ABC to Stick with 8 Simple Rules

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ABC will continue with 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter
after the untimely death of star John Ritter last week, and it won’t recast its
lead.

ABC will air the first three episodes, including the season premiere
Tuesday, Sept. 23, then go into brief hiatus while the show’s writing staff
rewrites the rest of the season.

8 Simple Rules will then return to deal with the death of Paul Hennessy,
his family’s grief and the way his wife and kids rebuild their lives together.

"This will be a different show, telling a different story," said Lloyd Braun,
chairman of the ABC Television Group. "This kind of thing hits real families. We
will deal with those issues head-on and, ultimately, comedy will be reintroduced
into this show."

"Obviously, when all families go through something like this, they ultimately
come out the other side of it and build a new life," said Susan Lyne, president
of ABC Entertainment. "We can't lay out for you right now exactly how long we'll
be dealing with the death and loss. It may be several episodes, and it may be
longer than that."

It remains to be seen whether the show’s audience will stick with it
through the process.

This is the first time in TV history that a show has proceeded after its star
has died, although many shows have continued after supporting cast members have
passed away.

Notable examples are Cheers, which lost Nick Colasanto, who played
Coach, and The Sopranos, which lost Nancy Marchand, Tony’s mother,
although her character was already sick in the story’s plotline.

Co-star Katey Sagal will take on a much more central role without Ritter,
Braun said.

ABC is airing a tribute to Ritter Tuesday night at 8 p.m., hosted by Diane Sawyer
and featuring interviews with the show’s cast.

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