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NBC's 'Heroes' Evokes Rushdie's 'Children'

Some have already noted the undeniable similarities between
NBC's new drama Heroes and
Marvel Comics' X-Men franchise. But much about the show—in which
seven strangers discover they have superpowers—bears an uncanny resemblance
to another literary source: Salman Rushdie's
1981 novel Midnight's
Children
.

For those of you who skipped English class that week, Rushdie's
novel recounts the history of the modern state of India through the fanciful
tale of 1,001 children who were born at the stroke of midnight on Independence
Day—“every one of whom was, through some freak of biology, or perhaps owing
to some preternatural power of the moment … endowed with features, talents or
faculties which can only be described as miraculous … powers of
transmutation, flight, prophecy and wizardry.”

If you know the book and happened to catch the Heroes premiere last Monday, the Japanese man on the
show who can bend time may have reminded you of the book's character with
“the gift of traveling in time.” Or the series' young woman who has a
dark relationship with mirrors may have brought to mind the book's character
who can step into and emerge from “any reflective surface in the land.”

What's more, the young Indian geneticist on the show, who sets out
to find and nurture the budding heroes, shares the name “Suresh” with the
doctor in Midnight's Children who delivers
the book's narrator into the world.

Alas, any Rushdie references are coincidental. Heroes creator Tim
Kring
pled “complete ignorance” when Flash! asked him about it,
lamenting that one of the “tragedies ” of being a TV writer is having
little time to be “a leisure reader by any stretch of the imagination.”

But really, who needs books when you've got TV?

A Shorter List

Discovery Communications is casting a
wide net in its hunt for a replacement for CEO Judith
McHale
. While there's a short list of insiders—including
Discovery Networks U.S. President Billy
Campbell
and Senior Executive VP of Operations Mark Hollinger—headhunters from Spencer Stuart are working through a long list of media
executives outside the company.

Among those contacted in recent weeks are Fox
Networks Group
President/CEO Tony
Viniquerra
; ex-Nickelodeon Networks
Chairman Herb Scannel; ex-MTV Networks President and current Interpublic Media President Mark
Rosenthal
; and former Court TV
President Henry Schleiff (who's likely
headed to the Hallmark Channel, see page 3). None have bitten.

But many Discovery insiders will be surprised by one flat-out
“No”—Landmark Communications
President/CEO Decker Anstrom. Even senior
company executives have assumed that Anstrom was the top candidate because of
the relationship he forged with Discovery's owners—Liberty Media, Cox
Communications
and Advance
Newhouse
—during his years as president of the
National Cable & Telecommunications
Association
.

But Anstrom wants that speculation to end: “I like my job. I am not
a candidate, not interested.”

For other candidates, the lure of riches if Discovery goes public, as
expected, may be offset by the deal-breaking stipulation that the CEO live near
Discovery's Silver Spring, Md., headquarters.

Says an industry executive familiar with the search, “They don't
want a CEO commuting to their family in L.A.”

'Freak' Out

If you glance at the New York
Post
Oct. 3, you might think that Manhattan is being
invaded by freaks with bizarre superpowers who are on the Pentagon payroll.

Fear not. Comedy Central is putting
fake covers on the Post and
Daily News
as part of a marketing blitz for its new series Freak Show. The
animated show, debuting Oct. 4, features oddballs such as Tuck and Benny,
conjoined twins with the power to separate, and Primi, a premature baby who can
projectile vomit with stunning accuracy.

“We're aiming for the trendsetters and influencers,” says Comedy
Director of Marketing and Advertising Neil
Marks
. Comedy will also distribute more than a million copies of a
comic book written by Freak creators
David Cross (Arrested Development) and
H. Jon Benjamin.

Comedy is also toasting the 10th season of South Park, which
premieres before Freak, with a
MySpace page where users can design their own
cut-out character, and banners on Madison Square
Garden
.

Marks didn't say whether banners will adorn Church of Scientology
headquarters, too.

With Garth Johnston, John M. Higgins and Anne
Becker

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