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On the Air

The latest news from the TV beat, including ‘Twilight Zone’, ’24’ and more…

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Finale Fantasies

Fox’s 24 may not pull in the numbers of a Survivor finale, but producers of the real-time show are still taking great pains to make the season ender a surprise for its fans. Creators-executive producers Robert Cochran and Joel Surnow have shot three radically different endings to keep everyone guessing; even star Kiefer Sutherland won’t know his fate until the finale airs May 21, Cochran claims. ”I don’t want to give anything away, but I do think the ending is consistent with what is presented in the previous 23 episodes,” he says. Gee, thanks for that. But it’s no secret that Cochran feels 24 should come back for another year, and he’d like the format to stay as is, despite reports that Fox may want to kill the serialized aspect and use shorter story arcs. ”Serialization is the hallmark of the show, but I recognize there are a lot of considerations,” says Cochran. ”You can’t have the daughter run away and be kidnapped every day. We have to come up with ways of doing a family story without it getting so ridiculous that it seems silly.”

Repeat Pretenders

Out with the new, in with the old. Several series from TV’s past are looking to make a comeback this fall, from the remakes of Family Affair and The Lone Ranger at The WB to a new Nancy Drew series at ABC, an update of Irwin Allen’s Time Tunnel at Fox, and a new Twilight Zone over at UPN. NBC, meanwhile, doesn’t want to wait until September to unveil its trip down memory lane. A summer berth is being considered for The Rerun Show, a comedy in which actors reenact classic scenes from sitcoms like The Facts of Life and Diff’rent Strokes while incorporating the stars’ real-life problems (like Todd Bridges’ run-ins with the law) for added laughs. But the real humor of The Rerun Show may come from the original scripts themselves, says Jeff Gaspin, NBC’s exec VP of alternative series. ”You just can’t believe what was originally said. Look at some of producer Norman Lear’s [All in the Family] stuff. You remember these shows being groundbreaking, and now you wonder if you can even say those things on the air because of political correctness.” Whatchootalkinbout, Jeff?

And So On… Asian-American advocacy groups are keeping a close eye on ABC’s The Chang Family Saves the World, an action drama in development for fall that chronicles a modern-day family of ”ancient” temple warriors who battle evil. Organizations like the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium are happy to see the first series in seven years to feature Asian-American leads (the last being All-American Girl, starring Margaret Cho, which ran from 1994 to ’95), but would prefer that it didn’t come with a butt-kicking element. ”We want to see Asian Americans doing everything they do in real life—and most, in fact, do not know the martial arts,” says NAPALC president Karen Narasaki. An ABC insider insists Chang, if picked up, will also focus on ”family relationships.”