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WE COULD BE WRONG BUT... OUR INTREPID REPORTERS LOOK AHEAD TO SEE WHAT THE CARDS TELL US ABOUT THE FUTURE OF ENTERTAINMENT (BUT ARE THEY PLAYING WITH A FULL DECK?).

Byline: David Kronke Television Writer

Predicting the future is a fool's game, so here's my clairvoyant look at TV2K and beyond. Actually, all you have to do is watch the worst of what's happening now and exaggerate a smidgen and you, too, can create: The Top-10 TV trends of the next century/decade/month.

10. Biggest surprise sensation of 2002: The Surveillance Camera Network, which at random shows whatever's on security cameras from around the country. Viewership soars when an actual robbery is captured live on the network, inspiring a spate of copycat crimes after a list of the cameras used by the network is leaked on the Internet. Then the motto ``Initiative Equals Stardom'' is transformed into the less ambiguous ``No Guns, No Glory,'' while participating businesses start hanging ``Rob Us Next!'' signs outside their doors and Kevlar vests skyrocket in popularity.

9. ``The Internet Movie Critics' Year-End Vote'' becomes the most popular annual TV special when everyone tunes in to watch the geeky, pretentious cineastes of Salon and Slate fiercely battle the geeky, unhygienic sci-fi fans of Ain't-It-Cool-News and Asphyxia Movie Guide in skirmishes featuring lots of open-hand slapping and desperate squeals for Scotty to beam various people up. Eventually, George Lucas' ``Star Wars Episode 3: The Blandly Titled Cash Cow'' edges out Eric Rohmer's ``Yet More Civilized French People Yammering and Tittering About Relationships and the Weather'' for best picture of 2003.

8. In 2007, the Food Channel creates an arcane specialty channel, Bit o' Twit, aimed at short, stupid Anglophiles. A little-known series of Jane Austen adaptations featuring Planet Hollywood investors is a programming highlight. Two years later, Bit o' Twit's viewership numbers in the teens.

7. Television shows attempt to become more like interactive DVDs in 2001 when individual episodes of series feature the directors and stars discussing making the episodes in the left channel of the stereo feed. Bonus features for those with picture-in-picture capabilities include the ad for the episode in TV Guide and authentic photos from the table read. That the idea is an utter failure is attributed to the fact that series trying this experiment include ``The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer: The Early Years,'' ``The D.R.E.A.M. Team,'' ``The Making of `The Making of the Electronic Press Kit' '' for ``Bicentennial Man'' and ``Veronica's Closet.'' But the truth of the matter is that only about 18 people in the whole country actually cared about that junk in the first place.

6. Fox figures out a way to turn day-trading into a game show in March 2000: ``No More Options,'' featuring as host Wink Martindale, accompanied by Wrigley's Gum's newly christened ``Double-Click Twins.'' Game shows hit Wall Street and the Internet simultaneously when someone makes a fortune simply by bringing the word Millionaire.com to an initial public offering on the stock market, but is quickly trumped when Microsoft offers Billionaire.com a week later. Neither offers a company prospectus or even a vague idea of what the business is about - they're literally selling just the name. With the inevitable crash of the stock market in January 2001 due to the simultaneous collapse of all Internet stocks, the proliferation of game shows comes full circle with the success of ``Who Wants to Beat Up a Millionaire?''

5. Spearheaded by MTV's 2008 phenomenon, ``The Unreal World,'' hack syndicated-TV producers hit upon the idea of hiring actors to humiliate themselves in fictionalized scenarios created by writers, only to be informed that there are small pockets of network television programming that have been doing that all along.

4. In 2005, the Golf Channel spins off an even more obscure specialty network: WindyPins, dedicated, as the motto puts it, to ``guys who like bowling and/or Newfoundland.'' E. Annie Proulx is hired to provide color commentary to games of New England Ninepins; not understanding the game, she just reads from her Pulitzer-winning Newfy epic, ``The Shipping News.'' After 18 months, the network's viewership reaches nearly a dozen.

3. A PC mouse is issued as part of standard equipment for televisions in 2004, even though the mouse doesn't really do anything; it's just because people have gotten accustomed to gripping one whenever they sit before a screen. That the mouses don't do anything is, in fact, reassuring to most viewers, since thanks to the True Millennial Internet Glut of 2001 - in which the entire Internet was discovered to be a giant, ingenious and virulent virus - the mouses attached to PCs don't do much, either. The gambit is such a success that the following year, mouses replace remotes altogether.

2. The No. 1-rated television show of 2010: The ``Friends'' episode ``The One Where Phoebe Reaches Menopause.''

1. Oxygen, Oprah Winfrey's cable venture, unveils, in 2003, The Coupon-Clipping Channel, or, as it's pointlessly nicknamed, C-Cubed, featuring up-to-the-minute reports of what coupons are available in what publications, as well as footage of people clipping coupons and discussing the bargains they've gotten using them. Three years later, the venture reports its first viewer.
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 31, 1999
Words:835
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