The 2000-01 schedule is already heating up -- thanks to this new romantic comedy

By Lynette Rice
Updated February 09, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

In a major coup for the 2000-01 season, ABC is expected to close a deal with the multiple-Emmy winner James L. Brooks to create a romantic comedy that will star Joan Cusack. Brooks — who was nominated for an Academy Award for directing the 1997 hit flick ”As Good as It Gets” — will base the project on a persona from the 1988 radio show ”Lipschtick” (not to be confused with a book of the same name), according to a source close to the project. ABC has committed to at least 13 episodes, which will be produced by Columbia TriStar Television. The comedy will likely bow mid-season.

ABC has wanted to do a sitcom with Cusack for years. Most recently, the network hoped to develop a project that would accommodate the actress in her hometown of Chicago, but the deal never materialized. Cusack, meanwhile, has been busy on the big screen. Her recent credits include ”Arlington Road,” ”Runaway Bride,” and ”Cradle Will Rock.”

Brooks has long straddled the film and TV worlds. His big-screen hits include ”Broadcast News” and ”Terms of Endearment,” and he has executive-produced some of TV’s most memorable comedies: ”The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” ”Rhoda,” ”Lou Grant,” ”Taxi,” ”The Simpsons,” and ”The Tracey Ullman Show.”