Plus "That '80s Show", Mark Burnett's next reality adventure, and the latest news from the TV beat

Let’s Do the Time Warp Again!

Leg warmer alert: Not ready to rest on his laurels with That ’70s Show, executive producer Terry Turner will take another stab at period comedy with That ’80s Show for Fox starting Jan. 23. Turner—together with fellow ’70s executive producers Linda Wallem and Mark Brazill—will set the sitcom in the days of Loverboy and rainbow tops and focus on a group of twentysomethings (including Sweet Valley High grad Brittany Daniel) in San Diego. But it won’t be a sequel, insists Fox Entertainment president Gail Berman, so don’t look for an update of the lives of ’70s stars Eric (Topher Grace) and Donna (Laura Prepon). ”The title should evoke That ’70s Show, and hopefully encourage people who enjoy that show to sample this show. But That ’80s Show will deliver a significantly different comedic situation,” says Berman. ”While ’70s deals with a group of high school buddies and the insular world of their family and neighbors, ’80s is about a group of young adults making their way in the world and the struggle of art versus commerce.” So, will the ’70s kids be time traveling from Point Place, Wis., to California come February sweeps? ”It makes no sense to do crossovers,” says Wallem. ”I used to live in Wisconsin and we would never go to San Diego. It’s too far away.”

Space Jam

Maybe CBS should air this amazing race on Wednesdays: Two reality-show producers are clamoring for the opportunity to send the first American contestant into space next year. Both Phil Gurin, executive producer of NBC’s Weakest Link, and Survivor king Mark Burnett want to do it via Russia’s space program—but only Gurin’s project has secured exclusive rights to the country’s training camp and the Soyuz 212 shuttle flight in October, according to his producing partner, David Krieff. (In fact, Gurin’s also picked up the rights to a similar show in Denmark that will send a civilian on a suborbital flight from Russia.) ”We’re ready to rock,” says Krieff, who claims at least two broadcast nets are interested. ”This will come together in the next couple of weeks and we should have 10 shows completed by February. By the time it begins airing, we will have it timed perfectly to the [live] liftoff in October.” Not so fast, says a source close to Burnett, who signed a $35 million to $40 million deal with NBC last fall to send a civilian into space; he planned to pay the Russians $20 million for use of their space camp and shuttle. ”Dealing with the Russians is not so easy,” says the source, as evidenced by the absence of a start date for Burnett’s project. Frankly, we’ll be surprised if either project ever achieves liftoff.

AND SO ON… When HBO’s Emmy-winning Sex and the City returns in January to finish its fourth season, Candice Bergen will guest-star in an episode as Carrie’s hard-edged boss at Vogue. ”My hope is that Carrie stays at Vogue for season 5 and that Candice comes back on more than one occasion, because she’s really right for this part,” says series producer-star Sarah Jessica Parker. ”She’s hilarious. She’s beautiful. She’s intimidating.”…In other intimidating news, look for Vincent Pastore (The Sopranos‘ Big Pussy) to appear later this season on the Fox comedy Grounded for Life, playing Claudia’s is-he-or-isn’t-he-in-the-Mob Uncle Sal.

That '80s Show
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