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Toon team, 19 believers in ‘Monkees’

Show to be cartoony, escapist and fun, Oakley sez

“The Simpsons” vets Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein are finalizing a deal to join 19 Television’s new take on “The Monkees.”

Oakley and Weinstein will work closely with 19 founder Simon Fuller (“American Idol”), who recently secured the rights to the “Monkees” concept and name (Daily Variety, July 23). NBC, which aired the original 1966-68 laffer and had first dibs on a sequel, is in discussions to pick up the revived skein.

Oakley said he and Weinstein have spent a great deal of time watching episodes of the original “Monkees,” which made stars out of Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork.

“We want to be as groundbreaking today as the original show was in 1966,” he said. “It will have a level of zaniness and the jokes will come fast and furious, like the original. The modern version of it, though, will be informed by the world of musicvideos. We’re hoping to take it a step further using today’s technology.”

Oakley said the group will likely be called the Monkees; the show may even use updated versions of Monkees classics like “I’m a Believer.” Also, much like the original, the characters/bandmates will share a house, likely close to the beach.

“This show will be as cartoony as the original ‘Monkees,’ but it won’t exist outside of reality,” he said. “We like the idea of doing something escapist and fun.”

Early episodes or specials will also focus on the casting process, which has become a hallmark for Fuller, who created the Spice Girls and SClub7. Oakley said Fuller will focus on finding four young men who are musically talented and both funny and adept at physical comedy.

Oakley and Weinstein most recently created comedy pilot “The Funkhousers” for ABC, which ultimately passed on the show. Before that they created and exec produced the animated laffer “Mission Hill,” which was short-lived on the WB but is now airing in repeats on Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” lineup.

The duo is best known for their long stint on “The Simpsons,” where they worked their way up to showrunner-executive producers.

Oakley and Weinstein are repped by CAA, which connected the duo with Fuller.

“The first pilot we ever wrote was about a Monkees-like band,” Oakley said. “We told Simon about it; he’s a big fan of our work on ‘The Simpsons.’ We clicked; it’s clear we’re talking about the same kind of thing.”

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