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IFC EXPLORES NEW SATIRICAL WATERS.

Byline: David Kronke TV Critic

IT WAS only a matter of time before other cable networks began mimicking the no-budget anarchic concepts of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming.

The Independent Film Channel strikes first, with Film Fanatic Fridays, an hour featuring three shows, done on the (very) cheap, parodying sundry aspects of the film industry.

Actor/producer (``Gosford Park'') Bob Balaban serves up ``Hopeless Pictures,'' an (almost) animated series with an inventive design that suggests what might result from Pablo Picasso and Gary Baseman's (``Teacher's Pet'') love child designing ``South Park'' (in fact, Nick Demayo created the characters).

It's standard-issue Hollywood satire, following producer Max Wel (voice of Michael McKean), who has disastrous productions at every level. Tonight's episode traces a series of desperate cell phone calls (including many to a shrink voiced by Jonathan Katz, who played a shrink in his own animated series) and fatuous production meetings discussing obviously, obliviously dumb projects.

An occasional laugh breaks through, but this is the same sort of Hollywood evisceration that fans have knowingly tittered through since the days of ``The Larry Sanders Show'' and ``The Player.''

Next up is ``Greg the Bunny,'' featuring a hand puppet who also starred in his own short-lived Fox sitcom and here reproduces legendary films with other puppet co-stars.

Tonight's offering, ``Bunnie Hall,'' finds Greg, as Woody Allen's stand-in, dumping the girl of his dreams for the lobster they're trying to boil. A future installment, ``The Godpappy,'' finds its wittiest moment when characters quaff Coppola wine. Actor Seth Green, co-creator of Adult Swim's ``Robot Chicken,'' produces.

The least hoary gags can be found in the live-action ``The Festival,'' a mockumentary about indie-film festivals like Sundance, which hypocritically champion art but concern themselves inevitably and irrevocably with big-money sponsors (in this case, a cynical cigarette conglomerate) and star power.

It follows the fortunes of a geek filmmaker, whose pretentiously titled film, ``The Unreasonable Truth of Butterflies,'' builds buzz despite the fact that no one has seen it. Its director pompously intones, ``I have a god-given gift. I don't really believe in God, but I think there's a lot of truth in that statement.''

Essentially, it's the indie version of ``Hopeless Pictures,'' only these jokes haven't been told nearly as many times. As ``The Festival'' is only a six-episode show, it probably should've been just been presented as a one-shot film, yet in this group, its comedic jabs thrust most pointedly. If, that is, Adult Swim's sundry shows hadn't already eviscerated Hollywood hypocrisy beyond the point of recognition.

David Kronke, (818) 713-3638

david.kronke(at)dailynews.com

HOPELESS PICTURES - Two stars

What: Animated series about desperate Hollywood denizens.

Where: Independent Film Channel.

When: 10 tonight.

In a nutshell: Familiar satirical subject, occasional laughs.

GREG THE BUNNY - Two and one half stars

What: Puppets re-create famous movies.

Where: IFC.

When: 10:20 tonight.

In a nutshell: Sometimes silly, sometimes inspired.

THE FESTIVAL - Three stars

What: Parody of the incessant hype surrounding independent film festivals.

Where: IFC.

When: 10:40 tonight.

In a nutshell: Indie hauteur is amusingly skewered.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 19, 2005
Words:509
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