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Minkoff warms to comicstrip ‘Fuzzy’

Wise to make live-action debut

Never mind “Get Shorty” — Rob Minkoff wants you to “Get Fuzzy.”

The Sony-based helmer’s company, Sprocketdyne Entertainment, has inked a deal securing the rights to “Get Fuzzy,” United Media’s Darby Conley-penned comicstrip.

Making his live-action helming debut will be animation director Kirk Wise, who helmed Disney’s animated hits “Beauty and the Beast” (1991) and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996). Minkoff and Wise are old colleagues dating back to Minkoff’s work helming 1994 Disney megahit “The Lion King.”

Producing “Fuzzy” are Minkoff and his partner Jason Clark, with their Sprocketdyne VP of development Warren Davis co-producing. Pic is intended to be a CGI and live-action combination similar to Minkoff’s own creation “Stuart Little” and to Warner Bros.’ recent sleeper hit “Scooby-Doo.”

While “Fuzzy” is described by United Media’s Web site as “a wry portrait of single life, with pets,” Minkoff says he still believes that it “has huge potential to be turned into a family event picture.”

In May, “Fuzzy” was named comicstrip of the year by the National Cartoonists’ Society. It appears in 400 newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News and the Chicago Tribune.

Unlike most comicstrips, in which pets are slobbering incoherent mutes, “Fuzzy’s” pets talk, and do so with sharply sarcastic wit. Pic’s protag is Rob Wilco, a single, mild-mannered ad exec. His pets are Bucky, a temperamental cat who wears the pants in the household, and Satchel, a gentle dog who tries to remain neutral.

“What sets ‘Get Fuzzy’ apart from the other funnies is the edgy humor and the rich characterizations.,” said Wise, who’s been developing the pic’s story with creator Conley.

It’s not clear whether the pic will be set up at Sony, as Sprocketdyne’s producing deal is set to expire in October. Moreover, Minkoff’s current helming effort, “Haunted Mansion,” is a Disney release. It marks the studio’s third attempt to turn a theme park ride into B.O. gold after the disappointment of “The Country Bears” and the boffo returns of “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

Like “Fuzzy,” “Mansion” is a live action/CGI combo. It stars Eddie Murphy and unspools this Thanksgiving.

Minkoff was repped by CAA; Wise by BCWS.