Stephen M. Silverman
September 10, 2002 01:00 PM

Thanks to Ben Affleck, “Push” has come to shove.

The new ABC show that Affleck is coproducing with Matt Damon, Sean Bailey and Chris Moore, “Push, Nevada,” debuts Sept. 17 and has a novel way to attract viewers: The producers are offering $1 million to the viewer who can solve the mystery written into the drama.

As Affleck, 30, quipped to the Associated Press: “There’s nothing like a cheap gimmick to get people to watch your show.”

Viewers can choose to watch the program as they would any other dramatic series, or they can solve the mystery by watching the show. The show will also provide clues that will guide them to Web sites helping them solve the puzzle.

“Push” will need all the help it can get: The show’s regular time period is on Thursday nights, facing stiff competition from both CBS’s “CSI” and NBC’s “Will & Grace.”

As for Affleck, Jennifer Lopez’s main squeeze isn’t giving away any pre-show clues about the mystery behind the series, beyond saying that the show is about an IRS agent who receives a fax that leads him into the town of Push.

TV critics who caught early previews of the show (which opens with a naked man leaving a cave carrying a bag loaded with cash and then jumping into a car that speeds into the desert) found it to be moody, quirky, and not dissimilar in tone to David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks.”

One scribe even gave away a typical mystery — a motel room that changes its number.

As Affleck told reviewers this past summer: “It’s a contained mystery arc that will be solved in 13 episodes … a stand-alone show with an interactive component.”

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