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OTRC: Portia de Rossi - Ellen DeGeneres comedy pilot picked up by ABC, sees 'brilliant' woman working for 'less-brainy' sister

A comedy pilot starring Portia de Rossi and co-produced by partner Ellen DeGeneres has found a new home at ABC, OnTheRedCarpet.com has learned.

The project, whose working title is "The Smart One," sees de Rossi, 39, playing "a brilliant and successful woman who begrudgingly goes to work for her less-brainy but more popular sister - a former beauty queen, weather girl and now big-city mayor," according to a network statement obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com on Friday, February 3.

In September, it was reported the pilot would air on NBC. Deadline.com said the network gave up the pilot to ABC partially due to NBC Universal's "long-standing relationship with DeGeneres," whose syndicated daytime talk show, "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," airs on NBC-owned stations.

When asked about the matter, an NBC spokesperson said: "We don't comment on projects in development."

The half-hour, multi-camera pilot is a collaboration between DeGeneres' A Very Good Production and Warner Bros. Television, which produces her talk show. De Rossi's last scripted television role was in the ABC comedy series "Better Off Ted," which was canceled in 2010 after two seasons.

DeGeneres, 54, has not been confirmed to appear on the new pilot. She has never starred with de Rossi on a scripted series. Degeneres will serve an executive producer of the new pilot, along with Lauren Corrao and Donald Todd, who is also the writer. He previously penned scripts for shows such as the ABC sitcom "Samantha Who?" and "Heart of Dixie."

DeGeneres and de Rossi wed in August of 2008, at a time when same-sex marriages were made legal in California for several months before a majority of voters approved the Proposition 8 ballot initiative to ban them.

Before she launched her talk show in 2003, DeGeneres starred in her own ABC sitcom, "Ellen," which ran between 1994 and 1998. She came out as a lesbian in April 1997. So did her character, in what became a controversial episode that spurred several companies, such as the Chrysler Corporation, to pull its advertisements, and caused scores of viewers to stop watching the show.

Her talk series is now one of the most popular daytime programs and has won 35 Emmys, including the 2011 award for Outstanding Talk Show.

De Rossi also previously starred on the FOX sitcoms "Ally McBeal" and "Arrested Development" and on the FX show "Nip/Tuck."

She is set to reprise her "Arrested Development" character, Lindsay Bluth Funke, in new episodes of the cult series that are set to premiere on the subscription service Netflix.

"We're really doing this thing," co-executive producer Dean Lorey said on his blog on January 28." Mitch Hurwitz, Jim Vallely and I are off writing the new season of 'Arrested' to premiere on Netflix in 2013. The original cast is back. There are offices and parking spaces. We're shooting this year. I wish I could give more specifics but, for the moment, even the schedule is being kept under wraps."

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