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Campbell Returns to 'Martin'

Television: In an unexpected move, the actress goes back to the show she left in November after charging the series' star with abuse.

March 21, 1997|GREG BRAXTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Martin" co-star Tisha Campbell, who left the Fox comedy last November saying she feared for her life due to an obsessive campaign of physical and emotional abuse against her by series star Martin Lawrence, has returned to the program.

Campbell, who had vowed to associates that she would never go back to the show, returned to production this week, and will tape two to three episodes that will finish off the season in May, according to a statement released Thursday by HBO Independent Productions, which produces the show for Fox.

"All parties have resolved their differences," the statement said. "All other details are confidential."

Executives and attorneys for HBO declined comment, as did Campbell's attorney, Kurt Peterson. Lawrence's publicist, Joe Sutton, said only, "Everyone is pleased that Tisha is back."

Campbell filed suit against Lawrence and the show's producers last January, leveling numerous charges against them, including sexual harassment and sexual battery. Detailing her decision to leave, she accused Lawrence of making violent threats toward her and of being so volatile and unpredictable that she feared for her life.

The lawsuit included a season-by-season account of what it called Lawrence's escalating mistreatment and obsession, which it said started in the first season when Campbell consistently turned down Lawrence for dates.

Campbell also claimed in the suit that HBO executives had long-standing knowledge of Lawrence's treatment of the actress but failed to do anything about it.

Her lawsuit was filed as a counterclaim to an earlier lawsuit by HBO against Campbell that sought to get her to return to the series pending a union arbitration hearing on the harassment charges.

HBO refused Thursday to discuss the status of the legal actions.

Lawrence and Campbell play a loving married couple on "Martin," which is now in its fifth season. Although Campbell's character, Gina, has been absent in recent episodes, she has been referred to frequently by the other characters.

Traditionally, "Martin" tapes in front of an audience. But for the past few months, it has been shot without an audience, presumably at Lawrence's request. The shows featuring Campbell are also being taped without an audience.

The future of the series remains up in the air. Although insiders had predicted that this would be the last season for "Martin" because of Lawrence's budding film career, sources speculated that the series may return for a sixth season.

Fox has already announced the development of a "Martin" spinoff for next season starring co-star Tichina Arnold.

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