Rest assured, X-philes. Conspiracy theories, paranormal activities, unexplained phenomena -- the stuff that keeps Mulder, Sculley, and "X-Files" fanatics going -- are about to find another outlet on network TV.
While the fate of the popular Fox sci-fier is still up in the air, the network is officially rolling out plans to keep the spirit of paranoia alive in another form. So who's in charge of picking up the truth-seeking torch? Three subterranean computer geeks irregularly showcased on the sci-fi series, known as the Lone Gunmen (a k a actors Bruce Harwood , Tom Braidwood and Dean Haglund).
Top honchos at Fox confirmed on Thursday that a pilot for an "X-Files" spin-off, featuring the conspiracy-obsessed trio, has been given the go-ahead. The show's being considered for the 2000-2001 prime-time season.
Created by "X-Files" architect Chris Carter and series behind-the-sceners Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan and John Shiban, the offshoot is said to be a light drama with an aura of quirkiness. And even though the tenuous romance angle à la Mulder and Sculley won't be reproduced, the show will reportedly introduce similar sexual tension in the form of a competing female conspiracy theorist whom the Lone Gunmen lust after -- and resent.
In the midst of all the hubbub surrounding the spin-off, someone from the Fox and Carter camp apparently forgot to notify the Gunmen themselves. Dean Haglund, the guy with the long-hair heavy-metal do who plays Langley, took his head-scratching confusion to The Lone Gunmen fansite (http://www.deanx.com/buzz.htm) when he heard words of a "X-Files" spin-off in which he, and his other two cohorts, are tapped to be the leads. He wrote:
"I'm sure that many of you now have read about the Television Critics Association's (Hence known as the TCA) afternoon session with the heads of Fox television where they announced that Chris Carter was planning a spin-off of the lone Gunmen.
"... Anyway, we are at this thing and we have to work later that night so we have to leave early but, basically, everyone crowds around the three of us and asked us about the spin off. Now there has been a half joking rumor about this for the longest time so it was with reflex action that we all spoke to the press telling them that there was nothing to it. Then they said that the President of Fox just said so."
No word yet if Haglund and his crew are working on some sort of elaborate conspiracy theory regarding what the Lone Gunmen might call the spin-off cover-up.
Let's hear it for the old guy who in this movie comes off sexier than his buff young accomplice (Dermot Mulroney). OK the old guy happens to be the gracefully aging icon Paul Newman -- as a feisty heistmeister who dodges a long prison sentence and then teams up with his equally conniving rest-home nurse (Linda Fiorentino) on a bank job gone wrong. "Where the Money Is" is breezy suspenseful and as much a love story as anything else -- if you call mentoring a new life in crime a kind of love. The mission-improbable caper is no more or less entertaining than a "Rockford Files" rerun but the film's swerving joyride takes its real thrills from the great escape that Fiorentino's Bonnie Parker makes from a dead-end life in the married lane.
Newman still hasn't lost it and as Henry Manning he doesn't miss any nuances in the edgy balance between streetwise wariness and amiable rapport with his sultry new colleague. The steam-powered Fiorentino has forged her career by making danger look casual and this is her most alluring work since "The Last Seduction" added another zero to her salary. Her chemistry with Newman a flirty twist on the idea of honor among thieves is really what makes this movie worth seeing. Mulroney is serviceable as the dim but lovable hubby a supporting role that's more foil than fully etched character.
We can all thank director Marek Kanievska for deciding not to have the May-December duo end up in the sack and leaving them simply professional cohorts. The director's admirable sense of comic timing works all the better by not letting the laughs get in the way of his leads' exploration of their characters -- although there's no denying the limits of this frothy genre. Perhaps Kanievska's greatest feat here is allowing Newman to retain his dignity in close-up.