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  • From Fort Worth Star-Telegram, July 29, 1999

    Is David Duchovny leaving `X-Files'?
    The truth is out there
    by Ken Parish Perkins

    PASADENA, Calif. -- Asked whether he'll return for an eighth season of "The X-Files,'' David Duchovny doesn't immediately answer. Instead, he slowly pours water in a cup and takes a sip as though he's the only one in the room. "I really can't answer that," he finally replies.

    "I wouldn't say `never' about anything. But as of right now, my contract is up at the end of this coming year. So I'm living life as if this would be the last year."

    Duchovny isn't being coy. He's politely serving notice that this interview will be conducted on his terms, and he's off to an awfully good start. In the years he has played Agent Mulder on the critically acclaimed Fox drama, he has always had something of a take-it-or-leave-it attitude, and nothing has changed much.

    We're meeting under impromptu circumstances. Fox is trying to redirect the circulating rumors that the final season of the Fox drama is near, that the series will live on only on the big screen.

    Just hours earlier, the rumor mill had started churning at the annual summer TV critics' meeting, when "The X-Files" creator Chris Carter, promoting his supernatural drama "Harsh Realm," had given a similar notice.

    "I've heard second- and third-hand that Fox might approach us about taking the show past the seventh season," Carter told journalists. "Right now, as I'm plotting the series, I'm looking at these next 22 episodes as a wrap-up."

    So here's Duchovny being asked to place the remaining puzzle piece, and this is what we get. And forget reading between the lines. Duchovny displays no obvious nervous tics or showy emotions, except amusement, which is usually preceded by a biting sarcasm that's often mistaken for celeb ego-tripping.

    That's the wonder of Duchovny. Loaded questions make him smile, and lighter questions make him serious. He doesn't adjust his seat when discussing what you'd consider uncomfortable subjects, because to Duchovny, there are no such things.

    Asked if he believes in the supernatural, he answers "Yes. No." Asked whether his perspective has changed by doing "The X-Files," he answers, "Completely and not one bit."

    Then he smiles and says, "Next question?"

    Some might say that the fame he has gained as Mulder has taught him well. Others figure he has enough money in the bank and stature in the business to feel secure. Maybe both, maybe one, maybe none.

    But Duchovny knows more than he's telling concerning the future of the series. On the one hand, he feels possessive of Mulder, sounding upbeat and giddy when discussing the possibilities of more big-screen stories. Yet the next minute, he's trying to convince us that another actor could end up partnering with Scully (Gillian Anderson) if there's an eighth season.

    Anderson's contract expires a year after his, so it's possible that "The X-Files" could go on without him.

    "I'm no longer indispensable," Duchovny acknowledges. "Nobody is."

    "The X-Files" has its own life, its own brand identity. "It's like Crest," he says. "It's Menudo. Look at `NYPD Blue.' I'd be an idiot to sit here and say, `Oh, my God, you know it's not going to go on without me.'

    "Of course it could, if the stories were good. If the writers were good. If the directors were good. I'm sure they'd hire a good actor."

    But.

    "But there's a part of me that would be sitting at home wishing fervently that it would fail. I want to take care of this character to make sure he's not misrepresented. I want to do right by the character that I've lived with and helped create for the last six years."

    As for Carter, he's obviously ready to move on, venturing out first with the canceled "Millennium" and now with "Harsh Realm."

    The pilot for "Harsh Realm," which stars Scott Bairstow as a military man who finds himself stuck in a virtual-reality world, may not be the smash-hit follow-up Carter wants. It's dark, moody and confusing. But many didn't seem to get "The X-Files," either.

    "It was fun and it was exciting and it was well-written and it was well-acted and it was well-directed," Duchovny says of "The X-Files."

    Duchovny is talking in past tense. Should we read something into that?

    (Ken Parish Perkins is TV critic for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. You can call him at (817) 390-7862, or e-mail: kperkins@star-telegram.com. Visit the Star-Telegram's online services on the World Wide Web: www.star-telegram.com) nn


    Perkins, Ken. July 29, 1999. "Is David Duchovny leaving `X-Files'? The truth is out there." Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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