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Fox may pick up ‘Critic’

“The Critic” could be using its thumbs to hitchhike from ABC over to Fox Broadcasting Co.

Sources say those behind the animated series, James L. Brooks’ Gracie Films and Columbia Pictures TV, are in talks with Fox about the prospect of bringing the series to the weblet, where it would seem to be a logical companion to “The Simpsons”– another Gracie property, produced under a preexisting deal with Twentieth TV.

ABC aired six installments of “The Critic” and has another seven in the can.

However, the network is said to have made clear that it has no plans to order additional episodes, and insiders say the web would part with the seven finished half-hours for the right price if Columbia makes a deal with another outlet.

It’s unclear how advanced negotiations might be. Fox, Columbia and Gracie all declined comment.

Created by Mike Reiss and Al Jean, who spent several seasons as producers on “The Simpsons,””The Critic” has attracted only so-so to poor ratings, though its demographic skew was clearly toward the teens and young males that comprise a large part of the “Simpsons” audience. The series averaged a 10.5 rating, 15 share, which would put it among the three highest-rated shows on Fox this season (along with “The Simpsons,””Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Married … With Children”) in terms of households.

In addition, the show’s racy humor made ABC uncomfortable about airing certain episodes in the 8 o’clock hour (no later time period was available), while Fox’s standards tend to be less stringent in that regard.

Fox has struggled this season in retaining its “Simpsons” lead-in with “The Sinbad Show.” The weblet fared better last year with the teen-oriented hit “Martin” Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.

“Matlock,””In the Heat of the Night,””Getting By” and “The Golden Girls” (reshaped into “Golden Palace”) are all series that have jumped from one web to another in recent seasons.

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