The Please Watch the Jon Lovitz Special

The show's one innovation lies in having filmmakers (Rob Reiner, Jerry Bruckheimer) in the audience equipped with phones so they can call Lovitz onstage and offer him feature work, though the gag got pummeled into the ground by having the line repeatedly ring to ask for other cast members.

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At least an all-star audience had to endure this live half-hour along with critics and the few "Married ... With Children" viewers too lazy to change the channel. Self-indulgent and cliched, Jon Lovitz's special/pilot never comes close to funny and only proves that its namesake belongs back in two-minute skits on "Saturday Night Live."

The show’s one innovation lies in having filmmakers (Rob Reiner, Jerry Bruckheimer) in the audience equipped with phones so they can call Lovitz onstage and offer him feature work, though the gag got pummeled into the ground by having the line repeatedly ring to ask for other cast members.

Lovitz and company put on a sort-of play about a baseball player interrupted by the phone calls and other schtick–the lone highlight being a segment in which the comic smooches with model Carol Alt, titled “Live Through Me.”

That brand of cleverness is in short supply, however, and there’s little clue as to what this special was supposed to be other than what David Letterman might call a “network time-killer.” The combination of doing a play and variety elements doesn’t mesh, and the production offers no discernible reason for doing it live.

Lovitz is basically a one-note comic whogarnered attention for his very funny pathological liar character on “SNL,” but how much of that can the audience take? In the special, he played more toward his master thespian character, a reminder that making fun of bad acting can backfire when it’s done badly.

Fox has had success with the variety form thanks to “In Living Color” but doesn’t figure to add to that genre with this entry, especially after the header it took in Sunday’s overnights. As even the liar would acknowledge, that’s not the ticket for more episodes.

The Please Watch the Jon Lovitz Special

(Sun. (17), 9:30-10 p.m., Fox)

Production: Filmed by Brillstein/Grey Entertainment in association with Castle Rock Enterprises. Exec producers, Alan Zweibel, Jon Lovitz, Bernie Brillstein, Brad Grey; coordinating producer, Terri Miller; producer, Rita Dillon; director, Don Mischer.

Cast: At least an all-star audience had to endure this live half-hour along with critics and the few "Married ... With Children" viewers too lazy to change the channel. Self-indulgent and cliched, Jon Lovitz's special/pilot never comes close to funny and only proves that its namesake belongs back in two-minute skits on "Saturday Night Live."

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