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Fox stalks writers

Network bares 'Naked TV' search for material

As part of its efforts to move toward year-round programming, Fox Broadcasting has formed a department dedicated to proactively seeking out new writing talent.

Net’s newly minted creative writer development division has already embarked on its first project, pacting with Naked Angels Theater Co. for a limited-run showcase of short plays dubbed “Naked TV.” Fox execs will attend one of the performances with the goal of finding source material for new pilot scripts.

Naked Angels member Paul Eckstein (“Hoodlum,” “Street Time”) will exec produce the showcase; Tim Ransom is artistic director for the troupe, which has staged plays with thesps such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Gina Gershon, Lili Taylor and Marisa Tomei.

Both “Naked TV” and the creative writer development initiative are spearheaded by Fox exec VP of programming Craig Erwich and director of development Stefani Relles.

In addition to “Naked TV,” Fox plans to work with filmmakers and playwrights to develop potential network shows using nontraditional techniques such as digital film production and theatrical staging.

Erwich credited Relles for launching what Fox execs internally call “the Rock Squad” — an initiative begun a few years ago through which Fox “looked under rocks” to make sure it wasn’t missing out on unconventional talent. That effort has grown large enough to merit a formal department, with Relles taking daily oversight.

“We decided we need to dedicate someone to making sure additional voices were being heard,” Erwich said. “We want to experiment with a bunch of different ways to get into business with people. A lot of people who are mainstream now weren’t born on the staffs of TV shows.”

As for “Naked TV,” Ransom said the showcase, if successful, “will expand the horizons of emerging playwrights while exposing their work to a much larger audience.”

“Naked TV” will run April 16-May 9 at Santa Monica’s Edgemar Center for the Arts. Perfs will be open to the public.

Naked Angels staged productions in New York, Los Angeles and London last season and has worked with scribes such as Kenneth Lonergan, Theresa Rebek and Warren Leight.

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