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Tom Arnold, ABC Differ on Fate of 'Jackie Thomas' : Television: Star has said it 'will be on the air next year.' Network says a final decision will be made in May.

March 23, 1993|DANIEL CERONE | TIME STAFF WRITER

Tom Arnold has been going around saying that his ABC sitcom, "The Jackie Thomas Show," has been renewed for next season, but the network says that a decision has not been made.

"The official status is that it's under consideration for the fall," ABC spokesman Bill Saul said Monday. Lorimar Television, which produces the series, has not been notified of a pickup for next season.

Nonetheless, Arnold, who plays a brutish TV star in the series, has been talking it up with talk-show hosts (Arsenio Hall, Tom Snyder) and numerous print reporters. "We will be on the air next year," he said in a Q&A with the magazine the Advocate.

"That's not coming from us," Saul said. "You asked for the official status. You didn't ask for Tom's opinion. Tom is saying it's been picked up. We're saying it's under consideration. That's as simple as we can put it."

For this story, Arnold appeared to back off somewhat, telling his publicist that he feels "fairly confident" that "Jackie Thomas" will be renewed.

"Jackie Thomas" currently ranks as the No. 18 show on television. That would be fine if "Jackie Thomas" did not air immediately after the No. 2 show on television, "Roseanne," starring Arnold's wife, Roseanne Arnold.

Over the past four weeks--and for most of its run since debuting Dec. 1--"Jackie Thomas" has lost 33% of the audience provided by "Roseanne's" strong lead-in. Normally, that would mean cancellation. But in this case, executives at ABC must weigh the reaction such an action would produce from the Arnolds, who are executive producers of "Roseanne."

Some observers in the TV industry have suggested that Tom Arnold's public comments are an effort to "bully" ABC into renewing his series.

One source close to Tom Arnold maintains that he is simply speaking the truth: "Tom has said time and time again that the show has been picked up, although he is really not supposed to say anything until May. But ABC told him that it was a go, because he has writers that he wants to hold on to."

An official decision on "Jackie Thomas" will be reached in May, ABC said.

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