'8 Simple Rules' to Continue as Family Tragedy (1 Viewer)

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sparker

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Tue Sep 16, 7:14 PM ET Add Entertainment - Reuters TV to My Yahoo!


By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - ABC said on Tuesday it was reshaping its hit comedy show "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" following the sudden death of main star John Ritter (news), and taking the TV family through the loss of a beloved father.


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Slideshow: Actor John Ritter Dies at 54




Saying it was entering "uncharted waters" for prime-time network television, ABC executives said all those associated with the show, including Ritter's widow Amy Yasbeck (news), wanted to continue.


But since there was no question of replacing Ritter as the stay-at-home TV dad with two troublesome teenage daughters, the network decided to write real life into the storyline.


"Future episodes will take viewers into the Hennessy household as they experience the loss of a beloved father and construct a new life," Lloyd Braun, chairman of the ABC Entertainment Television Group, told reporters.


Ritter, 54, collapsed in Burbank last Thursday while filming the fourth episode of the upcoming second season of the show. He died in hospital of a previously undetected heart ailment.


His death not only robbed American audiences of a favorite TV star but left the ailing ABC network facing a tough choice days before launching its new prime-time lineup in which "8 Simple Rules" was considered a linchpin.


The show proved to be ABC's highest-rated comedy in 2002, placing a respectable 43 among nearly 190 prime time shows. It helped the network, which trails CBS, FOX and NBC in ratings, reestablish itself as the home of family-friendly comedies.


ABC had been widely expected to shelve the series given the central part played by Ritter's character in the comedic father-daughter dynamic.


But executives said they would go ahead on Sept. 23. as scheduled with airing the three new episodes of "8 Simple Rules," and then air repeats while the writers and cast worked on the comedy show's sudden transformation into tragedy.


"We are going some place that no other show has gone, but it feels right," said Susan Lyne, president ABC Entertainment.


"We don't pretend to have a roadmap here; as in life, we will take it an episode at a time and find laughs where they feel natural and right," Lyne said.


ABC said it had not yet figured out how Ritter's TV character would die, nor many other details of how what started as a laugh-a-minute sitcom would continue to win ratings as a large as life tragedy.


Few TV sitcoms have found a formula for success after the death or departure of key actors. CBS tried writing in the death of the character played by comedian Redd Foxx in "The Royal Family" after the actor's own death a month after the show premiered in 1991, but the series did not catch on.


ABC admitted that a ratings-friendly transition of "8 Simple Rules" would be unprecedented for network television but executives declined to specify how long they would give the series to succeed.


"We are committed to returning this show and having it continue as a dominant show on our network but we all realize this is uncharted territory," Braun said.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20030916/tv_nm/leisure_abc_dc_5
 

John Corn

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Sep 6, 2003
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I've gone back and forth with my thoughts with what they should do with the show, but I think that they made the right decision to continue the show, as everyone who knew John seems to believe that is the only way he would want it. It should be interesting to see where they go with the direction of the show.
 

Stargazer

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I also think this is the right decision. This does take reality tv shows to a new level, a little combination of both.
 

jerryez

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I think they should replace John Ritter with John Goodman. If anybody could pull it off, he is a good enough comedian to do it.
 
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