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D’Works’ ‘Semper Fi’ hits the beach at NBC

Spielberg, Uhls set to produce

NEW YORK — NBC is making a 13-episode commitment to DreamWorks’ “Semper Fi,” an ensemble drama about a U.S. Marine Corps regiment, for next fall.

The series will be executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Jim Uhls, who wrote “The Fight Club,” the David Fincher-directed film that stars Brad Pitt and Edward Norton and which Fox 2000 opens Oct. 15.

The Marines project was developed by DreamWorks Television and the network deal is being made by NBC Entertainment president Garth Ancier.

Uhls has been researching the series for the past few months, based on the idea of following a group of young marines from basic training through their development into soldiers. The series then tracks them as they engage hostile forces in fictional hot spots. The series is set in the present.

Uhls has written the pilot and will supervise the writing of future episodes. It has been rumored for weeks that Spielberg may direct the pilot, though a spokesman said he’s made no firm commitment. He’s busy prepping “Minority Report,” still expected to be his next feature, with Tom Cruise and Matt Damon.

Spielberg has been very involved in the “Semper Fi” development process as exec producer, however, and has installed military expert and “Saving Private Ryan” consultant Dale Dye as a producer. Spielberg, who won the best director Oscar for “Saving Private Ryan,” has become very interested in the battlefield experience and is also aligned with “Ryan’s” star, Tom Hanks, on HBO’s “Band of Brothers.”

Though “Fight Club” is Uhls’ first produced screen credit, the scribe has quickly emerged as an A-list writer. Among the other projects he’s working on are two to which Leonardo DiCaprio has been aligned: “Stanford Prison Experiment” and “Trick Pony.” Uhls is repped by Jim Rosen and Chris Silberman of Broder Kurland Webb Uffner.

The “Semper Fi” project was developed as a high priority at DreamWorks TV under prexy Dan McDermott, and it becomes the third DreamWorks project to take root at NBC. The others are “Freaks and Geeks,” the comedy that debuted last week, and the drama “The Other,” which will be a midseason replacement.