Friday's edition to focus on 22 most-wanted terrorists

Fox will rush a special edition of “America’s Most Wanted” on the air Friday night, at the request of President Bush.

The White House and the FBI contacted Fox Wednesday in hopes that the long-running crime-fighting series would devote time to exposing alleged global terrorists.

Fox Television Entertainment Group chairman Sandy Grushow has been handed the assignment to produce the episode — titled “America’s Most Wanted: A Special Edition: Terrorists” — within 48 hours. “AMW” exec producer Lance Heflin will directly oversee the episode.

“This was something we wish we had more time to put together, but it seemed quite important to the FBI and White House that we do this as soon as possible, and as soon as possible is Friday night,” Grushow said.

“AMW,” hosted by John Walsh, already has devoted a great deal of time to the Sept. 11 tragedies. Friday’s “AMW” will revolve around a new list of 22 most-wanted terrorists that Bush unveiled Wednesday at the FBI. Osama bin Laden, who was featured on the first “AMW” episode following the New York and Washington tragedies, is among those on the list.

The special edition has been slated for Friday at 9 p.m., which means low-rated frosh drama “Pasadena” will be yanked for the night. “AMW’s” regular telecast has been preempted for baseball playoff coverage Saturday night.

Sources said Fox also may air the “AMW” episode on sister nets including FX, Fox News Channel and Fox Family Channel. Affils additionally may be given the green light to repeat the special at their discretion.

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