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ESPN Shuns Original Series

Bristol, Conn. -- While it does have a half-hour improvisational scripted comedy in development, don’t expect ESPN to make a concerted return to the original series business any time soon.

Rather, the company plans to focus more on sports documentaries going forward, executive vice president of content John Skipper said here Thursday at ESPN’s Media Day event.

“There are a lot of great sports stories to tell from different angles,” Skipper said.

On the docket: the previously announced Black Magic, from Dan Klores (Ring of Fire), which is a look at African American athletes in the south during the 1950s and 1960s against the backdrop of the civil rights movement. The film is slated to air in march 2008.

Executive vice president and executive editor John Walsh said there were a number of documentaries in development, but none that were far enough along to announce.

ESPN, which just finished the premiere run of the eight-part series The Bronx is Burning, previously ran pro football show Playmakers, and poker themed series Tilt.

Skipper said the comedy in development works along the lines of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, in which the actors work off an outline from creator Larry David.

He declined to handicap the project’s chances for getting to air.