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TV STUFF: Barbara who?

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Mar 19, 2001 | 11:50am EST

Is Diane Sawyer further honing in on the turf of Barbara Walters?

Probably, as the name game of ABC's venerable television magazine "20/20" continues.

USA Today reported Tuesday that head honchos over at ABC news are once again thinking of renaming the Wednesday's edition of 20/20 (it was changed from "PrimeTime" just last season to reflect the network's decision to consolidate all its news magazines under one unifying brand name) to "20/20/Primetime."

The name might change but the anchors will apparently remain the same. The future "20/20/Primetime" will continue to be hosted by Sawyer and Charles Gibson. But unlike its former "20/20" incarnation, it will air live (like "PrimeTime" once did) and feature correspondents Chris Wallace, Jay Schadler and John Quinones ... (all from "PrimeTime") and a distinctive editorial style that is more reminiscent of ... "PrimeTime."

TELEVISION AWARDS: The Alfred I. Du Pont-Columbia University Awards for excellence in television reporting were handed out Tuesday.

The top honor went to Bill Moyers' "Public Affaires Television" for its documentary on the post-apartheid South Africa. The Silver Batons were shared by Diane Sawyer's "20/20" report on unwanted children in Russia; Bob Simon's "60 Minutes II" report on the Serbs massacre in 1995; "Frontline's" story on the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda; and CNN's Candy Crowley for her coverage of the Clinton impeachment process.

FOX TALKS: Michael J. Fox came out of the woodwork on "Access Hollywood" on Tuesday to discuss his decision to leave "Spin City."

In the two-part interview (the second part will air today), Fox asserted that his current health condition hasn't deteriorated to the point where it prevents him from performing and that his exit is solely based on his preference to spend time on things other than acting.

"Certainly, it is a progressive disease, it doesn't get better," Fox told host Pat O'Brien. "But it hasn't debilitated me. So I thought, 'If that time comes, if it comes when my ability to do things is severely impaired more than it is now, if I'm in the middle of a show or a season, then I have no choices.'"

Fox continued, "So I wanted to make the choice while I could. It wasn't about taking a turn, I didn't suddenly take a turn, it wasn't like I hit a wall. I feel good and I'm happy and I have energy and there's stuff to do."

Fox went on to say that he supports ABC's decision, whether the network decides to continue "Spin City" or not, and will work with the show's producer to come up with the best way for his character's exit.

CAMEO: James Garner will come out of TV retirement to guest star on CBS's "Chicago Hope" this spring. Garner is slated to appear in the drama's last four episodes as a millionaire who takes over the hospital. The actor was last seen on the tube in "Rockford Files" 20 years ago.

WHAM, BAM: "The Sopranos" continues to make television history, as it became the most-watched original drama ever on cable with its season premiere Sunday night. The same episode is predicted to pull in a total of 11.5 million viewers for its four repeated airings this week on HBO.

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