Have aliens abducted Gumbel's career?

Friday, October 24, 2003

Bryant Gumbel lends his tattered reputation as a real journalist to the cheesy tabloid documentary "The New Roswell: Kecksburg Exposed" (8 p.m., Sci Fi).

What the heck is Kecksburg? It's a town in rural Pennsylvania where, some folks say, a UFO that looked like a giant acorn came flaming out of the sky and landed in the woods. Other residents contend that stories about the alleged 1965 UFO event are hogwash, and some think their neighbors will say just about anything to get their faces on television. Just ask Bryant Gumbel!

"Formulas" sends up those prime-time conventions that viewers love to laugh at, including the "very special episodes" that occur around sweeps, the emergence of a major character's "evil twin," the good-looking characters that everyone lusts after but nobody touches, and the characters who seem gay but claim to be straight.

Clips of "gay/not gay" characters include Gomer on "Gomer Pyle," Velma from "Scooby-Doo," Jo on "Facts of Life" and Anthony on "Designing Women." The "very special episode" segment includes scenes from the "Family Ties" episode where Alex (Michael J. Fox) becomes addicted to diet pills.

Tonight's other highlights

Late night

Lisa Kudrow and R.E.M. appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Katie Couric, Al Franken and Cirque de Soleil on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

Allison Janney, Ron Livingston and Hot Hot Heat chat on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Robert Duvall, Kim Cattrall and Seal appear on "The Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn" (11:37 p.m., CBS).