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ABC Abruptly Pulls the Plug on 'The Dana Carvey Show'

Company Town

May 07, 1996|BRIAN LOWRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ABC pulled its at-times controversial sketch comedy series "The Dana Carvey Show" off the air Monday, abruptly scheduling a second episode of "Home Improvement" to run in its place at 9:30 tonight.

The network previously had reduced its order on the program from 13 to eight episodes, meaning a single half-hour has yet to air. That installment will now be held until after the May ratings sweeps--a key period in determining advertising rates for local TV stations that ends later this month.

Pulling the show represents an effort to bolster ABC's Tuesday ratings performance, with the network currently embroiled in a fight for second place with CBS. NBC has again vaulted to what figures to be an insurmountable early sweeps lead.

"The Dana Carvey Show" generated controversy initially when a sketch that featured Carvey as President Clinton breast-feeding a baby prompted a title sponsor, Taco Bell, to remove its name from the program. The show had planned to feature a different sponsor in the title each week, as in "The Taco Bell Dana Carvey Show," spoofing the prevalence of such corporate sponsorships in sports programming.

The advertiser tie-ins were dropped a few weeks ago and were not a factor in ABC's decision to bench the series. The network was concerned with its declining viewership.

The program is the third under-performing series from Brillstein-Grey Communications, a partnership between Capital Cities/ABC and the management-production firm that's also responsible for the on-hiatus ABC comedy "The Naked Truth," starring Tea Leoni, and "The Jeff Foxworthy Show." Nor has ABC fared particularly well with two programs from DreamWorks SKG, its other major production partnership, which produces "Champs" and "High Incident."

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