Television: Julia's New Domain

Kramer fell flat on his face. And George bombed out too. So can Seinfeld's Elaine break the curse with her upcoming sitcom?

Television, being an expensive mass-market medium, is inherently conservative. And as in any conservative business, executives try to copy past successes. That's why you got so many sitcoms about aimless twenty-somethings who drink suspicious amounts of coffee. But something weird happens when the distinguishing characteristic of the successes--currently HBO's lineup of The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Six Feet Under and Curb Your Enthusiasm--is that they break the mold. What you get is a lot of shows copying not-copying: The Bernie Mac Show, 24, Malcolm in the Middle, Undeclared. You get Innovative TV.

There aren't many times when network execs are...

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