EXCLUSIVE: Steve McPherson is betting on young new comedy voices in his first turn as a producer this season. The former ABC topper is backing a half-hour project by Juilliard graduate student Kate Gersten, which has sold to Fox through McPherson’s first-look deal with the network. Lionsgate TV, where McPherson also has a deal, is producing, along with McPherson’s Wonder Monkey and Fishbowl. Gersten is heading into her third year as a playwright fellow at Juilliard. The Fox project, which marks her first TV sale, is based on a play by her and centers on two best friends from high school who reconnect later in life. Gersten has strongly gravitated to comedy, something rather unusual for a young playwright. Fox has a tradition fostering female comedy voices with New Girl creator Liz Meriwether, The Mindy Project creator-star Mindy Kaling and American Dad‘s Nahnatchka Khan, who has a high-profile project in development. McPherson is executive producing the Gersten project, with her serving as co-executive producer. The deal comes on the heels of McPherson selling another comedy from a young writer to Fox, a half-hour written by Brandon Schwartz. Gersten, who also has done some work as an actress, is with Paradigm and the Shuman Co.