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‘Pretender’ will not leave fans hanging

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PASADENA, Calif. — Fans of the NBC drama "The Pretender," who were left hanging when the show was dropped at the end of last season, will get to see how that cliffhanger was resolved. But they'll have to have cable to see it.

NBC was actually interested in doing a one-time, two-hour TV movie that would wrap things up. But the producers got a better offer from Turner, which apparently will air "Pretender" movies on TNT or TBS. And, yes, that's plural — "Pretender" movies.

"The choice was made (by Twentieth Century Fox TV) to go with the cable network doing an ongoing series of 'Pretender' movies vs. us doing one 'Pretender' wrap-up movie on the network," said NBC Entertainment President Garth Ancier. "But we didn't feel passionate enough to make four 'Pretender' movies.

"We felt like we would like to wrap it up for the fans, but we didn't want to mortgage our future that way."

IS IT OVER OR NOT? On the other hand, the fate of "La Femme Nikita" remains in doubt. Sort of.

Cable's USA Network has announced that this will be the final season for the series, which took the show's cast and producers by surprise. Star Peta Wilson seems more than a bit taken aback by the whole situation, even refusing to talk about it — at least the first time she was asked.

"It's done," she said at one point, later saying, "We don't know what's going to happen next."

She did confirm reports that she's in talks with Warner Bros., which produced "La Femme Nikita," about starring in another series.

"I have a good relationship with Warner Bros., and we are in talks about doing a new show," Wilson said. "But they haven't destroyed the sets on 'La Femme Nikita' yet, so I really don't know."

But whether the sets are still standing because USA and Warner Bros. are trying to work out their differences and revive the series or if it's something other than that remains to be seen.

"There's talk of me doing a 'La Femme Nikita' movie, but I really don't know," Wilson said.

She seemed more than a bit put out at what she said was "a purely political thing between between the network and the studio. It really had nothing to do with us — the cast — or the fans. I think that happens sometimes. I don't know. It just happened two weeks ago, so I don't really have an answer for you."

CHANGING OF THE GUARD: For the umpteenth time, "Law & Order" will be making a cast change this coming season. But this one is sort of special.

Coming in is Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actress Dianne Wiest, who'll play the new district attorney. Which is great news — she's a fabulous actress.

Leaving the cast is Steven Hill, who has done more episodes of "Law & Order" than any other actor. He's as close as they come to an original cast member — he did not appear in the pilot episode, but he has played District Attorney Adam Schiff since episode No. 2 way back in 1990.

Creator/executive producer Dick Wolf and his team have clearly demonstrated over the years that cast changes don't hurt "Law & Order" — arguably, they've helped the show by giving it room to adapt and change.

And it doesn't hurt that "Law & Order" has always been story-driven as opposed to character-driven, meaning the new actors and the characters they play can just slip into place.

HOW ANNOYING: Judd Apatow certainly didn't have a very good experience at NBC last season. The show he executive produced, "Freaks and Geeks" was bounced around and off the network's schedule seemingly on a whim.

But it's not like he's going to say anything negative about the folks who made those decisions. And he's not burning any bridges.

"I'll tell you. If you refuse to work for anyone who is annoying in this business, you certainly won't work," Apatow said.


E-MAIL: pierce@desnews.com