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‘Limits’ may go on

Showtime touts finale while Sci Fi pursues new segs

Showtime is ballyhooing “The Outer Limits: The Final Countdown Marathon,” to air Sept. 3, touting what it calls “the series finale” — the “appropriately titled ‘Final Appeal.’ “

The only problem with Showtime’s marketing stunt is that negotiations are now taking place to keep “The Outer Limits” in production for another year.

Showtime may be out of the picture, but the Sci Fi Channel, which bought the repeats of “Outer Limits” last year and runs the episodes in a 7-11 p.m. block every Monday, has opened talks with MGM TV Entertainment for another season of 22 episodes.

A Sci Fi spokeswoman confirmed the report of discussions with MGM. Another source says Sci Fi would in effect replace Showtime in MGM’s distribution window, getting the premiere of each episode for an exclusive six-month term, after which the hour would go into TV syndication. An MGM spokeswoman declined to comment, and sources at Alliance Atlantis and Trilogy Entertainment, the two production companies behind “The Outer Limits,” were unavailable for comment.

Firstrun strategy

Sci Fi has begun pulling sizable audiences for its original series “Farscape,” “The Invisible Man” and “Lexx,” all on Friday night. The network’s goal is to create a second night of firstrun programming, and “Outer Limits” originals could serve as the linchpin of that strategy.

Meanwhile, Showtime’s Sept. 3 marathon will consist of eight previously aired episodes in sequence from 2-8 p.m. At 8, the network has scheduled the premiere of the special two-hour episode “Final Appeal,” focusing on “a time traveler who is sentenced to death for violating laws against technology.”

It stars Charlton Heston, Amanda Plummer, Cicely Tyson, Swoosie Kurtz, Kelly McGillis, Robert Loggia, Wallace Langham, Michael Moriarty and Hal Holbrook. Executive producers are Mark Stern, Pen Densham, Richard Barton Lewis and John Watson. Sam Egan is the writer and Jimmy Kaufman the director.

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