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Milchan banking on ‘Malcolm’

Sitcom Emmy nom snatched, could be a good thing

HOLLYWOOD — In an unusual move, one of the Emmy noms for Fox sitcom “Malcolm in the Middle” was withdrawn by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences last month, but Arnon Milchan, whose Regency Enterprises co-produces the series with Fox TV Studios, thinks it may have been a good omen.

“Malcolm” now has eight noms, not nine, because it was mistakenly put up for best sound mixing in the multi- rather than the single-camera category.

But Milchan cites what happened when his film “L.A. Confidential” had nine Oscar noms but ended up losing best picture to “Titanic.”

‘Eight is enough’

“Nine is maybe a jinx,” he told Daily Variety Tuesday. “I think eight is enough.”

“Malcolm,” a half-hour comedy about a family as dysfunctional as “The Simpsons” (which is the only Fox comedy that premiered with ratings higher than “Malcolm’s”), is what Milchan calls a break-the-mold kind of project.

Coming from the producer who greenlit pics such as “Brazil,” “Natural Born Killers,” “Falling Down” and “War of the Roses,” that says a lot.

With eight Emmy noms, a Peabody Award and kudos from just about every critics org, the skein lives up to Milchan’s standards of “harmony and excellence” which, he says, “can exist in any medium.”

Milchan believes both “Malcolm” and “L.A. Confidential,” which won two Oscars — supporting actress for Kim Basinger and original screenplay for Brian Helgeland — were considered long shots.

“Nobody thought that film could fly,” Milchan recalled. “Then the critics got behind it, it went to Cannes and ended up winning nine Oscar nominations.”

When Milchan first read Linwood Boomer’s “Malcolm” pilot, he was attracted to “the wacky black humor and the special glue” that keeps the family members close. He especially liked the character of Lois, Malcolm’s mother, played by Emmy-nominated thesp Jane Kaczmarek.

Next in the development pipeline: “Malcolm in the Middle: The Movie,” with Boomer writing the script (Daily Variety, Dec. 11).

Milchan’s Regency Prods. has nine films in the can, with Michael Douglas starrer “Don’t Say a Word” unspooling Sept. 28.

Jewels in the crown

Regency Enterprises owns a controlling interest in German athletic gear giant Puma; the worldwide TV rights to the Women’s Tennis Assn. tour and foreign rights to the US Open Tennis Tournament; and Restless Records, a label distributed by BMG.

Major shareholders in Regency include Australian media baron Kerry Packer, Germany’s Leo Kirch and Rupert Murdoch.

Clearly someone who loves doing business on a grand and global level, Milchan said he would even consider buying a studio again, having lost out to Kirk Kerkorian in a bid for MGM. But only if it “helped make the playing field larger and enhanced the synergy between my film, TV, sports and music business interests,” he said.

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