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U TV makes home for ‘Brother’

Ridley inks one-year deal

Scribe John Ridley (“Undercover Brother”) is setting up shop at Universal Network Television, inking an exclusive overall deal with the studio.

One-year pact calls for Ridley to create, develop and exec produce comedies and dramas for the studio via his Intl. Famous Players Radio Picture Corp. shingle. He has already set up a project about the world of escort agencies for USA Network (though that project was set up before the overall deal was signed).

Marit Weisenberg is head of development for the shingle.

Ridley, most recently based at Touchstone, created and exec produced UPN’s short-lived drama “Platinum.” He also recently returned to Warner Bros. TV’s “Third Watch,” where he’ll be a consulting producer.

Universal Network Television topper David Kissinger said he’s been a fan of the scribe’s for many years.

“His strengths are in so many diverse areas, all of which we’re extremely interested in as a production company,” Kissinger told Daily Variety.

“He’s one of those rare writers who’s enormously literate and ambitious, but also a genuine fan of genre material. He loves science fiction, he loves action and cop material, but he always approaches all of these areas with a great originality and a search for something fresh.”

While Ridley has mainly worked in drama on the TV side, he also penned hit spoof feature “Undercover Brother” and the comedic drama “Three Kings.” Kissinger said he’s hopeful Ridley will develop comedies for the studio as well.

Ridley said Kissinger’s enthusiasm, along with that of his development staff, sold him on the idea of pacting with U.

“When people are that enthusiastic about your ideas, it’s hard to not turn around and say, ‘This is where I want to go and get some television done,’ ” Ridley said.

Scribe’s USA project, dubbed “Pretty Faces,” is still in the early stages of development. Skein will explore the people who work at an escort service without being exploitative or focusing on sex.

USA has ordered a pilot script that Ridley will deliver this fall. Cabler will make a decision on a pilot order later this year.

Ridley’s credits include the novel “Stray Dogs,” which became the Oliver Stone pic “U-Turn,” as well as novels “Those Who Walk in Darkness” and “The Drift.” He also wrote and is set to direct “Let Me Take You Down,” a feature being produced with Lions Gate and Urban Entertainment.