NBC eyes ‘Ellen’ vets for laffer

Web greenlights pilots from Goldberg, Richards

As part of its stepped-up efforts to find sitcom successes — and soon — NBC has greenlit a midseason comedy pilot from former “Ellen” exec producers Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline.

Casting for the untitled NBC Studios project will begin shortly, with shooting expected to take place in December. If the pilot goes to series, Peacock execs hope to have the skein on the air as early as March.

The Heisler/Heline comedy will focus on the often-complicated relationship of three irreverent adult sisters as seen through the eyes of a man who married one of them. NBC execs think the show might work well as a companion to the net’s Tuesday hit “Will & Grace.”

Deal was brokered by UTA.

With frosh laffer “The Mike O’Malley Show” already axed, and returning half-hours “Suddenly Susan,” “Veronica’s Closet” and “Jesse” struggling, Peacock programmers are looking for comedies that can be tested out next spring before the net has to set its fall 2000 sked in May.

In addition to the Heisler/Heline project, NBC has made a midseason pilot commitment to a cop comedy from producer Gary David Goldberg (“Spin City”), as well as an episodic commitment to a new half-hour from former “Seinfeld” sidekick Michael Richards. The latter project is being targeted for a midseason launch but might bow next fall.

Already in production for midseason is “M.Y.O.B.,” a femme-centered laffer from creator Don Roos (“The Opposite of Sex,” “Single White Female”); “God, the Devil and Bob,” an animation comedy; and “Sammy,” another toon from exec producer David Spade.

Before serving as exec producers on “Ellen,” Heisler and Heline worked together as writers-producers on “Roseanne” and “Murphy Brown.” They also created the unsold pilot “In the Loop” for ABC.

Now working under a long-term deal with NBC Studios, Heisler and Heline had previously been based at Disney, where they were under contract from 1995 through 1998.