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ABC might pick up ‘King of the Hill’

Cancelled Fox show would be good fit at net

Reports of “King of the Hill’s” dethronement may have been premature.

At least one network has expressed interest in “King,” which was handed its pinkslip just last week by Fox.

The suitor is believed to be ABC, as “King of the Hill” would make a strong companion to the net’s upcoming animated comedy “The Goode Family,” which comes from “King of the Hill” exec producers Mike Judge, John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky.

A “King of the Hill” pickup would give ABC a well-known franchise to bolster the chances for “Goode Family.” It’s a de facto network scheduling rule, learned at Fox through years of trial and error, that animated half-hours fit best with other animated half-hours.

Fox’s decision not to order any new episodes of “King of the Hill,” meanwhile, came just three days before the animated laffer posted its best ratings in a year, averaging a 4.3 rating/10 share in adults 18-49 on Sunday night.

Still, network insiders said Fox won’t likely change its mind on the cancellation. Net execs are looking to freshen up their animated stable, and after 260 episodes, they believed “King of the Hill” was ready for retirement.

Other potential homes for the toon include Comedy Central, FX and Cartoon Network. But the show, which would be entering its 14th season, is believed to be too expensive for a cabler at this point in its run.

If another network picks up “King of the Hill,” there’s a remote possibility the show could wind up airing on two nets at once, as Fox’s stockpile of original “King” episodes will keep the show on that net through next fall. It’s expected, however, that whichever network purchases the show would wait for the Fox broadcast window to conclude.

Given the lengthy lead time on animated projects, the 14th season of “King” probably wouldn’t be available to ABC until late 2009 or early 2010. The Alphabet web could always purchase leftover segs from Fox should the network decide to part ways with the show at the end of this season.

Whatever the case, “King of the Hill” could very well become the primetime series that couldn’t be killed. The show has already been halted and revived in the past — which is why its producers have never written a series finale.

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