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Touchstone’s college laffer in Fox’s dorm

Mandel/Kelley skein eyeing 2001 launch

Fox Broadcasting has given a firm production commitment to a Touchstone Television comedy pilot from former “Seinfeld” writer/co-exec producer Dave Mandel and ex-“Saturday Night Live” scribe Brian Kelley.

The skein, in development for fall 2001, will be based on the two scribes’ experiences as Harvard undergrads. Focus won’t be on the classroom or the angst of college life, but rather on dorm life and how young people learn to form relationships as adults.

The Mandel/Kelley project reps the second time in recent weeks Fox has pacted with an ex-“Seinfeld” scribe. The network earlier this fall ordered six segs of a half-hour comedy from Alec Berg and Jeff Shaeffer, who both worked with Mandel on the classic NBC laffer.

Sale of the Touchstone Television pilot reps the Disney-owned studio’s first greenlit project at Fox Broadcasting. The net also has production commitments at NBC and CBS, as well as fellow Mouse House tenant ABC.

Comedy background

Mandel spent three seasons as a “Seinfeld” scribe, climbing to co-exec producer by the time the series went off the air in 1998.

His best-known segs include the “Bizzaro Jerry” episode, a backward episode in which the action unfolded in reverse order, and “The Pool Guy” seg, for which he was honored with a WGA Award. Latter episode is famous for a subplot in which Kramer (Michael Richards) turns into Mr. Moviephone.

Before “Seinfeld,” Mandel was a staff writer on “Saturday Night Live” from 1993-95 and wrote for Comedy Central’s “Indecision ’92” political coverage. He’s working on a rewrite of the Jim Carrey starrer “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and previously teamed with Berg and Schaeffer for the Universal pic “Foolproof.”

Kelley, who recently inked a two-year overall deal with Touchstone Television, was a co-producer of NBC’s now-canceled “NewsRadio” from 1995-98 as well as a staff writer on “SNL” during the 1994-95 season.

Mandel and Kelley also serve as producers on Miramax’s animated version of Kevin Smith’s “Clerks,” which is slated to bow next year on ABC.

Deal for the Touchstone pilot was brokered by Endeavor, the Management Group and attorney Jeanne Newman.