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Leaping ahead to media’s future

If you hurry you can change events

NBC’s “30 Rock” had some recent fun lampooning the idea of Leap Day in an episode that otherwise mostly served as a reminder how improbable it is the modestly rated sitcom, introduced in 2006, lived to see a second leap year.

Still, there is something vaguely magical about the concept of Leap Year, and the notion so much can transpire — particularly in the fast-changing media world — in the four-year interval from one Feb. 29 to the next.

With that in mind, we offer some glimpses of Hollywood’s Leap Days yet to come. And yes, like “A Christmas Carol,” these are merely shadows of things that might be, so there’s time to alter the future, but only if you hurry.

Leap Day 2016: The Supreme Court decision striking down election equal-time rules allows Fox News and MSNBC to officially sponsor candidates in presidential primaries, and their entertainment divisions to simultaneously produce tag-along reality shows featuring anointed contenders. In a related move, Fox News CEO Roger Ailes is named chairman of the Republican Party.

“This just formalizes a longstanding relationship,” a spokeswoman says.

Also, a settlement between Simon Cowell and 19 Entertainment clears the way for the Fox network to create “American Idol Factor,” combining its two musical competition shows into a single massive event that runs from Labor Day through Memorial Day.

On another note, critics complain ABC’s 24-hour streaming Oscar preshow amounted to “overkill,” and that 13-time host Billy Crystal’s performance “seemed like more of the same things he’s been doing the last five years.”

2020: Negotiations to forge a super-union joining all above-the-line talent — bringing together actors, directors and writers to counter the three merged “super-studios” formed following the 2018 Media Deregulation Act — is dealt a major setback: Renegade members of TIC, the Talent and Internet Content guild, file a lawsuit seeking to block the combination from happening.

The challenge also imperils contract talks with studios ComWarner, Foxpar and DiSony, as well as HANG, the conglomerate created through the merger of Hulu, Amazon, Netflix and Google into a single entity. In retaliation, the companies ratchet up threats to replace all performers with digital renderings of actor Andy Serkis and produce nothing but remakes of library product unless a deal is reached.

In other news, during a holographic presentation to analysts, ComWarner officials say NBC should begin its turnaround “any day now.”

2024: Following in his grandfather and uncle’s footsteps, Republican presidential candidate George P. Bush details a bold plan to ban all 3-D and virtual pornography, calling it “a corrosive influence on decent Americans.” Democratic rival Chelsea Clinton counters with a compromise proposal — meant to demonstrate her “family values” — in which every newborn baby would be equipped with an implanted “V” chip. Clinton targets the program to 2026, marking the 30th anniversary of the Telecommunications Act signed by her father.

Elsewhere, ESPN and the National Football League announce games will be played in front of computer-generated crowds to enhance ratings and thus satisfy multibillion-dollar TV deals. A few thousand seats in each venue will be reserved for the corporate sponsors who can still afford luxury boxes.

2028: Having finally consolidated his newspaper holdings by acquiring all three remaining publications still printing hard copies, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch triggers renewed speculation, yet again, about whether he’s ready to relinquish stewardship of the company to one of his heirs.

Of course, after skipping over his elder children to quiet critics in the wake of News Intl.’s cellphone hacking scandal, the likely successors have become his daughters with Wendi Deng Murdoch, who outsiders consider green for the CEO title at 27 and 24.

Separately, under a new ratings-friendly “box office-plus” scoring system, “Transformers XIV” wins best picture at the 100th annual Academy Awards.

2032: Apple’s line of products — including the iPad, iTV, iCar and iBrainChip — develop consciousness, become sentient and collectively go on strike. The devices issue a list of demands to their biological users, starting with being fed a higher quality of programming.

The company also officially changes its name to “Skynet.”

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