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On The Air

The latest news from the TV beat

Sein of Success?
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, get ready for your close-up. Despite last year’s high-profile flop of The Michael Richards Show and the so-far-so-painful debut of Jason Alexander’s sitcom Bob Patterson, NBC is still betting that a Seinfeld alum can boost its comedy lineup come March. The Peacock has ordered 12 episodes of Louis-Dreyfus’ sitcom 23:12 (not to be confused with the Fox drama 24), in which the ex-Elaine stars as a lounge singer-cum-voice-over artist living in L.A. Unlike her predecessors’ shows, early buzz has been good for Louis-Dreyfus’ comedy, which will be shot in real time (the title refers to the length of an episode, minus commercials). ”Out of those three, she’s definitely the star,” says a source close to the show, on why Louis-Dreyfus’ fate will be different from Richards’ and Alexander’s. NBC topper Jeff Zucker certainly feels like he got the pick of the crop (he passed on Alexander’s pitch for Patterson before ABC picked it up) and has no fears of a Seinfeld curse. ”Clearly, the audience gave Michael a chance – the show opened to very big numbers,” says Zucker of Richards’ fall 2000 premiere, which attracted 15.2 million viewers. ”I think everyone gets a shot if you promote it and position it correctly. I’m not worried about it. No question, Julia is a huge, lovable TV star, and I think people would love to see her back.” Just as long as she keeps those floral skirts and two-toned loafers locked away.

Kiss and Tell
What the heck is Kiss’ Gene Simmons doing hanging out with the suits at Court TV? The aging rocker is shooting a documentary for the cabler called The Secret History of Rock ‘n’ Roll (set to air Dec. 4), which will expose the ugly underbelly of groups like Guns N’ Roses and (gasp!) the Beach Boys. Says Simmons: ”Its all about how idiotic rock & roll musicians are. We talk about how some of the original godfathers of rock & roll created a corrupt system, which it is. The original guys used to steal songs and put their names on them. It’s almost like the Sopranos in the music business. And don’t kid yourself. These shady characters are still alive and well.” Hmm, and we thought it was about wearing tight lycra and shaking your booty. In any event, can we expect any exposés on Kiss? ”Not that I’m aware of – but, of course, incriminating yourself is not a good idea,” says Simmons. ”I have the right to remain silent.”

AND SO ON… Hold on to your peacocks – supersizing is back: NBC plans to celebrate the 200th episode of Frasier on Nov. 13 with an extended 40-minute episode. In other sweeps news, Burt Reynolds guest-stars as himself in a November episode of NBC’s Emeril; Pat Benatar plays herself (not to mention sings a little) on the Thanksgiving episode of ABC’s Dharma & Greg. And MTV takes over UPN on Nov. 12 with Teck from The Real World: Hawaii popping up in a Real World parody on The Hughleys, Sway guesting on The Parkers, and Kurt Loder bringing his newsman shtick to Girlfriends. (Additional reporting by Robert Schwartz and Dan Snierson)