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West Wing creator pens drama series hailed as the new Lost

LONDON – 'West Wing' creator Aaron Sorkin is back with a new comedy drama series that takes a satirical look at cocaine abuse in Los Angeles and is being tipped as "the next big US drama" to knock 'Lost' from its pedestal.

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Costing over $2m (£1.1m) per hour-long episode, 'Studio 7 on the Sunset Strip' is a Warner Brothers production taking a behind the scenes look at a fictional LA talkshow 'Studio 7', which is similar to the real-life 'saturday Night Live' show.

One of the key storylines is the executive producer of the network who has a serious cocaine problem. He breaks down in front of fictional celebrity host ' Desperate Houswives' actress Felicity Huffman.

The series mirrors Sorkin's own life, which has been troubled by drug use. In 2001 he was arrested for carrying cocaine and marijuana.

The drama also takes a satirical look at conflicts between cast and crew and the larger corporate culture of the network.

US Network NBC has snapped up the rights to the 13-part show and plans to screen it in peaktime from next year. The network's contract for the show will see it run into five or six series.

A UK buyer has yet to be lined up, but Channel 4, which screens 'The West Wing' starring Martin Sheen as president Bartlet, and Sky are likely bidders.

As well as the critically acclaimed Sorkin, who penned hit US drama 'Sports Night' and 'West Wing', 'Studio 7' is being directed by Tommy Schlamme who directed the 'West Wing' and 'ER'.

Kevin Reilly, president of entertainment at NBC, said: "Sorkin's work is truly in a class of its own, and Tommy Schlamme, time and gain has delivered exceptional television. This project is a noisy compelling combination of bold drama and laugh-out loud comedy."

NBC is expecting big ratings for the show to outperform hit ABC Network drama 'Lost', which has been a huge hit both sides of the Atlantic.

Channel 4 debuted 'Lost' with a peak of 6.4m viewers in August, the highest to date for a US import.

The second series recently shows on the ABC network in the US with 23.4m viewers, the biggest audience for the show so far.

According to figures from Nielsen Media Research, the second series debut of 'Lost' topped the first series finale, which pulled in 20.7m in May.

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