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Kiss Helps, but ABC-Arnolds Relationship Still Strained

March 04, 1994|GREG BRAXTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Just because ABC decided to air the controversial "Roseanne" episode this week in which Roseanne Arnold was kissed by another woman doesn't mean the star has kissed and made up with the network or the show's production company.

Tom Arnold, Roseanne's husband and one of the show's executive producers, said the couple's longstanding strained relations with the network were improved a bit after ABC decided to air the episode unedited. He said the network had balked for several weeks about showing the kiss between Roseanne and guest star Mariel Hemingway.

But as for their future relationship with ABC, Arnold said there still existed strain "with some folks." The couple has been upset with the network since last year, when ABC canceled their "The Jackie Thomas Show."

Arnold added that he and his wife consider null and void the recent announcement by ABC and the Carsey-Werner Co., which produces "Roseanne," that the series would continue for three more years. The Arnolds have only two years remaining on their deal with Carsey-Werner.

"We're still negotiating with Carsey-Werner," said Arnold, who expressed unhappiness that the production company accepted the ABC deal without consulting him or Roseanne, as he had asked. "We wanted to be partners with them, and they treated us like mere employees," he said.

Industry sources said that under the new agreement, the license fee that ABC pays for an episode of "Roseanne" is more than $3 million. Arnold indicated that Carsey-Werner should have considered other offers for "Roseanne" from CBS, NBC and Fox. CBS, which on Wednesday night introduced a sitcom starring Tom Arnold, reportedly was willing to increase the license fee to about $4 million per episode.

Carsey-Werner declined to respond to Arnold's comments, saying only that the deal with the company and the Arnolds was closed.

Arnold said the couple would be "quite demanding" in their negotiations with Carsey-Werner: "She is the most important aspect of the show, and it cannot be done unless she is happy."

Nevertheless, he indicated that he and his wife would like to stay involved with "Roseanne" for three more seasons. After that, Roseanne may be hosting a daytime talk show. Tom Arnold said they are considering two offers from major syndicators: "Rosey really likes talk shows. She's been on enough of them."

Despite the strain with ABC, meanwhile, the Arnolds' multi-series development deal with the network is continuing. Arnold said the network has ordered a pilot produced by the couple about four black women and has expressed interest in another series proposal that would possibly star Sandra Bernhard as a single mother working in the fashion industry.

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