Murphy popular with WBTV

Two-year for laffs for Frog

“Popular” creator/exec producer Ryan Murphy has been recruited by a new clique, inking a two-year overall deal with Warner Bros. Television and Tollin-Robins Prods. that includes a put pilot commitment from the WB Network.

Pact calls for Murphy to write, develop and produce both half-hour and hourlong programs for the studios. The first project from the deal will be an hourlong comedy for the Frog’s 2001-02 development season.

Murphy may also team with “Sex and the City” author Candace Bushnell for a pilot, insiders said.

“We are delighted to be in business with Tollin-Robbins and Ryan Murphy, who has demonstrated particularly strong leadership ability in combination with his unique talent,” WBTV topper Peter Roth said.

“Popular” was a surprise success for the WB last season, quickly establishing itself as a powerhouse with teen girls despite its slotting opposite NBC’s “Friends.” Net has renewed the Touchstone-produced hour for a second season, moving it to Fridays at 9 p.m.

Murphy said he talked to numerous studios about inking a deal, but that he ultimately chose WBTV because of Roth.

“I just really liked his attitude,” Murphy said. “He’s interested in Zeitgeist shows … (and) in material that’s edgy and not generic.”

Murphy said he’s also keen on pacting with Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins and Joe DaVola of Tollin/Robbins. Robbins directed the pilot for “Popular,” even though the show is from Disney and not Warner Bros.

“The WB asked me to look over their scripts, and his was the only one that got my attention,” Robbins said. “He comes from a point of view that’s fresh.”

The Murphy pact reps the first major overall deal Tollin/Robbins has struck since the company inked an overall deal with WBTV in February 1999.

Murphy is repped by attorney Craig Emmanuel and WMA.

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