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Daily Variety
October 03, 2001
NEWS; Pg. 1

Frog net pools pilots for 2002

JOSEF ADALIAN

Nickelodeon superstar Amanda Bynes and "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" showrunner Bruce Ferber are jumping into the Frog's 2002 development pond.

As preparation for the 2002-03 season kicks into high gear, the WB has made pilot presentation commitments to two family-friendly projects: a half-hour Bynes-led laffer from Warner Bros. Television and Tollin-Robbins Prods. and an hourlong drama from Ferber to be produced by WBTV.

By inking the 15-year-old Bynes --- now in her third season as the star of Nick's "The Amanda Show" --- the WB is hoping to duplicate the success ABC found when it recruited former Nick star Melissa Joan Hart to topline "Sabrina" (a skein that's since found success on the Frog). If the Bynes project ends up as a series, it'll almost certainly land on the WB's Friday lineup of teen-targeted laffers.

Bynes' WB project will be exec produced by "Amanda" exec producer Dan Schneider and former "Friends" scribe-exec producer Wil Calhoun, along with Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins and Joe Davola. Schneider and Calhoun are still firming up the concept behind the series.

In addition to producing "Amanda," Schneider and Robbins discovered Bynes, casting her in their Nick sketch skein "All That" after seeing her perform (at age 9) in a comedy showcase. Young thesp snagged a 1997 CableACE nom for her perf in the Nick variety show.

Repped by Michael Goldman of Tollin-Robbins Management, Bynes will next star opposite Frankie Muniz ("Malcolm in the Middle") in the Universal feature "Big Fat Liar," skedded for a February release. Should the WB order the Bynes pilot to series, it's expected she would ankle her Nick variety show.

As for the Ferber project, the tentatively titled "Welcome to Holland" will be an hourlong drama about a family with an autistic child. Ferber will write and exec produce the pilot.

In addition to "Sabrina," Ferber spent seven years as a scribe-producer on "Home Improvement," ultimately serving as exec producer of the hit ABC laffer.

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