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Peacock picks up plum duo

'Kingpin,' 'Boomtown' skeins get A-list directors

NBC has landed high-profile helmers Allen Coulter (“The Sopranos”) and Jon Avnet (“Fried Green Tomatoes”) to direct a pair of the Peacock’s fall 2002 drama series contenders, while helmer Simon West (“Con Air”) has snagged an official greenlight for his drama project at Fox.

As development season continues to pick up steam, Coulter has signed to direct NBC’s already much buzzed-about David Mills drama “Kingpin.” Epic skein, from Spelling Television and NBC Studios, revolves around the drug trade and is already being compared to “The Sopranos” as a potentially groundbreaking drama for network TV.

Coulter, who snagged an Emmy nom for his work on “The Sopranos,” has also been a regular director on HBO’s “Sex and the City.” His other credits include key segs of “The X-Files” and “Millennium.”

Confident net

NBC’s pickup of “Kingpin” is cast-contingent, though the signing of the BKWU-repped Coulter indicates the net is confident it’ll find a lead for the project.

In another major director signing, Peacock has inked CAA-repped Avnet to helm the pilot of “Boomtown,” the Graham Yost-penned drama about Los Angeles cops that’ll be told through multiple perspectives. Yost is also exec producer of the project, which is based at NBC Studios.

NBC Studios is talking to DreamWorks Television about the latter studio coming on board “Boomtown,” though no deal has been inked.

“These are both quality projects, now even more so with quality directors attached,” said NBC Entertainment prexy Jeff Zucker.

Avnet’s feature credits include “Red Corner,” “Up Close and Personal” and “The War.” He’s also produced or exec produced a slew of features, including “George of the Jungle” and the three “Mighty Ducks” pics.

Comedy pilot readied

On the pilot pickup front, NBC also greenlit a Regency Television-produced comedy pilot from former “Late Show with David Letterman” scribe Boyd Hale. Skein revolves around an ex- golf pro and his adventures with a young boy — or “Tin Cup” meets “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father,” as industry wags are putting it.

Hale just finished directing the Par feature “Don Wayne Wyoming” and has a pilot in the works at Comedy Central called “Nature Boy.”

Meanwhile, Fox Monday greenlit the West-helmed “Keen Eddie,” an hourlong comic drama that revolves around an American cop who goes to London and ends up staying. West, scribe J.H. Wyman (“The Mexican”) and Warren Littlefield will exec produce the hour, which will be shot on-location in the U.K. Jib Polhemus is also on board as a producer.

Skein is from Paramount Network Television in association with the Littlefield Co. and Wychwood Prods. Fox had already given a put pilot commitment to the project (Daily Variety, Nov. 7).

“The goal for our team is to reinvent the classic detective genre,” Littlefield said. “With Joel’s words and Simon’s direction, we’re well on our way.”

Fox has also given a thumbs up to a Par-produced pilot for a series version of the hit 2001 pic “Save the Last Dance.” Toni Ann Johnson, a scribe on the original pic, wrote the pilot and will exec produce. Robert Cort, David Madden and Dan Pyne are also on board as exec producers.

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