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On the Air

The latest news from the TV beat

SPORTIN’ A WOODY It was a million-to-one shot, but NBC’s Just Shoot Me — quietly turning into a sophomore ratings success — has scored the cameo of the season: Woody Allen’s sitcom debut. Granted, the Wood Man phoned his performance in — but that was the point. In the Nov. 18 episode, magazine writer Maya Gallo (Laura San Giacomo) pens a piece on a fantasy date with Allen. When a Woody impersonator pursues her, she dates him knowing he’s a fake. After Maya dumps the faux Allen, the real one calls — and, of course, she doesn’t believe it’s him.

Shoot Me exec producer Steven Levitan says they sent Allen a tape of the episode on a lark, never believing the director would agree to donate his voice: ”There was stunned silence when we got Woody’s tape.” Brad Grey, head of Brillstein-Grey Communications, which produces Shoot Me, says Levitan then wrote him some dialogue and reshot the ending. ”If he enjoys it, maybe The Woody Allen Show could be next,” says Grey. Yeah, right; it can air right after that J.D. Salinger drama.

HARD NEWS 60 Minutes exec producer Don Hewitt is never shy about criticizing the softball tactics of the competition, and often he’s right: TV newsmags are more entertainment than news these days. So what was Hewitt thinking when he aired that fluffy Nov. 9 tribute to Touched by an Angel exec producer Martha Williamson? Forget the questionable judgment in publicizing another CBS show; that sort of line crossing has become distressingly commonplace. More disconcerting was Ed Bradley’s white-glove handling of Williamson — no questions about criticism of her series (that it’s sanctimonious); barely a mention of the other religious-themed shows popping up in prime time (ABC’s Nothing Sacred and Soul Man, UPN’s Good News); no talk of Angel star Della Reese’s recent demands that CBS touch her with more cash. Yes, the segment was taped before this season, then held for sweeps, but updates are pretty standard. Hewitt, usually so outspoken, was unavailable for comment.

AND SO ON Two last-minute cancellations from NBC and Fox: Both Sleepwalkers (after just two airings) and The Visitor have gone the way of TimeCop.