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TV STUFF: Dysfunction Junction

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Mar 19, 2001 | 11:50am EST

If ABC was glitter and NBC was substance, Fox tried to impress the critics with both as it trotted out two days worth of very fancy food and a line-up heavy on new shows for the fall season. Gail Berman, the new Fox Network president, swore that the crash and burn of several predecessors didn't faze her at all. But the death of sex-and-angst dramas "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Party of Five" may have, so Fox is banking on two dysfunctional family sitcoms, "Titus" and "Malcolm in the Middle."

Also returning next season is "X-Files," with less Duchovny and more Robert Patrick ("Terminator 2"), who will be joining the cast as FBI Inspector John Doggett. Other forays into the paranormal include "Freaky Links," starring Ethan Embry ("Can't Hardly Wait") and "Night Visions," a "Twilight Zone"-style anthology series.

"Visions" co-creators Dan Angel and Billy Brown were on hand to tell scary stories at a lunch complete with flickering votives and mini-grave centerpieces. Later, "Dark Angel" producers introduced 19-year-old star Jessica Alba while co-creator James Cameron answered questions via satellite from a "secret location" (where he's probably honeymooning with new wife Suzy Amis).

Another cast of sexy young things appears in Darren Star's "The $treet," which promises to be a PG-13, male "Sex and the City" (another Star production) with three bonafide movie stars -- Tom Everett Scott ("That Thing You Do"), Jennifer Connelly ("Waking the Dead") and Adam Goldberg ("Saving Private Ryan"). "Ally McBeal" creator David E. Kelly also introduced his new ensemble drama "Boston Public," about improbably attractive school teachers.

Reporters grilled John Goodman and producers Bonnie and Terry Turner about changes in their new untitled show and wondered whether Goodman would bring "gay characteristics" to his character, a divorced gay dad who returns to Beantown after living in L.A.

Then there was a presentation on "The Tick," wherein Patrick Warburton (Elaine's boyfriend Puddy on "Seinfeld") plays the live-action version of the big blue animated hero.

Fox's only foray into reality TV this year is "American High," a show that follows real students in a middle-class Chicago suburb. One of the students, Morgan Moss, vied to become the next Puck (of "The Real World" renown), declaring: "I am a new breed of human being."

Moss and fellow students Robby Nathan and Sarah Mages looked appropriately Hollywood at Fox's starry closing bash, held at Yamashiro, a Japanese restaurant in the Hollywood Hills. Bart and Homer didn't show, but Rashida Jones (Quincy's daughter), Calista Flockhart, Goodman, Alba and other network stars (and stars-to-be) sake-bombed their way through the night's celebration.

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