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Sayonara, English?

October 14, 1998|ROBERT STRAUSS

"Iron Chef" viewers in Southern California were stunned last May when the show's English subtitles suddenly disappeared. Without them, non-Japanese speakers couldn't begin to decipher whether the unusual ingredient a chef just used was dried sea urchin ovaries or red snapper livers! Gone too was the double-entendre narration that makes "Iron Chef" a combination of high camp and slick wit.

A grass-roots campaign to have the subtitles reinstated quickly mobilized. Faxes, letters, e-mails and phone calls flew to Fuji-TV in Tokyo from distressed fans. Bereft Angelenos found their efforts fortified in August when San Francisco viewers lost their subtitles as well.

It's all part of a copyright and licensing fee controversy and the good news may be on the way. Fuji-TV is developing "Iron Chef" for the international market. The international version will have English voiceovers as well as subtitles. Fuji is offering the program for TV licensing at Cannes this month. In the meantime, viewers can continue to watch "Iron Chef" at 6:45 p.m. Sunday evenings on KSCI-TV, which is Channel 18 in most areas of Southern California.

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