PLUGGED IN TO POP CULTURE TV stars promote new fall programs


Los Angeles -- Linda Evans, Cheech Marin, M.C. Hammer and "The Simpsons."

It was pop culture on parade this weekend as Fox and ABC continued to trot out stars of their fall shows in a seemingly endless loop of press conferences -- a reflection of the non-stop, 24-hour-a-day loop of programming itself in the new TV universe.

Here's the news from the trenches at the pop culture front.

* ABC is selling it as: "The series of the '80s becomes the mini-series event of the '90s."

"Dynasty" is coming back as a two-night, four-hour miniseries on Oct. 20 and 22. "Dynasty: The Miniseries" is going to be used as counterprogramming against league championship baseball on CBS. ABC's idea is that women will want to watch "Dynasty" instead of baseball.

At a press conference, which included Linda Evans and John Forsythe, executive producer Esther Shapiro emphasized that the miniseries "was going to reflect the changes that went on between the '80s and the '90s."

When asked how "Dynasty," which epitomized the excess of the '80s, was going to do that, costume designer Nolan Miller said, "Between Linda and Joan [Collins] they only have 42 costume changes in the miniseries. We tried to hold it down a little [and be] more realistic this time and very much in the '90s."

Only 42. How '90s of them.

* Matt Groening and James L. Brooks, "The Simpsons" brain trust, announced that all the Simpsons -- except for Bart -- are going to have nervous breakdowns in various episodes this year. They also announced that guest appearances will be made by everybody from Michael Jackson to Jose Canseco.

When asked about the controversy over the Emmy folks again putting "The Simpsons" in a cartoon category and refusing to allow them to compete with live actors for best comedy awards, Groening said he didn't like it one bit. On the other hand, he added, "There is a certain guilty satisfaction in stomping 'The Smurfs.' "

* Cheech Marin, of "Cheech and Chong" fame, is returning to the public eye this year as executive producer and co-star of "Culture Clash," a Fox show featuring a Latino comedy trio called Culture Clash.

When asked the rather bizarre question by one TV critic as to what kind of people he wanted to watch the show, Marin replied, "People with television sets in their living rooms."

* Rapper M.C. Hammer, who is going to star in an ABC Saturday morning children's show, sent some critics' blood racing when he announced that he was challenging Michael Jackson to a dance-off.

As they rushed for the phones to call their editors with this news, one reporter asked if the challenge wasn't simply self-promotion.

'No," Hammer said. "I don't need self-promotion. I'm already on everything."

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