The latest news from the TV beat -- ''Blood Brothers'' and ''Ally McBeal'' made news the week of April 3, 1998

By Joe Flint
Updated April 03, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

Blood Brothers

The WB is already talking about creating a spin-off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the show’s producers, Twentieth Century Fox TV. Creator Joss Whedon (along with coexecutive producer David Greenwalt) is said to be up for the challenge of duplicating his cult hit. One stipulation: If the new series — which would debut in fall 1999 — is to materialize, Twentieth is demanding a 13-episode commitment from The WB.

Outfoxing the Competition

Don’t ever say Rupert Murdoch doesn’t believe in charity. In fact, his Twentieth Century Fox TV studio and his Fox Broadcasting network are going out of their way to help their hapless competitor ABC.

Come again? That’s right, the much-anticipated crossover of David E. Kelley-produced Monday-night shows Ally McBeal (9-10 p.m. on Fox) and The Practice (10-11 p.m. on ABC) will do little to benefit Fox, since Ally is already an established hit, but it could do a lot for the Alphabet’s legal drama, which is still trying to find an audience.

Fox affiliates are so miffed about the crossover — since it will encourage Fox viewers to switch over to ABC after Ally ends — that some are considering preempting the episode altogether.

”This is ridiculous,” says Murray Green, chairman of the Fox affiliate board and senior VP at Malrite Communications, which owns two Fox stations. ”We’re helping ABC build a show that is of no benefit to Fox, and that is not our role.”

Fox isn’t commenting, but it’s clearly caught in a bind. Insiders there say the network feels the affiliates’ pain but is also eager to keep Kelley (who’s currently based at Twentieth Century Fox) happy so he’ll continue producing hits for the studio.

Despite the tough talk from the affiliates, a preemption seems unlikely. For starters, they’d be cutting off their nose to spite their face, since their ratings would drop far more by not airing Ally than they would if a few viewers turn away at 10 p.m. However, if Kelley tries this again with his tepid CBS drama Chicago Hope, expect everyone to revolt.