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Give Chris Carter a straight line and he'll turn into Jerry Seinfeld. During a session in Hollywood with the creator of "The X-Files," a critic wondered if it would be possible to try to link the mythology of the Fox series to President Clinton's current political situation by using fictitious leaders of the country.

"I could never do anything this twisted," cracked Carter.

John Masius, the creator of NBC's "Providence," got some assistance from series star Mike Farrell in the humor department.

Asked about a scene in the pilot of "Providence" in which a male agent was caught by his girlfriend, Sydney Hanson (Melina Kanakaredes), in the shower with a male client, Masius said, "For us that work in this business, that was based on an amalgam of . . . "

Then Farrell completed the sentence: "Everyone we know."

Those were among the good lines spoken during the recent television critics tour. Here are some more.

"Oh, yeah, I think that's a really good idea. I think the Bart Simpson 'I'm a little angel' T-shirts are going to sell like hotcakes." -- "Simpsons" creator Matt Groening, when asked if we are going to see any change in Bart's behavior in future episodes.

" 'The Simpsons' is still on in the year 3000. But the fans on the Internet are complaining that the last 500 years aren't as good as the first 500 years." -- Groening on whether his Fox hit will be around in 3000, the setting for his upcoming Fox animated series "Futurama."

I never heard the term linked to me before with 'mean-spirited.' I've heard 'smart-ass,' 'smug,' 'pasty.' " -- Craig Kilborn, future host of CBS' "Late, Late Show" after Tom Snyder retires.

"I actually got to work with someone who has not only been an idol of mine but whom I've blatantly ripped off for the last four years." -- John Lithgow of "3rd Rock From the Sun," describing how he felt when British comedian John Cleese guest-starred on the series.

"Our producers were being particularly funny and she said: 'Oh, the young Jewish boys. I do love them. I married three of them.' " -- Eric McCormack of "Will & Grace" describing a backstage scene with his TV mom, Debbie Reynolds.

"Some crazy people are coming into my office and I'm going to be mad at them." -- Dave Foley, star of "NewsRadio," when asked about future episodes, which he made sound like most past episodes.

"You know, I think if Jennifer (Grey) were found face down in a pool of her own vomit on Hollywood Boulevard it would really help the show." -- Peter Mehlman, creator of ABC's "It's Like, You Know . . . " and friend of Jennifer Grey, when asked how Grey's higher profile could help the series.

"Who do you think?" -- Nancy Tellem, new president of CBS Entertainment, when asked if powerful CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves or she would be calling the shots about big decisions.

"Once again, 'Howard Stern' is a syndicated show. Stern is like 'Hollywood Squares,' OK. (Pause.) Well, not exactly like 'Hollywood Squares.' " -- Moonves, when asked about the content of "The Howard Stern Radio Show."

"We were going to do, 'World's Scariest Grandmothers,' but we didn't think it would work." -- Moonves on whether CBS would join Fox and NBC by carrying tasteless reality shows that pander to the TV audience.

"It's sort of like Rob and Laura Petrie (of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show') on meth." -- John Larroquette, describing his upcoming CBS sitcom, "Payne," which is an adaptation of Cleese's "Fawlty Towers."

"Well, see, now you're talking to a Reform Jew, so I apologize to those offended Catholics." -- Masius, when told by a Catholic critic that his series, "Providence," made a religious mistake by mentioning the Holy Ghost, which has been eliminated from the prayer book.

"We've shot two versions -- the funny one and then the one that they wanted us to shoot." -- David Zuckerman, executive producer of Fox's "Family Guy," when asked if Fox's censors have requested script changes.

"I think we could use a few more words in between 'Hello' and 'Would you sleep with me?' " -- Scott Sassa, NBC Entertainment president, when asked to describe his plan to reduce sexual situations and dialogue on the network.

"Well, I'm glad you're considering this a real firm." -- David E. Kelley, creator of "The Practice," after a critic suggested that the outspoken young secretary in the series' firm probably would be fired for her odd behavior.

"Dylan gets a lot of lingerie. He's forever trying it on." -- Lara Flynn Boyle, describing the gifts "Practice" co-star Dylan McDermott gets in the mail from adoring fans.

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