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Dancing Baby in TV encore

The Net-famous Dancing Baby, originally known as "Baby Cha Cha," is coming back to television tonight.

    Warm up your "ooga-chakas," folks--the Dancing Baby is coming back to television tonight.

    The Net-famous Dancing Baby, originally known as "Baby Cha Cha," made its television debut on the hit Fox TV series Ally McBeal January 5--bringing the convergence of Internet culture and mainstream entertainment to another level. The computer animation is scheduled to reappear in tonight's episode of McBeal.

    The melding of the two media has not received this much attention since the September Webcast of the live season premiere of NBC's hit show ER. In this case, the convergence is taken a step further, with the actual content being influenced by an Internet phenomenon. The rise of online TV listings is another example of the synergy taking shape between television and the Net.

    The Dancing Baby appeared on the Fox show as a hallucination of title character Ally McBeal, serving as a reminder that her biological clock is ticking. Facing her "demon," McBeal shares a late-night jig with the cartoon kid.

    When the show was awarded a Golden Globe last night for Best Comedy/Musical Series, the clip shown was McBeal's dance with the baby.

    The gyrating infant began its life in 1997 as a demonstration of Kinetix's animation software Character Studio. It became a Net legend, traversing cyberspace via email and popping up on home pages, dancing to 1970s tune "Hooked on a Feeling" by Blue Swede. New versions of Baby Cha Cha soon began cropping up, including Kickboxing Baby, Rasta Baby, Retro Baby, and Psycho Baby.

    Recently, however, with its popularity soaring, there has been some backlash, as veteran Netizens tend to hate the cooption of their inside jokes. A new email circulating the Net has the Dancing Baby struck by a speeding car.

    Kinetix, which creates modeling and animation software, is the multimedia business unit of design software firm Autodesk.