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Icon to guide Three Stooges biopic for ABC

Gibson set to produce

NEW YORK — Mel Gibson will make his first foray into network television, co-producing a telepic about three of the Aussie thesp’s favorite people: Moe, Larry and Curly.

ABC and Columbia pictures have purchased the option for the Stooges bio “From Amalgamated Morons to American Icons: The Three Stooges,” by Daily Variety columnist Michael Fleming, for Mel Gibson’s Icon Pictures and Storyline Entertainment to adapt into a made-for.

The film will air during a sweeps period in 2000. While the film will likely be a one-parter, the wealth of material may force it to become a two- part mini series.

The producers currently have the manuscript out to writers and expect to sign a scribe in the coming weeks. They are hoping to make the Stooges film a star-studded affair, with Gibson possibly playing a small role.

Telepic will tell the story of Stooges’ rise from vaudevillians to Hollywood stars through the eyes of their leader Moe.

The Stooges were created in the 1920s by Ted Healy, a charismatic and sometimes despotic vaudeville star. They managed to break away from his iron rule, and went on to make 190 two-reel comedies at Columbia.

While the film promises to celebrate the Stooges’ comedy, it will also show that all those pratfalls and eye pokes took a heavy toll, above and beyond mere personal injury.

Storyline, which had known Gibson and his Icon partner Bruce Davey through working with them on the Gibson-helmed project “Fahrenheit 451,” brought the manuscript to Icon’s two-month old television division and the company quickly pounced on the project.

Gibson’s lifelong Stooge-fixation has been well documented: He has paid homage to the trio by making the slap-happy routines of Curly Howard part of crazed cop Martin Rigg’s repertoire in the “Lethal Weapon” series.

Icon’s Gibson and Davey and Storyline’s Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will exec produce the project with Icon television prexy Jim Lemly supervising. They will be joined on the production side by Interscope Communication and Comedy 3, the company which owns the rights to the Stooges.

The film was put together by Columbia TriStar Television’s exec VP Helen Verno, ABC exec Veep Susan Lyne and ABC veepee Quinn Taylor.

Fleming’s “From Amalgamated Morons to American Icons” will be published this fall by Doubleday.