Affleck and Damon: Steve Sands/Corbis Outline
Lynette Rice
February 09, 2001 AT 05:00 AM EST

SLOWED ‘RUNNER’ ABC is discovering that reality does indeed bite when it comes to getting ”The Runner” (the reality show from Matt Damon and Ben Affleck) produced. The show’s premise sics eagle eyed viewers and Internet users on the tail of a ”fugitive.” The Alphabet has yet to lasso an executive producer to helm the project — mostly because it’s fraught with liability concerns. For one, how do you prevent some kook from actually harming the runner? Then, there’s the problem with hidden cameras: ABC wants to track the fugitive, but it can’t photograph ordinary folks in the runner’s vicinity without getting their consent.

Fox is asking the very same questions about ”Wanted,” its own fugitive centric reality show, which has yet to move off the drawing board. ”This is indicative of how hot the reality show trend has become. They’re coming up with ideas that aren’t based in reality,” says one veteran producer. Undaunted, ABC is still promising an early summer delivery on ”The Runner.” ”It’s very important that we not muddy up the very simplicity of the idea,” says co- entertainment chairman Lloyd Braun, ”but it is a challenge.”

TED ALERT In the wake of AOL and Time Warner’s official union, among the many cuts made over at CNN and Turner Broadcasting last week (including 400 jobs at CNN) were ”Showbiz Today” and the Turner Environment Division — two pet projects of Ted Turner when he still had control over the nets. ”Showbiz,” the 17 year old daily series, was dropped in favor of four abbreviated entertainment segments that will air weekdays beginning Feb. 5, while TED — which produced the ecological program ”People Count,” hosted by Turner’s ex Jane Fonda — will not live on in any form.

”These were Ted’s favorite shows,” says Reese Schonfeld, who launched CNN with Turner and is the author of the upcoming book ”Me and Ted Against the World.” ”He put them on the air himself. Maybe it’s some way of telling him, ‘You’re gone, baby.”’ Was that the message Turner himself received? Good question — according to his rep, Turner was unavailable for comment.

AND SO ON… Though it has yet to debut, the Fox college comedy series ”Undeclared” (from ”Freaks and Geeks” exec producer Judd Apatow) has already scored one of the season’s biggest casting coups: Adam Sandler. Making a rare TV appearance, Sandler shows up in an episode, hanging out with the kids after a campus stand up gig. How did the rookie show capture the Cajun Man? Turns out Sandler is buds with Apatow, who did rewrites on ”Happy Gilmore” and ”The Wedding Singer.”

Additional reporting by Dan Snierson

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