Hitch 'em up: Overbrook dives deep into TV


Overbrook Entertainment is making a major push in television with the company's most ambitious development slate to date, which includes a series version of Will Smith's hit feature "Hitch" and a comedy starring OutKast's Big Boi.

"It is the most active season we've had in television," said Ken Stovitz, who joined Smith and James Lassiter as a partner at the company in May.

The slate, overseen by Heather Courtney, also includes "Raw Materials," a relationship comedy for ABC from the Oscar-nominated writing duo Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel; "Almost," a supernatural drama for A&E; a drama for FX about a "straight edge" punk crew; and "Gimmee Twenty," a special starring investment guru Mellody Hobson, at ABC News.

During the past year, cable has been a major priority for Overbrook. It had been focused primarily on broadcast TV, where it landed its first series, the comedy "All of Us."

In April, the company scored an animated series on BET. "The Cipha," a futuristic hip-hop series about rappers with superpowers, is slated to premiere in 2008.

Additionally, Overbrook has the half-hour "I Hate Pink," about a plain Jane in high school, in consideration at the N.

"The big news in television is that scripted cable has made such inroads and has taken a bite out of the broadcast networks," Stovitz said.

Overbrook is developing "Hitch," a half-hour single-camera comedy series, with Sony Pictures TV. SPT-based writer Ben Wexler (CBS' "Still Standing") has come on board to adapt Columbia Pictures' 2005 romantic comedy that starred Smith as a professional matchmaker. As it is with all Overbrook TV projects, Smith is attached to exec produce, but he won't star in the series project, which is expected to be pitched to the networks shortly.

"Uncle Rudy," a family comedy starring Big Boi, is another half-hour project in development at Overbrook.

Ganz and Mandel's "Raw," which is being produced by ABC Studios, is a single-camera comedy for ABC that explores the state of dating today and why men and women are not getting together.

After a start in TV working on such classics as "The Odd Couple" and "Happy Days," Ganz and Mandel moved to features, where their credits include "Parenthood" and "City Slickers."

"Almost" is a supernatural show set in a roadside motel in the middle of nowhere that doubles as purgatory, where the recently deceased are given a chance to revisit episodes from their past as a way of finding closure and paying off their karmic debts before moving on.

The A&E drama, written by Peter Mattei, has become a passion project for Smith, who is said to have sparked to the idea and to be very involved in the development.

Based on an idea by Jada Pinkett-Smith, the untitled Courage Crew project for FX revolves around of a faction of "straight edge" punks called Courage Crew. Robert Munic ("Runnin' ") is writing.

"Gimmee" stems from Hobson's relationship with Lassiter.

"It's such a fun show, one demystifying the financial world," Stovitz said.

Overbrook started off at Warner Bros. TV but has been independent for the past two years.

"We've thought about making an overall deal, but it hasn't made sense because the backing of a studio so far has not outweighed the benefit of being a free agent," Stovitz said.

Overbrook is repped by CAA. Pinkett-Smith is repped by ICM.