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Fox digs ‘Graves,’ forensics

Religion heaven sent for nets

The network of Mulder and Scully is making room for “Briar & Graves,” a spooky drama that’s a sort of “X-Files” meets “The Exorcist.”

In other pilot news, Fox has also OK’d a Barry Josephson-produced hour about a forensic anthropologist (Daily Variety, Nov. 1), while NBC has given the go-ahead to a comedy pilot from scribe Matt Tarses and UPN is going “Crazy” with Spelling Television.

As for “Briar & Graves,” Fox has greenlit production on the pilot, which teams a hardboiled but heroic priest with a female doctor and sets them loose to investigate unexplained religious phenomena. Paul Scheuring (“A Man Apart”), creator of Fox’s buzzworthy drama project “Prison Break,” wrote the pilot and will exec produce with Marty Adelstein and Dawn Parouse via 20th Century Fox TV.

Scheuring said the idea for the lead character “Briar & Graves” has “been bouncing around my head since I read Graham Greene’s ‘The Power and the Glory,'” which revolves around a fallen priest. Scribe then heard a Johnny Cash/U2 song with a line about a man who goes “walking with a Bible and a gun,” and he was further motivated.

“I wanted to see this righteous grungy dude who’s the long arm of the Lord,” Scheuring said. “The show’s supposed to be creepy, but it’s also supposed to be a fun ride.”

Scheuring wrote “Briar & Graves” after it seemed “Prison Break” might not move forward. Last fall, latter skein got the OK to film, but Scheuring kept working on the newer project, which Fox picked up just days after reading the script.

“Briar & Graves” is one of several religious-themed projects in the works at the Big Six.

On April 13 NBC is set to unveil “Revelations,” which teams a feisty but heroic nun with a male scientist and sets them loose to investigate unexplained religious phenomena. (Fox’s “Briar & Graves” won’t have the end-of-the-world focus).

Peacock is also developing “Book of Daniel,” a “Joan of Arcadia”-like hour about a priest who talks to a hip Jesus. And Adelstein and Parouse are also exec producers of Fox’s spooky Satanic-themed “Point Pleasant,” which airs Thursdays at 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, Fox Wednesday also greenlit “Brennan,” the Hart Hanson-penned hour about a female anthropologist who solves the crimes the CSI teams can’t. Project is based on the real-life experiences and bestselling works of novelist-forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs, who will get a producer credit on the pilot.

Lead character, named Marjorie Miles, will have a team of experts to help her solve the mysteries of the bones, including a reconstructive artist and bug experts who can uncover clues about a case by analyzing the creatures surrounding a corpse.

Hanson (“Judging Amy”) and Josephson will exec produce via 20th Century Fox TV.

Over at NBC, net has given a cast-contingent order to “Filmore Middle,” a comedy about young teachers who work at a public junior high. Tarses is writing and exec producing via NBC U TV Studio.

Finally, UPN has said yes to Spelling-produced “Crazy,” in which a young therapist gets involved in the lives of her patients, seeing her own problems reflected in their woes.

Sarah Thorp wrote the pilot and will serve as co-exec producer. Ed Zuckerman, Aaron Spelling and E. Duke Vincent will exec produce.