Oteri Developing CBS Sitcom

By Michael Schneider and Josef Adalian

The Spartan Spirit squad has something to cheer about: ``Saturday Night Live'' star Cheri Oteri just inked an overall development deal with CBS to create a new half-hour comedy series.

CBS will develop the project for fall 2001. The deal is particularly rich for Oteri, who's guaranteed a 13-episode payday even if the series doesn't make it to air.

Oteri, who earlier this month announced plans to depart ``SNL,'' is best known for creating characters such as Arianna, the female half of the Spartan cheerleading squad; the prescription-addled Colette Reardon; and Rita, the self-appointed mayor of her street.

Oteri's impressions include Barbara Walters, Melissa Rivers and Judge Judy.

Sources indicated that both NBC and Fox were interested in a deal as well, with Fox said to be particularly competitive.

Besides her five-year run on ``SNL,'' Oteri received an Emmy nomination for her guest spot last season on ``Just Shoot Me.'' On the feature side, Oteri recently co-starred in the hit comedy ``Scary Movie.'' She has also been seen in the features ``Liar Liar'' and ``Inspector Gadget.'' Prior to ``SNL,'' Oteri was a member of the Los Angeles-based comedy group the Groundlings.

Oteri's deal comes on the heels of CBS' recent pact with ``Just Shoot Me'' creator Steven Levitan and writer-producer Jeffrey Richman to create a comedy for fall 2001. The two deals may be a sign that the network's comedy development team is already beginning to capitalize on CBS' ``Survivor''-fueled increase in young viewers.

Source: Variety

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