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THE NATION; John Ritter's Death Shocks Fans, Stymies ABC's Hopes
Los Angeles Times - Los Angeles, Calif.
Subjects: Fatalities; Actors; Cardiovascular disease
Author: Richard Verrier and James Bates
Date: Sep 13, 2003
Start Page: A.1
Section: Main News; Part A; Business Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

The unexpected death of actor [John Ritter], who rose to fame in the 1970s as a wacky bachelor in the hit ABC series "Three's Company," not only shocked fans and colleagues but delivered a powerful blow to the ailing network's hopes of reviving its fortunes through the comedian's latest sitcom.

"John was the reason for the show," said producer Ted Harbert, a former network TV executive and a longtime friend of Ritter's. "He's irreplaceable."

ABC decided to premiere "8 Simple Rules" along with other fall hopefuls on a single Tuesday night. To help sell the show, ABC used Ritter's return to TV comedy as a publicity hook and promoted the program relentlessly, including in McDonald's restaurants.

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