WB Network nabs piece of the ‘Pie’

Frog committed to sitcoms

NEW YORK — Chris and Paul Weitz — the sibling duo behind the smash summer pic “American Pie” — are bringing their wild brand of comedy to the small screen, snagging a rare 13-episode series commitment from the WB Network.

In a move indicating its desire to become a serious sitcom player, the Frog net has shelled out a high six-figure sum for 13 segs of a laffer to be written and exec produced by the Weitz brothers. There’s no word yet on what the skein will be about, except that it will not in any way be related to “Pie,” which Chris Weitz produced and Paul Weitz directed for Universal.

Series is being developed for the 2000-01 season, with midseason a more likely target date because of the brothers’ heavy theatrical production slate. Duo are currently rewriting “The Nutty Professor 2” and will rewrite and likely direct Chris Rock in the “Heaven Can Wait”-like pic “I Was Made to Love Her.”

Dream deal?

Still to be found: A studio to produce the skein. DreamWorks is said to be heavily interested in doing a deal with the Weitz’, having been impressed by the duo’s work as writers on “Antz.” Warner Bros. Television is also said to be a candidate , particularly now that the WB is on board.

Once a studio deal is factored in, the Weitz brothers’ take on the project should easily exceed seven figures, according to industry insiders.

Despite their red-hot film slate, the brothers — who did a brief TV stint as co-exec producers of ABC’s recent “Fantasy Island” revival — say series television provides a unique outlet for creativity.

“I was just flipping through this book of ‘Seinfeld’ scripts and it’s cool the kind of character development you can do with a series,” Paul Weitz told Daily Variety Wednesday in an interview.

Added Chris Weitz: “In film, you have to wrap everything up in an hour and a half and it’s all about the plot…. We’ve wanted to do TV for a while.”

While it’s not clear yet just what the series will be about, the Weitz’ say the project will probably be autobiographical in nature and feature characters in their mid to late-20s.

However, “It’s not going to be ‘Dawson’s Creek: The Sitcom,'” Paul Weitz quipped.

The WB’s 13-seg commitment, particularly to a project as yet undefined, is rare for the net, but not unprecedented at other webs for in-demand talent such as the Weitz brothers.

Seeking sitcoms

Move also indicates the Frog net’s desire to beef up its stable of sitcoms. While the WB has excelled at creating hit hours, comedy has been harder.

“We are going after people we think are the best at what they do,” WB Entertainment prexy Susanne Daniels said, noting the net’s recent deal for a series to be produced by “The Drew Carey Show’s” Bruce Helford.

“I’m happy about the direction we’re going in comedy,” Daniels added.

Net is tempering its risk, however, by making the commitment to the brothers and not a studio, thus limiting its losses should the pilot for the project not go to series. Another key to the show’s potential success: The Weitz brothers have also agreed to be actively involved in the writing and producing of the series beyond the pilot seg.

Deal was brokered by the William Morris Agency.

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