Duff Signs On For CBS Comedy Pilot

CBS has signed a comedy pilot deal with Hilary Duff, the 16-year-old "Lizzie McGuire" star.

CBS has signed a comedy pilot deal with Hilary Duff, the 16-year-old "Lizzie McGuire" star. The network will develop a starring vehicle for Duff for the 2004-05 season, most likely a domestic comedy a la "Family Ties." The teenager's mother, Susan Duff, will executive produce. While the deal doesn't guarantee that a pilot will be shot, CBS will pay a substantial penalty if it isn't, sources said. Terms were not disclosed.

Duff, who rocketed to fame on Disney Channel's hit "Lizzie McGuire" series and the subsequent Disney feature "The Lizzie McGuire Movie," was the focus of determined bidding among several networks, believed to include NBC and Fox.

But CBS, which has long been the oldest-skewing network, viewed signing Duff as an opportunity to make further inroads among younger viewers. While no writers are yet attached, CBS is looking to develop a series that will connect with adults as well as kids, broadening Duff's appeal beyond her core preteen and teen audience.

The TV future of Duff has been a hot topic since "Lizzie McGuire" concluded production in July 2002. Disney Channel produced a total of 65 episodes, three of which have yet to air. Duff and her representatives had a public falling-out with Disney after the two sides could not come to terms over a proposed sequel to "The Lizzie McGuire Movie."

Later this month, Duff starts her first national concert tour in support of her Walt Disney solo debut album, "Metamorphosis," which topped The Billboard 200 and has sold 1.1 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. Her film credits include "Agent Cody Banks," 20th Century Fox's upcoming "Cheaper by the Dozen" and a starring role in Warner Bros. Pictures' summer 2004 offering "A Cinderella Story."