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On The Air

The latest news from the TV beat from the week of Nov. 5, 1999

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HE’S GOT THE BEAT It’s a long way from Beverly Hills, 90210 to Manhattan’s mean streets, but that’s exactly where Jason Priestley will find himself when he directs an episode of UPN’s uniform-cops drama, The Beat (set to debut early next year). Exec producer Tom Fontana (Homicide: Life on the Street, Oz) hired Priestley after seeing his Barenaked Ladies rockumentary Barenaked in America (he also directed numerous 90210s).

”I’m really happy to be doing this show,” beams Priestley. ”I was greatly saddened that I never got to direct Homicide, which was my favorite TV show.” Fontana, who says Priestley’s ”got a great energy,” returns the compliment…sort of: ”I haven’t seen a full episode of 90210 — but I’m a huge fan.”

Will the onetime teen idol cause pandemonium when fans spot him shooting on location in New York City? ”No way,” says Priestley. ”I move too quick, bro.” For his part, Fontana isn’t so sure. ”He was just in my office, and all the women in the lobby wanted to meet him,” he reports. ”I had [Homicide costar] Clark Johnson in here last week, and they didn’t give two s — -s about him.”

ALL THE KING’S MEN While entertaining offers from record labels to release the upcoming soundtrack for King of the Hill, exec producers Greg Daniels and Mike Judge devised a pitch of their own. ”I was sitting in this marketing meeting at Geffen Records going, ‘God, this is such a cool environment for a show — all these funky people and lots of really loud music and loony musicians,”’ says Daniels. Fox agreed; it’ll produce the pair’s one-hour, non-animated dramedy pilot about the music biz, which could air next fall.

AND SO ON NYPD Blue gets its slot on Tuesday at 10 p.m. back in January. ABC will move current resident Once and Again to Mondays at 10 p.m. after pro football’s regular season.