New Fox cartoon set for spring launch

Wed Apr 30, 2008 1:52am EDT
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By Nellie Andreeva

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Things have never been so murky 10 days before the networks preview their wares for advertisers during the annual "upfront" week.

With most pilots yet to be delivered to the networks because of delays stemming from the 100-day writers strike, the horse race for slots on the broadcast schedules remains wide open.

One virtual certainty is that Fox will be launching its first animated comedy -- or comedies -- in three years. "Cleveland," a spinoff of "Family Guy," is expected to get on the air with a 13-episode order. Staffers are being hired for the show, which focuses on the Griffins' henpecked neighbor.

Coincidentally, the last two animated series entries on Fox were "American Dad" and the resurrected "Family Guy," both from "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane.

The show, which is expected to be ready for a spring launch, might be joined by two other new cartoons: "The Pitts" and "Sit Down, Shut Up."

Both projects took a nontraditional development route when Fox sped up by the process by eschewing the traditional pilot order. They are expected to produce one- to two-minute presentations to be ready for Fox's upfront presentation.

On the live-action side, early front-runners include prolific producer Jerry Bruckheimer's drama "Eleventh Hour" for CBS, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" creator Joss Whedon's "Doll House," "Lost" producer J.J. Abrams' "Fringe" and the Bruce Helford/Bernie Mac comedy "Starting Under," all for Fox. All four are looking good to land on the schedule.

And then there is the CW's "Beverly Hills, 90210" spinoff, which is as close as it gets to a sure thing. The cast already includes Toronto teen and Lori Loughlin ("Summerland").

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

<p>Seth MacFarlane arrives at the first annual Spike television's "Guys Choice" awards show in the Studio City area of Los Angeles June 9, 2007. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas</p>