Oscar-winning actress Jodie Foster will lend her voice to an upcoming episode of the Fox sci-fi hit “The X-Files” during the February sweeps, Fox said Monday.
The use of Foster’s voice is one of several sweeps programming stunts the network has in the works. Although Fox Entertainment Group president Peter Roth took the job in September, this is the first sweeps that has been completely under his oversight, as much of the November sweeps plans were already in place when he arrived. The network will also look to expand the scope of its new drama “Millennium,” and will air the premiere of “King of the Hill” again.
Foster will be the voice of a deadly tattoo that tells a man to commit murder. The episode will air on Sunday, Feb. 2. “The X-Files” won best drama, as well as best actor and actress for David Duchovny and Gilliam Anderson, at Sunday’s Golden Globe awards. Foster, coincidentally, also stars in the upcoming Warner Bros. science fiction re-lease “Contact.”
Assessing the performance of the network since his arrival last fall, Roth said that keeping Sunday night strong remains a priority for the network. He is “cautiously optimistic” that the solid ratings for the first two episodes of “King of the Hill” means that the network finally has a show compatible with “The Simpsons.” Overall, he stressed the need for the network to be patient with shows and allow them to find an audience.
Fox will also look to expand the plotlines of the Chris (“The X-Files”) Carter-produced freshman drama “Millennium,” which airs on Fridays from 9-10 p.m. Most of the episodes have been self-contained stories about serial killers and mass murderers. While much of that will continue, Roth said the show will look to clue the audi-ence in about how the “Millennium group” operates.
Bullish on ‘Millennium’
“Millennium” opened very strongly, both critically and in the ratings. Since the October premiere, the rat-ings have cooled somewhat, but Roth said the network is “very bullish” about the show.
“It is critically important to remain patient,” Roth said, pointing to the sophomore success of ABC’s “The Drew Carey Show” and NBC’s “Caroline in the City.” Also, “The X-Files” grew from a cult sensation to a hit in the course of three years.
While Fox has specials and movies, many are for Tuesday night, which is the web’s traditional movie night. Be-yond those, the network is trying to stick with original programming.
Guest appearances on the web during the upcoming sweeps include heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield, who will appear on episodes of “Martin,” “Living Single” and “New York Undercover.” An animated Willie Nelson will also appear on an episode of “King of the Hill,” and Kelsey Grammer will again lend his voice to the character of Sideshow Bob on “The Simpsons.” Grammer’s “Frasier” co-star David Hyde Pierce will also lend a voice to that episode.
Fox will also premiere the Arnold Schwarzenegger hit “True Lies” (Feb. 11), as well as the comedy “Cool Run-nings” (Feb. 18). Also in the works are a two-hour episode of “Melrose Place” and a three-part “Married … With Children.”
On the specials front on Sunday, Feb. 2, in the 7-8 p.m. slot, Fox will air “The World’s Scariest Police Chases,” which is designed as counterprogramming to ABC’s hour of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” While “America’s Funniest Home Videos” has moved to the Sunday 8-9 p.m. slot, it returns to the 7 p.m. slot on Feb. 2. On Sunday, Feb. 9, the network will air an updated episode of funny party disasters. The following two Sundays will have spe-cials on animal antics and celebrity outtakes, respectively.
Jabba and Bubba
Other specials include “Star Wars: The Magic and the Mystery,” which will air before President Clinton’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, Feb. 4.
To honor Black History Month, Fox will air the NAACP Image Awards on Feb. 27 and carry black history inter-stitials throughout February.
Fox will also look to give its animated efforts a boost, with a special airing of “The Simpsons” and the repeat of the “King of the Hill” premiere on Friday, Feb. 7, in the 8-9 p.m. slot held by “Sliders.”
Regarding Fox’s regular shows, there will be the usual assortment of plot twists and special episodes on the Monday-night drama “Melrose Place” as well as the Wednesday-night tandem of “Beverly Hills 90210” and “Party of Five.”
Among the veteran shows, Fox is planning a special three-part “Married … With Children” starting Monday, Feb. 10, in which Al and Peg appear headed for divorce. The episode is part of the web’s “Love Week” of Feb. 10-14.
Fox will also air a special one-hour episode of “Martin” on Thursday, Feb. 13, in which the comedian goes on “The Love Boat.” Guest stars will include “Love Boat” cast members Ted Lange and Bernie Kopell. Behind the scenes, the show’s writers are still working on addressing the departure of “Martin” co-star Tisha Campbell, who abruptly left the show and is suing the star for sexual harassment.
Fox will also try out a miniseries for the May sweeps based on the Dean Koontz book “Intensity.”