Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Rumors are running rampant that ABC is maneuvering to pick up not one but two sitcoms cast off by other networks.

NBC canceled "Scrubs" last week. ABC is expected to pick up the show for an 18-episode final season, if it hasn't done so already.

This was supposed to be the final season for the show, with 18 episodes scheduled to air on NBC. But the writers' strike got in the way of those plans. Only 12 episodes were produced; five remain to be aired on NBC (beginning on Thursday); and no final episode was filmed.

NBC announced last week it would not order more episodes. Meanwhile, the show went back into production — so where do you think those episodes will end up?

ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson is a fan of the show, which is produced by ABC Studios. And McPherson was the head of ABC Studios (then called Touchstone) back when "Scrubs" was developed.

Thus, there have been reports for years that ABC would step in if NBC axed "Scrubs."

Another widespread Hollywood rumor is that ABC is positioning itself to pick up "The New Adventures of Old Christine" should CBS drop the show. The Julia Louis-Dreyfus sitcom is "on the bubble" at CBS in terms of renewal, and ABC is poised to jump in if the show becomes available.

Given ABC's horrendous comedy track record in recent seasons, this isn't necessarily surprising. Hey, the network keeps renewing the dreadful "According to Jim."

Looking back over the past five years, ABC has a nearly unbroken string of failure after failure when it comes to half-hour comedies: "Cavemen," "Carpoolers," "Knights of Prosperity," "Help Me Help You," "Big Day," "Sons & Daughters," "Crumbs," "Freddie," "Hot Properties," "Notes From the Underbelly," "Emily's Reasons Why Not," "Rodney," "Savages," "Married to the Kellys," "Jake in Progress," "The Big House" and "Lost at Home."

Hey, I reviewed every one of those shows and I couldn't remember what all of them were. Not all of them were bad — some, like "Miss Guided," which ended last week, were good shows mishandled by the network — but none succeeded.

"Samantha Who?" looks like a success, although the jury is still out on that one. But the most successful sitcom ABC introduced in the past five years was "Hope & Faith," which limped through three seasons before getting the ax.

Is it any wonder ABC is looking to other networks for half-hour comedies?

There is another explanation for the rumors about "Old Christine" jumping from CBS to ABC. It's entirely possible that the rumors are being fueled by the folks at Warner Bros. (which produces the show) to try to get CBS to renew the show.

That sort of thing has happened before.

Ah, well. If CBS picks up "Old Christine," ABC ought to look at "How I Met Your Mother," another bubble show at CBS.

And if spreading rumors about that gets "Mother" renewed, great!

"KING" STILL REIGNS Fox has ordered a 13th season of "King of the Hill" — a show the network hasn't always exactly appreciated.

Well, unless you think canceling it at one point was a sign of appreciation.

"King" is the second-longest running animated series in prime-time history, trailing only — you guessed it! — "The Simpsons."

E-mail: pierce@desnews.com