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Ridley pact calls for both drama, comedy projects

Prolific scribe-producer John Ridley (“Undercover Brother,” “Three Kings”) has inked an exclusive seven-figure, two-year overall deal with Touchstone Television and ABC.

Pact calls for Ridley to create, develop and produce both drama and comedy projects for the studio. ABC is guaranteed to produce a pilot for at least one project per year.

Ridley is currently working with producer Kevin Misher on a martial arts-themed family drama that could end up being piloted for fall 2002.

Scribe’s relationship with ABC blossomed after he penned the script for an upcoming mini based on the life story of alleged spy Wen Ho Lee.

Hands-off lure

“From the time they offered me a miniseries to write and direct and do it however I see fit, with zero interference, it was truly the beginning of a beautiful relationship,” Ridley said. “I’ve had a quirky kind of career, and these guys were looking for a real particular voice.”

Ridley praised Touchstone topper Steve McPherson and ABC Entertainment Television Group co-chairman Stu Bloomberg, as well as other execs at both units, for providing an environment “where you can take chances.

“They let you come in and really take it as far as you can go,” he said.

Ridley’s project with Misher will incorporate elements of Hong Kong-style action pics against the backdrop of a dysfunctional family.

“It’s the family that kung fus together, stays together,” he said.

Deal with Touchstone and ABC was brokered by Endeavor and Don Walerstein.

Ridley continues to juggle film, television and his career as a novelist.

Universal/Imagine’s “Undercover Brother,” based on Ridley’s original Internet-based animated series, is expected to be released next spring. A pic based on Ridley’s upcoming “Those Who Walk in Darkness” is expected in 2003.

Next year, Warner Books will release the Ridley-penned “A Conversation with the Mann,” a novel about a black comedian from the 1950s who ends up in the middle of the civil rights movement. Later in 2002, Knopf is skedded to roll out “The Drift,” a novel Ridley said is a return to his “funny, violent” style.

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