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On the Air The latest news from the TV beat

Medic Alert

New story ideas, stat! Fortunately, producers of NBC’s comedyScrubs didn’t have to go far for inspiration: The AmericanMedical Association (AMA) recently made the cast and crewspecial guests at a Los Angeles convention. The event not onlygave a hundred-plus interns and residents a chance to coo overtheir favorite show (”Nobody ever believes how overwhelming thefirst-year internship is,” says Scrubs exec producer BillLawrence. ”They really feel like we got it right”), but it alsogave the show’s scribes a chance to mine for future plotlines.For example, Lawrence plans to incorporate the high-techhospital trend of using robots to dispense medication into anepisode, though, he says, ”we think [the robot] might look fake,like a robot on Family Matters.” And one doc’s anecdote – abouthow he put a delusional patient who thought he was Jesus in thesame room with a delusional patient who thought he was Satan,just to ”talk it out” – may also wind up being sitcom-ized. SaysLawrence, ”We’re putting it on the board, even though it soundskind of cheesy.” Nuh-uh; it sounds like Must See TV!

‘Queens’ for a Day

Not all film stars think TV work is demeaning: Oscar winnerWilliam Hurt will make his sitcom debut on CBS’ King of Queensas a psychiatrist who shrinks some Heffernan heads in thecomedy’s 100th episode May 20. ”We inquired about hisavailability and it turns out William was a big fan of theshow,” says executive producer Josh Goldsmith. ”It’s hard toapproach an Oscar winner to be in your sitcom, but sometimesit’s a case of the pretty girl waiting to be asked.” JerryStiller’s son, Ben Stiller, will join the fun in the sameepisode; the Zoolander star will play Arthur’s father in afamily flashback. Goldsmith says the sky’s the limit when itcomes to luring future guest stars now: ”Hurt has set the barpretty high. We’re calling all other Oscar winners and nomineesto say we have Hurt on the show, just to see how it goes.”

AND SO ON… Carl Reiner says he and nostalgia cabler TV Land areworking to resurrect The Dick Van Dyke Show as a potential CGI orpuppet comedy (no joke). The show will depict Reiner’s character,Alan Brady, as a 75-year-old who’s been on the air for 50 years.”He’s gone through 300 writers – and now has a team of new youngtalent,” says Reiner, who will lend his voice to the project. Theshow is slated to debut late this year or early in 2003, and anetwork source says that the original Rob Petrie, Dick Van Dyke,may participate. Says Reiner, ”These puppets could be very, veryexpensive.” Makes sense; it would take several yards of fabric tofashion all those wrinkles. (Additional reporting by WilliamKeck)

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WINNER OF THE WEEK

[BOX]

WINNER OF THE WEEK

‘Will & Grace’NBC renewed the Emmy-winning sitcom for three more seasons in adeal estimated to be worth more than $300 million. No wonderthey’re so gay.

LOSER OF THE WEEK

VH1The music net’s Late World With Zach debuted with a minuscule 0.2rating. If you launch a talk show and nobody tunes in, does itmake a sound?

THE RATINGS

LURID OF THE RING

It was a knockout week for reality television, as Fox’sCelebrity Boxing (9th) slugged its way into the top 10, alongsideCBS’ temporarily relocated Survivor: Marquesas (1st) and anall-star edition of NBC’s Fear Factor (3rd). The news wasn’t sogood for The Colin Quinn Show (65th), as the ex-SNL anchor’s liveskitcom lost more than half its Fear Factor lead-in. Results weremixed for CBS’ The Amazing Race 2: A Monday-night preview ranked43rd, but the show shot up to 20th in its regular Wednesday slot.It may not have been much of a surprise, but Rosie O’Donnell’scoming-out party on ABC’s Primetime Thursday (12th) earned thenewsmag its highest ratings among viewers 18-49 since ConnieChung’s Gary Condit interview. And the least-likely-to-succeedaward goes to The WB’s My Guide to Becoming a Rock Star, whichdebuted in 104th and 113th.

TOP 30LASTVIEWERS* WEEK

1 20.5 SURVIVOR: MARQUESASCBS, Wednesday, 8 p.m. – 2 20.1 FRIENDS (R)NBC, Thursday, 8 p.m. 33 17.1 FEAR FACTORNBC, Monday, 8 p.m. 314 17.0 LAW & ORDER (R)NBC, Wednesday, 10 p.m. 75 16.6 EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND (R)CBS, Monday, 9 p.m. 66 16.4 JAGCBS, Tuesday, 8 p.m. 157 16.2 BECKERCBS, Monday, 9:30 p.m. 118 15.8 60 MINUTESCBS, Sunday, 7:04 p.m. 129 15.5 CELEBRITY BOXINGFox, Wednesday, 9 p.m. – 10 15.2 LEAP OF FAITHNBC, Thursday, 8:31 p.m. 911 14.9 FRASIERNBC, Tuesday, 9 p.m. 2012 14.4 PRIMETIME THURSDAYABC, Thursday, 9 p.m. 5914.4 THE WEST WING (R)NBC, Wednesday, 9 p.m. 814 13.7 ER (R)NBC, Thursday, 10 p.m. 415 13.6 LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT (R)NBC, Friday, 10 p.m. 1216 13.3 WILL & GRACE (R)NBC, Thursday, 9 p.m. 1013.3 THE PRACTICEABC, Sunday, 10 p.m. 2818 12.6 THE GUARDIANCBS, Tuesday, 9 p.m. 2512.6 THE KING OF QUEENS (R)CBS, Monday, 8 p.m. 1720 12.5 THE AMAZING RACE 2CBS, Wednesday, 9 p.m. – 21 12.2 YES, DEAR (R)CBS, Monday, 8:30 p.m. 1422 12.0 NYPD BLUEABC, Tuesday, 9 p.m. 2923 11.9 LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENTNBC, Sunday, 9 p.m. 4624 11.8 DATELINE NBCNBC, Tuesday, 10 p.m. 4025 11.7 MOVIE: BEYOND THE PRAIRIE IICBS, Sunday, 8:59 p.m. – 11.7 THE SIMPSONSFox, Sunday, 8 p.m. 1911.7 JUST SHOOT ME (R)NBC, Thursday, 9:30 p.m. 1528 11.6 BOSTON PUBLICFox, Monday, 8 p.m. – 29 11.4 SCRUBSNBC, Tuesday, 9:30 p.m. 3230 11.3 DATELINE NBCNBC, Wednesday, 8 p.m. –

*IN MILLIONSWEEK OF MARCH 11-17, 2002SOURCE: NIELSEN MEDIA RESEARCH

SOUND BITES

”About sports or boobies?” Carrie (LEAH REMINI), after Doug(KEVIN JAMES) said he was thinking, on The King of Queens

”Bea Arthur is here. A TV legend. A Golden Girl. Bringing thenumber of Golden Girls who have appeared on this show to two.McClanahan, Getty – you are wily and elusive, but you will bemine.” JON STEWART on The Daily Show

”Does this mean I’m knighted? Or did I just get queened?” JIMMYFALLON, after SIR IAN MCKELLEN (in drag as Dame Maggie Smith)kissed him, on SNL

”Hold everything, ladies and gentlemen: I just got an offer fromTelemundo!” DAVID LETTERMAN on Late Show

”Sally Jessy Raphael announced that after 19 years, her show hasbeen canceled. Executives decided to cancel the show right afterthey realized it was still on the air.” CONAN O’BRIEN on LateNight