Submitted for Your Disapproval: Rod Serling's Unlikely Role

Patricia Arquette in
Patricia Arquette in "Medium," where a close-up of her eyeball on Monday night will prompt viewers to don 3-D glasses -- all explained at the show's start by a digitally inserted Rod Serling. (By Ron Tom -- Nbc Universal)
By Lisa de Moraes
Saturday, November 19, 2005

NBC's "Medium" is a drama series about a woman who can see and talk to dead people who have been the victims of horrible crimes.

And speaking of horrible crimes against dead people, the producers of "Medium" have digitally inserted the genuinely dead Rod Serling into Monday's episode, which will feature 3-D segments.

The TV great, best known for creating, writing and hosting the science-fiction series "The Twilight Zone," will "introduce" Monday's broadcast and tell viewers how they will know when to put on their special paper glasses to view the 3-D segments.

(FYI, the cue will be an enhanced image of show star Patricia Arquette's eyeball.)

The producers acquired rights to Serling footage from "The Twilight Zone" and have digitally manipulated the image to make Serling say lines he never said, using a voice artist named Mark Silverman, who, NBC assures us in a news release about this nightmare, is the only voice artist recognized by the Serling estate, whatever the heck that means.

NBC has partnered with TV Guide to distribute 3-D glasses for the episode. As part of that deal, TV Guide will feature a "Medium" cover. No word on whether Dead Serling will also be plugging TV Guide during Monday's broadcast.

Show creator Glenn Gordon Caron got on the phone with The Reporters Who Cover Television this week to defend turning Serling into a pitchman for a November ratings sweeps stunt. Actually, TRWCT weren't concerned about the travesty -- wonder what they thought of that 1997 Super Bowl ad in which the legendary Fred Astaire got to dance with a Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner, compliments of his widow.

One clever reporter on the call wondered what Serling is like to work with nowadays:

"He's a bit stiff," Caron joked.

Then, realizing that maybe one of these members of the press might actually report that response and a member of Serling's "estate" might actually read it, he did an about-face and went all Hallmark Moment on them:

"The truth is, we're beholden to the Serling estate and to Carol Serling, his wife, who gave us permission. Frankly, it's very flattering to be allowed to do this, to use his image and to take advantage of the extraordinary legacy that he has," Caron gushed.

After Monday, that "extraordinary legacy" will include a 45-second bit at the start of "Medium," telling viewers to put on their 3-D glasses whenever Arquette's eyeball pops up.

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