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SERENDIPITY? OR WAS IT MORE?

Channel 7 and its "Eyewitness News" seem to be waiting around every corner of "Bruce Almighty," thanks to Jim Carrey's crash course in Buffalo TV as a young Canadian. Carrey's grounding in the station at the height of the Irv Weinstein/Don Polec/Promo the Robot era of his Toronto youth is obvious.

Director Tom Shadyac insists some of this is only "serendipity." Whatever it is, the degree of Channel 7-ness in "Bruce Almighty" is uncanny.

Items:

The name of the funny guy/feature reporter a la Don Polec and Mike Randall that Carrey plays in the film is Bruce Nolan, a syllabic match.

The name of the venerated Channel 7 anchor about to retire after a long career isn't Irv Weinstein, it's Steve Fineman, another syllabic -- and probably ethnic -- match.

Fictional anchor Fineman has a beautiful female co-anchor named Susan.

The name of the orthodox journalist who is the management's candidate for Steve Fineman's job isn't Keith Radford, it's Evan Baxter, which sounds like the name of the fellow who stood next to Radford in his high school class picture.

When Bruce goes to work at Channel 7 in the film, it isn't the bright, ultra-sleek, ultra-modern station located at One Broadcast Plaza. It's a red brick building with white trim. The old Channel 7 building on Main Street was a red brick building with white trim. "Serendipity," says director Shadyac.

In one scene, Carrey, as feature funnyman Bruce Nolan, reports on something called the "Annual Mark Twain Chili Cook-off" while wearing conspicuous Mark Twain wig and makeup. Former Channel 7 funny feature guy -- and current meteorologist -- Mike Randall has been a one-man Twain show around town for most of his adult life. More "serendipity," Shadyac says. Carrey, he says, just came to the set that morning in Mark Twain get-up.

When "Bruce Almighty" was shown to print and TV press a couple of weekends ago in Los Angeles, the screenings were held in the Arclight Theaters on Sunset Boulevard. Next door is the gigantic and extraordinary Amoeba Record store, one of the cultural landmarks in Los Angeles, a place where one is liable to spot Kirsten Dunst shopping or Nicolas Cage buying 50 CDs at a time. Amoeba's co-founder and co-owner is Mark Weinstein, son of Irv Weinstein.

-- Jeff Simon