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Suppliers taking fliers

Skein sales not exclusive to in-house producers

NBC Studios is stepping up sales activity outside the Peacock fold, landing comedy pilot presentation commitments from Fox Broadcasting and UPN.

Meanwhile, ABC unit Touchstone Television continues to supply product to other webs, closing a deal on an FBC comedy pilot presentation.

The sales by NBC Studios and Touchstone are another sign that, dire predictions to the contrary, vertical integration isn’t resulting in webs buying only from their in-house production units. If anything, consolidation seems to be forcing webs to open their doors to unconventional suppliers.

“There are no more rules anymore,” said NBC Studios topper Ted Harbert, who’s been charged with building the Peacock unit into something more than NBC’s internal development company.

“So Fox is interested in taking a show from NBC, and Disney has a show (‘Daddio’) on NBC Thursdays at 8:30. Everybody’s open to everything.”

Producing inhouse is still the priority at shops such as NBC Studios and Touchstone, however.

NBC Studios is producing or has a financial interest in the vast majority of the Peacock’s dramas and a good chunk of its comedies. Touchstone is similarly integrated into ABC’s development.

Among the latest projects crossing network lines:

  • NBC Studios and the Littlefield Co. are producing a half-hour laffer for Fox from “South Park” scribe Nancy Pimental. Project is described as a sort of “Women Behaving Badly,” with several top-name actresses said to be circling the skein.

  • NBC Studios is also behind exec producer Ron Levitt’s (“Married… with Children,” “Unhappily Ever After”) half-hour for UPN. Dubbed “Kevin Devlin,” show will revolve around a smart bully and is targeted for midseason 2000-01.

  • Fox Broadcasting has greenlit Touchstone’s college half-hour “Mather House” from exec producers Dave Mandel (“Seinfeld,” “Clerks”) and Brian Kelley (“NewsRadio,” “Saturday Night Live.”) Project is cast contingent.

Elsewhere on the development front, brothers Ed and Brian Burns are crafting “The Fighting Fitzgeralds” for NBC via ATG. Laffer will be based loosely on their own familial experiences.

ATG and NBC are working on several creative financing methods designed to cut the Peacock’s financial risk in the project.

Fox has ordered a presentation for 20th Century Fox’s “Normal People,” from executive producer Gary Janetti.

Retiring “Beverly Hills 90210” star Tori Spelling is attached to star in the skein.

Fox has ordered a pilot presentation of ATG’s hour-long “Killer App,” the revised project from “Doonesbury’s” Garry Trudeau that’s now executive produced by Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson.

Alan Coulter will direct “App,” which has been in the works for some time.

Meanwhile, UPN has picked up two more comedies: “The Choppy Show,” from Big Ticket, and “Girlfriend,” from Paramount Network Television.

“The Choppy Show” actually consists of two separate 15-minute scripts, “Law & Disorder” and “Body by Choppy.” Both elements were created by John Crane, who will also star as the title character.

Crane first performed as Choppy — a nerdy guy with an incessant need to speak his mind — at the Groundlings Theater.

Meanwhile, “Girlfriend” is the first project from Kelsey Grammer’s Gramnet production house since NBC’s 1996 sitcom “Fired Up.” Also, “Girlfriend,” which will be shot as a 15-minute presentation, is Gramnet’s first non-NBC project.

“Girlfriend” was created by “Moesha” alum and “Jamie Foxx Show” supervising producer Mara Brock Akil. The ensemble show centers around four black women.

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