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CBS, ‘SNL’ star laff it up

NBC, Fox also said to be interested in Oteri deal

The Spartan Spirit squad has something to cheer about: “Saturday Night Live” star Cheri Oteri just inked an overall development deal with CBS to create a new half-hour comedy series.

CBS will develop the laffer for fall 2001. Deal is particularly rich for Oteri, who’s guaranteed a 13-episode payday even if the series doesn’t make it to air.

Oteri, who recently announced plans to depart “SNL” (Daily Variety, Aug. 10), is best known for creating characters such as Arianna, the female half of the Spartan cheerleading squad; the prescription-addled Colette Reardon; and Rita, the self-appointed mayor of her street.

Oteri’s impressions include Barbara Walters, Melissa Rivers and Judge Judy.

Sources indicated that both NBC and Fox were interested in a deal as well, with Fox said to be particularly competitive.

Besides her five-year run on “SNL,” Oteri received an Emmy nom for her guest spot last season on “Just Shoot Me.” On the feature side, Oteri recently co-starred in the hit comedy “Scary Movie.” She has also been seen in the features “Liar, Liar” and “Inspector Gadget.” Prior to “SNL,” Oteri was a member of the Los Angeles-based comedy group the Groundlings.

Oteri’s deal comes on the heels of CBS’ recent pact with “Just Shoot Me” creator Steven Levitan and writer-producer Jeffrey Richman to create a comedy for fall 2001. The two deals may be a sign that the net’s comedy development team, led by senior VP Wendi Goldstein, is already beginning to capitalize on the Eye’s “Survivor”-fueled increase in young viewers.

Oteri is repped by Endeavor, Lee Kernis of Sarkes/Kernis Management and attorney Michael Gendler.

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