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OUTTAKES THE SEQUEL

Shooting A Dead Horse

August 30, 1987|Rick Sherwood

Why, we wondered, is production continuing on ABC's "Bargain Hunters" home shopping/game show even though it's been sentenced to death?

Some suggest that producer Merrill Heatter wants to make sure that ABC makes good on its 65-episode commitment--run them or not. By the time the show departs the network on Friday, only about half the episodes shot or being shot will have aired.

Insisted the three-decade veteran of the game show wars ("Hollywood Squares" his piece de resistance ), "There's a third party to all this--a Florida firm providing the merchandise for the home-shopping part. We owe them 65 shows and they have a high degree of interest in getting them."

"Bargain Hunters" tried to capitalize on the home-shopping craze while luring game-show audiences. ABC wasn't happy with the ratings or the prospects of same and wielded the axe about a month after its July bow--a month in which almost half of the daytime shows were pre-empted by "The Ollie North Show."

Still, production continued last week with eight tapings and wraps tomorrow with four more. Heatter said that unaired segments might find an afterlife in syndication--much like his upcoming revival of NBC's long-forgotten "High Rollers" (to be seen on KHJ-TV Channel 9)--but. . . .

"I've created or produced 25 shows and 24 have been canceled," Heatter said matter-of-factly. "I don't let this stuff get to me anymore."

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