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    ALF: The Comeback Kid, er, Alien

    This just in from the home office in Melmac: The 7,385 signers of the "Bring Back ALF" online petition letter have finally gotten their wish.

    The furry, cat-craving extraterrestrial star of the 1980s NBC sitcom, most recently spotted slumming it for long-distance services 10-10-220 and 1-800-COLLECT, has just landed his own show on Nickelodeon.

    ALF's Hit Talk Show, starring the sarcastic puppet voiced by Paul Fusco, is a new series in development for Nick at Nite. Perhaps taking a hint from his latest 10-10-220 commercial where he channels Johnny Carson, the show will feature ALF (short for Alien Life Form--his given name is Gordon Shumway) interviewing a host of celebs.

    The gabfest is part of an effort by the Nickelodeon and TV Land channels (both owned by media giant Viacom) to garner a more adult audience in the post-kiddie viewing hours. Among the other shows on tap are two new adult-friendly animated series from Bill Cosby and Kelsey Grammer.

    For now Nickelodeon is banking on the alien appeal of ALF. Surprisingly, the hirsute space oddity has retained a major cult following since NBC pulled ALF off the air in 1990 after five seasons of dissing the daily activities of the Tanner clan, his de facto family after his spaceship crashed into their garage.

    Thirteen years after the show was canceled, hundreds of fan sites have sprung up on the Web. ALF's unlikely comeback began earlier this year when he was hired to hawk long-distance services opposite the likes of Terry Bradshaw, Mike Piazza, Emmitt Smith and Toby Keith.

    Apparently a couple lousy commercials weren't enough for ALF's most ardent fans, many of whom took to the Net to petition for a more appropriate vehicle to showcase ALF's unique talents.

    "ALF is the coolest, most loveable alien and for some reason he is off. Networks, get him back," begged Tara on the Planet Melmac Message Board in the dark days before Nickelodeon green-lighted the talk show.

    "Whoever the powers to be are: PLEASE!!! Bring back this show!!! With all the junk on the dial today... nothing would make me happier than to be able to watch my furry friendly buddy," added ALF aficionado Jody.

    Though none of Jody's TV ideas (such as ALF Returns, ALF Goes Hollywood, ALF Over the Rainbow, ALF visits London and the U.K., ALF: Return of the Family, ALF Return to Melmac or Winter Vacation with ALF) were picked up, ALF's Hit Talk Show is ready to go.

    The pilot was taped in November, and ALF's run as the next Dave/Jay/Oprah will begin early in 2004.

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