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Frog gets educated with drama pilot

Hourlong to be co-penned by Fontana, Martin

The WB is adding more muscle to its drama development slate, greenlighting a drama pilot from Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson.

Untitled hour, to be co-created and co-written by Fontana (“Oz,” “Homicide: Life on the Street”) and Julie Martin, will be an ensembler focusing on New York City college students enrolled in a course about human sexuality and behavior. Pilot will lense in Gotham, with Fontana, Martin, Levinson and Jim Finnerty serving as exec producers.

Project, from HBO Independent Prods., marks Fontana’s first development work for the Frog. It’s also one of HIP’s rare forays into the one-hour genre.

“This is not your ivy-covered New England campus. These are kids who are in school learning about theory and philosophy and then hit the streets and get practical lessons (in life),” Fontana told Daily Variety.

Fontana added that the show, which will also include several faculty members as regular characters, will not be “just about sex. Their requirement (in the class) is to explore their sexuality or their lack of a sex life. The show’s about how these elements reflect the bigger picture,” he said. “This is not a show about titillation.”

Martin, who’s worked with Fontana as a scribe on “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “The Jury,” said she’s “very happy this show has no dead bodies in it.”

That said, the Frog pilot and “Homicide” aren’t as far apart as they might seem, Martin argued.

“I considered ‘Homicide’ a character-driven show about relationships, and this is a continuation of that,” she said.

Because Fontana and Martin are setting their pilot at a New York City college campus, project will no doubt invite comparisons to “Felicity,” a signature WB skein from the net’s early days. Fontana, while respectful of his predecessor, said that simply because the new pilot is set in post-9/11 New York, the show will probably have “more edge to it” than the J.J. Abrams skein.

What’s more, “In the same way we tried very hard in ‘Homicide’ not to shoot a gun, I’m determined to avoid as many scenes in a dorm room as I can,” he said. “That’s been done to death, and not just by ‘Felicity.’ ”

Meanwhile, the WB Friday confirmed what’s been assumed for weeks: Frosh sudser “The Mountain” has been canceled.