- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 16, 2003

‘8’ a go, sans Ritter

ABC announced yesterday that it will carry on with “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter” despite the death of star John Ritter.

The role of Paul Hennessy, the family patriarch, will not be recast. Instead, the show’s first three episodes already filmed prior to Mr. Ritter’s passing will air as originally scheduled and a short hiatus will follow. The sitcom’s creative team will soon start work on new shows that will explain the death of the family’s father.

Lloyd Braun, chairman of ABC Entertainment Television Group, told reporters in a conference call that the impending fall season forced the network to quickly decide the show’s fate. “In future episodes, we will take viewers into the Hennessy household as they experience the loss of a father and construct a new life together,” Mr. Braun said.

“We’ll play out the situation as real life.”

The executives said the idea of recasting Mr. Ritter’s role was considered briefly but quickly dismissed. Susan Lyne, president of ABC Entertainment, said the decision came after consulting with the show’s creative team as well as Mr. Ritter’s wife, actress Amy Yasbeck.

Mr. Ritter, 54, died Thursday from an undiagnosed heart condition while shooting new episodes of his hit sitcom. His most famous role was that of the bumbling Jack Tripper on ABC’s “Three’s Company.”

“8 Simple Rules” provided ABC with a rare breakout hit last season, which was the show’s first season.

“8 Simple Rules” starred Mr. Ritter as an exasperated family man trying to deal with his attractive daughters’ teen world as well as other family problems.

The series’ season premiere will be at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

TLC sets ‘Date’

Reality dating shows purport to find their contestants true love, but they often make the poor saps look pretty silly in the process.

That won’t happen on “Date Patrol,” the Learning Channel’s new show that helps singles be better prepared for the cruel dating scene.

“Date Patrol,” debuting Saturday evening at 10, leaves the humiliation to “Blind Date” and its ilk. The show’s dating experts counsel singles on style, communication and personal confidence to help them find their true love.

“Date Patrol” tracks the participants for four weeks. The process begins with an arranged date that is videotaped and studied by the experts.

Once the date is broken down to find what went right, and wrong, it’s time to make the necessary modifications. The four-week period wraps with a final date, a sort of graduation ceremony that lets us see how much information has sunk in.

Body language expert Tracey Cox, who starred in the original English version of the show and will appear in future episodes of “Date Patrol,” says dating shows don’t have to be cruel.

“Reality shows have gotten a really bad reputation,” Miss Cox says.

“The whole point of ‘Date Patrol’ isn’t that we’re trying to change people or create a clone. We’re trying to bring out what’s inside, to make sure the inside and the outside match.”

Easier said than done for those who didn’t pick up the fine art of dating where most of us do — at home.

We learn how men treat women and women treat men by the relationships we see growing up, Miss Cox says.

What typically happens on the home front, she says, is that the father might have had an affair or the parents may have split at some point, causing emotions that might affect future dating patterns.

Mastering one’s body language can help deal with those handicaps.

“Body language,” she says, “can be manipulated, but it’s all innate. When we’re attracted to somebody, we act a certain way.

Miss Cox, the author of “Superflirt” and other odes to dating, says not everyone can be transformed into a Casanova overnight. But a few tweaks can make a difference: Make eye contact, pull your shoulders back and walk tall.

“For some, that’s all you need,” she says.

Ah-nuld, Larry chat

Would-be California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger drops by Larry King’s studios tonight as part of the talker’s nightly chat-fest.

The bodybuilder and movie star will discuss the upcoming recall election, which may be put off for months given the current legal imbroglio over antiquated voting machines.

“Larry King Live” airs weeknights at 9 on CNN.

The nominees are …

Veteran performers, including Fleetwood Mac, Celine Dion and Cher, mixed with youngsters Beyonce and Avril Lavigne on the list of nominees for the 31st annual American Music Awards, announced yesterday in Los Angeles.

Miss Dion received two nominations, for favorite female pop-rock artist and favorite adult contemporary artist, where she’s up against Cher and Norah Jones — whose folksy, sensuous voice earned her five Grammys earlier this year for her platinum debut LP, “Come Away With Me.”

No clear favorites emerged, with two nominations each going to R. Kelly, Luther Vandross, Ashanti and Beyonce in the soul-R&B; category, Shania Twain in the country category and Sean Paul and Missy Elliott in the rap/hip-hop category.

“American Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken also received a nomination in the favorite-male pop category.

Rapper Eminem received two nods for favorite male rapper and for the soundtrack to his semiautobiographical film “8 Mile.”

The 20 awards, which, traditionally have been handed out in January, will be presented Nov. 16 on ABC-TV at L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium.

Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel is the emcee.

The nominations are based on sales figures and radio play. Winners are selected by a survey of about 20,000 listeners.

‘Dead’ renewed

Showtime has renewed “Dead Like Me,” a prime-time series set in the afterlife, for a second season, ordering 15 more episodes, according to Reuters News Agency.

“Dead,” which premiered in June, stars Mandy Patinkin and Ellen Muth as deceased humans-turned-angels who serve as “reapers,” escorting the newly dead to the afterlife.

Producer MGM will return “Dead” to production with its original cast and crew in February or March with an eye toward putting it back on air in the summer.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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