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Fox firms up fall

'Bernie,' 'Malcolm,' '24,' 'OC' set to return

HOLLYWOOD — Fox continues to put the pieces in place for fall, renewing another four shows for the 2004-05 season.

Back for another year are hit laffers “The Bernie Mac Show” and “Malcolm in the Middle” and cult fave dramas “24” and “The OC.”

Separately, the network picked up Saturday latenight sketch comedy “Mad TV” for another three years.

“You’re looking at four spectacular TV shows, ones we’re extremely proud of and (that) continue to perform week-to-week,” said Fox Entertainment prexy Gail Berman. “These celebrated and groundbreaking shows are the backbone of Fox’s scripted programming.”

Pickups joined previously renewed sitcoms “That ’70s Show,” “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill.”

Also, new series “North Shore,” “The Jury,” “Method & Red” and “Quintuplets,” if successful, could continue into the regular season.

Fox still hasn’t determined the fates of actioner “Tru Calling” and critically acclaimed sitcom “Arrested Development.”

But don’t read too much into that, Berman stressed. According to the exec, the network is still mulling the fate of those and other series on its schedule as the May upfronts approach.

Pickups of “Bernie,” “24,” “OC” and “Malcolm” were hardly a surprise; all four continue to perform decently for the net.

News was especially sweet for “The OC,” the newcomer of the bunch. Warner Bros./Hypnotic/Wonderland drama comes from Josh Schwartz, Doug Liman, McG, Dave Bartis and Bob DeLaurentis.

“To be able to launch a show and bring it back in this day and age is thrilling,” Berman said.

“Malcolm,” meanwhile, which recently hit its 100th episode, returns for its sixth season. Regency TV laffer was created by Linwood Boomer, who also exec produces.

“Obviously, ‘Malcolm’ is dearest to my heart,” said Berman, who developed the show while head of Regency.

Then there’s “Bernie Mac” and “24,” both entering their fourth seasons next year.

“Bernie,” from Regency, 20th Century Fox TV and exec producer Peter Aronson, has been called into active duty on several nights in the past few years and continues to perform for Fox.

” ‘Bernie’ has been the hardest-working show on this network,” Berman said. “Anywhere we put it, it does well.”

And Berman calls this year’s edition of “24,” from 20th Century Fox TV and Imagine, “as good of a TV series as anyone has ever produced.” Joel Surnow, Robert Cochran, Brian Grazer and Howard Gordon exec produce.

As for “Mad TV,” the comedy — which bowed in October 1995 — remains tops with teens and has proven to be a strong competitor over the years vs. the Goliath “Saturday Night Live.” David Salzman, Quincy Jones and Dick Blasucci exec produce for QDe.

“It’s a good franchise, and it just doesn’t get enough credit for performing like it does week in and week out,” Berman said.

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