ABC won't cancel '8 Rules'

Star John Ritter died Thursday

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

— ABC's "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" will continue despite star John Ritter's death and will show the TV family coping with his character's loss, the network said Tuesday.

"Everybody recognizes that John loved that show. ... He'd have wanted the show to continue," Lloyd Braun, chairman of ABC Entertainment Television Group, told a telephone news conference.

Braun and ABC Entertainment President Susan Lyne said the sitcom would begin next Tuesday as planned and that the network would air the three episodes Ritter filmed before his death last week.

After that, the series co-starring Katey Sagal will go into repeats while writers retool it and production starts. No date was given for when the show would return to the air.

Ritter, making a TV series comeback 25 years after he starred in "Three's Company," became ill on the "8 Simple Rules" set and died Thursday of an undetected heart problem. He was 54.

It hasn't been decided if the death of Ritter's character, Paul Hennessy, will mirror what happened to the actor, ABC executives said.

Ritter's series, which premiered last year with solid ratings, was considered a key part of ABC's comeback effort and anchored its Tuesday night lineup of family comedies.

ABC knows it's facing a difficult task, rebuilding a comedy on a death and especially that of the series' star, network executives acknowledged.

While the idea of recasting Ritter's role was quickly rejected, new characters will be added at some point, the ABC executives said.