Nathaniel Welch/Corbis Outline
Dan Snierson and Lynette Rice
March 13, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

When ABC announced that Kevin Smith’s ”midseason” animated sitcom based on his feature ”Clerks” wouldn’t debut until May 31, the filmmaker didn’t play Silent Bob — he took out his frustration on his The View Askewniverse website. (See: ”How we got f—ed by ABC. Hard.”) Now Smith tells EW that he regrets taking ABC’s six-episode commitment: ”It just burns my ass because we had other places we could have gone. UPN offered us 13 episodes on the air.”

ABC defends the shuffle, pointing to the summer success of ”Millionaire,” but Smith isn’t satisfied. ”I’ve discussed [with ”Clerks” production company Miramax] the possibility of buying it back and releasing it as a feature,” he says. ”The idea of taking a movie and turning it into a cartoon that never airs on TV but instead [becomes a] movie — that’d be trippy.”

Smith may be the only person who might have something bad to say about ”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” though. It’s the game show that keeps on giving: It not only provided ABC with a February sweeps win — it took up 18 percent of the schedule — but it even injected some growth hormones into the competition. Four of this season’s most watched episodes of Fox’s ”The X-Files” and UPN’s ”Smackdown!” have aired in head-to-head competition with Reege, and CBS’ ”JAG” earned its best-ever adults 18-49 performance against an hour-long ”Millionaire” on Feb. 15.

”Basically more people are tuning in,” says media analyst Bill Croasdale. ”They’re tuning into ‘Millionaire’ and are then saying, ‘Let’s see what’s on other channels,’ and getting wrapped up in ‘JAG”s story line.” A CBS exec has another theory on the success of that Australian-based ”JAG” episode: ”Catherine Bell in a bikini didn’t hurt.”

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