Bureau Takes a Fall
The truth may be out there, but many fans of The X-Files aren't waiting around to hear it: The Fox drama is down a surprising 29 percent in viewers after only five airings, and has already lost the time slot three times to ABC's Alias. While X-Philes complain that the sci-fi series has lost its intrigue (''It's like the writers no longer care about producing a quality product,'' laments one online fan), exec producer Frank Spotnitz disagrees, saying the writers are currently toiling to establish Agent John Doggett (Robert Patrick) and Agent Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish). ''To place two new characters at the center of a nine-year-old show has never been tried before,'' he says. ''But some people feel disloyal to Mulder and Scully if they're asked to embrace new characters.'' Which is why Spotnitz and Co. plan to revisit the old ones beginning Jan. 6. Look for some answers to Mulder's whereabouts, and in February expect a better explanation of his absentee relationship with Gillian Anderson's Scully (we'll find out who's after her baby, too). Unfortunately, your chances of solving the long-running conspiracy are far greater than seeing David Duchovny return. Says Spotnitz: ''I wouldn't expect to see him on the show again, but that doesn't mean Mulder won't continue.'' Of course, that doesn't mean fans will continue watching, either.
Christopher Titus will once again attempt to prove that fact can be funnier than fiction by depicting his mother's real-life murder trial in the Jan. 9 episode of his Fox sitcom Titus. Connie Stevens plays the schizophrenic matron charged with murdering her second husband in self-defense after he savagely beat her. (Riotous, eh?) Titus insists the dark chapter in his family's history can be played for laughs because mommy dearest was acquitted of the crime. ''I believe anything can be funny if it's set up right,'' says Titus, who opens the episode by saying, ''She's my mom. No matter what she did, I can't just walk away from her. She gave me birth. She gave me love. She gave me the ability to make a cigarette fire look like it was started by the hot water heater.'' In fact, Titus is so sold on his mother's gut-busting antics that he plans to depict her actual suicide later this season. ''[The murder] was one moment in Mom's life that was totally clear, totally sane. And the insurance company even believed that she did the right thing because they paid her $100,000 for his life insurance policy.'' Now that's a knee-slapper.
AND SO ON... CBS may have figured out a way to make hay out of the phenomenal ratings it received for its Carol Burnett special in November. Sources say the Eye is in talks with Burnett to produce and possibly star as the queen in Once Upon a Mattressthe Mary Rodgers musical that helped launch her career more than 40 years ago. Actually, Burnett played the princess in her Broadway debut and in two TV versions of the musical in 1964 and 1972 for CBS. An Eye spokesman wouldn't comment. The last time CBS aired a musical was in 1996 when it presented Mrs. Santa Claus with Angela Lansbury.