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WB buys into ‘Hype,’ orders pilot

'Mad' scribe-producers creating sketch comedy skein

The WB believes in “Hype!”

The Frog net today will announce a formal production commitment to “Hype!,” a Warner Bros. Television/

Marquee Tollin-Robbins-produced primetime sketch comedy skein being created by “Mad TV” scribe-producers Scott King, Laney Lanier and Terry Sweeney. The WB has so far ordered only a pilot, but the project is said to be a high priority to Frog suits.

The trio of King, Lanier and Sweeney were responsible for a much buzzed-about “Mad” sketch dubbed “Intensity,” which mercilessly parodied the Frog’s “Felicity.” Despite the ribbing their skein took, WB execs decided to go after the trio soon after.

Like the “Intensity” sketch, “Hype!” will focus its comedic venom on pop culture as opposed to politics or social ills. King, Lanier and Sweeney will serve as exec producers.

Already set to star are comics Michael Roof (aka “The Chicken”) and Frank Caliendo. The rest of the cast will be a multiethnic ensemble culled from a group of thesps now rehearsing together at the HBO Workspace.

CAA packaged most of the talent for the skein, with the participation of agents from UTA. Three Arts Television and manager Barry Katz will also be producers of the pilot.

“A lot of times, sketch comedy shows are not focused,” said WB exec veep Jordan Levin. “Terry, Scott and Laney really bring a strong point of view … Finding talent early with Frank and Mike was also critical.”

Among the creators of “Hype!,” Sweeney has perhaps the longest sketch comedy track record. A former “Saturday Night Live” actor-writer, he’s best known for his dead-on impersonation of Nancy Reagan.

Sketch comedy shows haven’t had much luck in primetime since the heyday of Fox’s “In Living Color.” “The Ben Stiller Show” and primetime showcases for Dana Carvey and Martin Short quickly fizzled.

Having so many producers and thesps lined up in advance, however, “made us really comfortable” about ordering a pilot of ‘Hype!’,” said Levin.

Sweeney and Laney, as well as Roof and Caliendo, are repped by CAA. King is repped by ICM.

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