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On The Air

The latest news from the TV beat week of Feb. 4,2000

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‘Spin’ Cycle

If the actions of the staff are any indication, Spin City will not be going forward without Michael J. Fox, who’s leaving the show to battle with Parkinson’s disease. Agents representing writers on the ABC comedy confirmed that their clients are ”literally out there scrambling for jobs.” Sure, there’s been talk about keeping the sitcom alive for another season, or at least launching a Spin spin-off, but right now that’s all just speculation. “We don’t have a definitive answer,” says DreamWorks TV head Dan McDermott, who plans to make a final decision in the next two weeks. ”We’re exploring all options, and anything is possible.”

Let’s Make a Deal

It’s not exactly the quiz-show scandals of the ’50s, but it appears ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire did a little rigging of its own. In a Jan. 13 taping, host Regis Philbin interviewed contestant Sean Farrelly’s father. The recently retired fellow said he wanted to pursue acting, and dreamed of a guest shot on NBC’s Law & Order. During a break, a Millionaire rep asked the would-be thespian to reshoot the interview. The problem? He cited an NBC series. The suggested solution: Substitute ABC’s The Practice for L&O. “It must have been meant in a joking way,” says Millionaire exec producer Michael Davies, who points out that other competing networks’ series have been mentioned on the show. “It certainly wasn’t a direction that came from the control room.” In any case, the stab at corporate synergy was not to be: During his second interview, Dad flubbed his lines — and failed to mention either show.

Laughing Matters

It’s sitcom-development time again, and this year that means the networks are busy copycatting HBO’s Sex and the City. ABC just bought a DreamWorks half hour described as a male-oriented Sex, and Fox also has one from Miramax in the works. Other series are undergoing sex changes as well: Fox snagged a Warner Bros. TV dramedy dubbed a male, post-collegiate Felicity, and CBS picked up a Y-chromosomed Ally McBeal from Artists Television Group. Over at NBC, the focus is more on family. The net ordered an Ed Burns script about — what else? — three Long Island brothers, plus a Mad About You-ish project about a 19-year-old married couple. “To succeed in comedy, you need relatability, and one thing we all have to deal with is family,” says Shelley McCrory, NBC’s senior VP of comedy development. “It’ll always be a staple on television.” Especially with all that sex going on.

(Additional reporting by Joshua Rich and Dan Snierson)

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