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Teens are out, ''Sopranos'' rip-offs are in

And even Spike Lee may get a show — EW peeks inside the TV pitches for next season

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James Gandolfini
Anthony Neste

‘Tis the season for drama-series development, which means the networks are being presented with the studios’ best hopes for the 2000-01 prime-time season (typically each net will buy anywhere from 30 to 70 scripts by Thanksgiving before narrowing down its picks for next fall). The good news: Teen angst is out (that’s SO ’98, people). The bad news: The usual copycat mentality prevails. There are the rip-offs of this year’s blockbuster theatricals ”The Thomas Crown Affair” and ”The Sixth Sense.” (One drama suit at a Big Four network has seen a few scripts where ”people return from the dead to help somebody, or a cop suddenly sees things.”)

There are the action pitches, à la ”Martial Law,” only now females are doing the butt kicking. And, thanks to HBO’s smash hit ”The Sopranos,” there is the inevitable mob of wiseguy dramas. ”Everything was Blank meets ‘The Sopranos,”’ says JoAnn Alfano, NBC’s senior VP of drama development. ”I didn’t buy a single one. ‘The Sopranos’ is done wonderfully. To try to copy it would be a poor decision.” There is one new development: Several scripts are set in the music biz, including an urban-music peek from Spike Lee. ABC seems interested; maybe they’ll title it ”Da Bomb & Again.”