Family foibles for ABC

DeVito pilot described as a modern 'You Can't Take It With You'

Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein (“The Simpsons”) are writing an offbeat family comedy for ABC, with Danny DeVito attached to direct.

Alphabet net has made a put pilot commitment to the single-camera project, to be produced by DeVito’s Jersey Television. Oakley and Weinstein will exec produce, along with DeVito, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher and Jersey TV topper John Landgraf.

Pilot will be the first DeVito has directed for Jersey or any other company.

Skein is being targeted for fall 2002 but could end up on ABC as early as this spring. Alphabet execs bought the project in the room Thursday as soon as Oakley, Weinstein and DeVito pitched it to them.

Landgraf said the as-yet-untitled (and unwritten) pilot will revolve around a very odd extended family.

“Notwithstanding the fact that they’re the most eccentric family on their block, they’re also the most close-knit,” he said.

Skein will operate on many different levels, from satirical comedy a la “The Simpsons” to broad, physical yuks.

“They came up with this idea that’s really right up my alley,” DeVito said of the project. “It’s sort of like a modern ‘You Can’t Take It With You,’ with some really great relationships. I’m really excited to do it.”

ABC Entertainment Television Group co-chairman Lloyd Braun said the project reminds him of a “modern-day ‘Addams Family,’ with incredible characters and a great sensibility you haven’t seen on television before.

“It’s the kind of family show ABC’s had great success with in the past,” he said. “I expect you’ll see a lot more of this kind of series on the network.”

Jersey Television is based at Columbia TriStar Television, which is in the process of getting out of the primetime biz. Nonetheless, Braun said he expects CTTV will produce the pilot “unless they tell us otherwise.”

“If they do ask us to accommodate them (and produce the pilot), we’ll be willing to do so,” Braun said.

Oakley and Weinstein most recently exec produced ABC pilot “The Ruling Class” last season. Project, from Imagine TV, followed the exploits of the new kid at a high school.

Prior to that, the duo served as consulting producers on “Futurama.” Oakley and Weinstein also created and produced the short-lived animated WB comedy “Mission Hill” in 1999. That toon came from Castle Rock Entertainment, where the two had set up under an overall deal.

Oakley and Weinstein are best known for their long-running stint on as writer-exec producers on “The Simpsons,” for which the partners penned some of the toon laffer’s best-known episodes and collected Emmys for animated series. “The Ruling Class” repped Oakley and Weinstein’s first stab outside of animation.

Deal was brokered by CAA, which reps Oakley, Weinstein and Jersey Television.