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Emergency Exit

NBC could stand to do a little reconstructive surgery on its ER promos. One spot recently touted the drama's April 4 episode as ''Dr. Greene's last day in the ER.'' Titillating, sure, but entirely misleading: Although Anthony Edwards' character did leave the hospital, Edwards himself won't depart the show until May 9. The Peacock realizes it may have pulled a bit of a fast one. ''We try to be smart promotionally and point out crucial episodes,'' says NBC rep Rebecca Marks, ''but we also want to be clear to the audience that there's more to come'' in future weeks. Especially if viewers continue to show up in droves as they did on April 4, when 28.5 million of them tuned in to see Greene turn in his scrubs -- making it the second-most-watched ER this season.

Parental Advisory

NBC has ordered six episodes of Meet My Folks, an unscripted series bowing in July that asks parents to select guys to date their daughter. Executive-produced by Bruce Nash (who's already hit ratings gold with TV Road Trip on the Travel Channel), the pilot follows a California corrections-officer father and a beautician mother as they scrutinize the past and present lives of three suitors, who temporarily bunk in their home. The happy couple ultimately get a free weeklong date in Hawaii, but Nash insists the journey is far more compelling than the destination. ''There's really a spirit of camaraderie among the guys. It's trial by ordeal with the parents,'' he says, adding, ''It's not just another tawdry, mean-spirited reality show. It has a sense of humor to it.''

'Hospital' Policy

ABC has recruited prime-time soap king Charles Pratt Jr. (Melrose Place) to resuscitate General Hospital, which once ranked No. 1 in daytime among women 18 to 49, but now often sinks as low as third place behind CBS' The Young and the Restless and NBC's Days of Our Lives. Gee, could ridiculous plots like the freezing and unfreezing of resident villain Stavros Cassadine (Robert Kelker-Kelly) be to blame? ''It could be a little more real,'' admits Pratt, who actually started his career on GH almost 20 years ago. ''Everyone on this show has come back from the dead! I was watching the monitor the other day, and Denise Alexander [who plays Laura's mother, Lesley Webber] appears. I told them I wrote the show where she died! Then somebody says, 'Oh, she came back.''' Pratt plans to liven up GH by looking to Melrose for potential guest stars. ''Heather Locklear would never do daytime, but I wouldn't mind going out and finding one or two people from prime time,'' says Pratt. How 'bout Marcia Cross as an evil Nurse Ratched?

AND SO ON...

TV vet Fred Silverman -- who developed The Mary Tyler Moore Show and All in the Family while helming CBS programming, and The Love Boat and Happy Days while running ABC in the '70s -- has been asked to serve as a prime-time consultant to the ailing ABC. Here's an idea: Replace According to Jim's Jim Belushi with Gopher!

Originally posted May 31, 2002 Published in issue #650-651 Apr 26, 2002 Order article reprints