CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- ABC has decided to continue production on its sophomore comedy "Eight Simple Rules..." despite the loss of lead John Ritter. The news was announced via press release yesterday:
ABC has decided to continue production of its popular comedy series, "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter," Lloyd Braun, chairman, ABC Entertainment Television Group, Susan Lyne, president, ABC entertainment, and Stephen McPherson, president, Touchstone Television announced today.
"8 Simple Rules..." will continue to lead off ABC's Tuesday lineup. The final three episodes completed by Mr. Ritter will air sequentially beginning with the season premiere on Tuesday, September 23 (8:00-8:30 p.m., ET). Each of these episodes will open with a special introduction by members of the cast. Future episodes will then take viewers into the Hennessy household as they experience the loss of a beloved father and construct a new life.
Amy Yasbeck, John Ritter's wife, stated, "John always dealt with anything that life threw at him with humor. He believed in this show and its message that a strong family can get through anything. He felt so lucky to be working with such wonderful people every day. They all had such a warm friendship, and I know John would want his friends to be able to continue doing what they love."
In discussing the announcement, Ms. Lyne said, "John Ritter's death was such a huge personal loss for all of us who worked with him that addressing its impact on our schedule was all the more difficult."
Ms. Lyne continued, "Ever since we re-set our course to embrace the audience and sensibility that built this network, John Ritter and '8 Simple Rules...' have been at the heart of our effort: a family sitcom that celebrated the complicated, sometimes misguided heroics of parenting today. The millions of Americans who invited the Hennessys into their homes each week watched to laugh, but we suspect they also watched because the show celebrated the struggles that go into making any family work. We have an opportunity now to get to know the Hennessys in a way that is very rare on television, to see how a strong family deals with unexpected tragedy. We don't pretend to have a road map here; as in life, we will take it an episode at a time, and find laughs where they feel natural and right. We suspect that John was a big enough force that his presence and spirit will be felt on '8 Simple Rules...' for a long time to come. His television family, played by four wonderful actors -- Katey Sagal, Kaley Cuoco, Amy Davidson, and Martin Spanjers - will make sure of it."
"There is no question that John Ritter is irreplaceable," said Mr. McPherson. "But after in-depth discussions with the cast, the executive producers and John's wife, Amy, we all decided that John would have wanted us to go on with the show that he loved so much."
"8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" stars John Ritter as Paul Hennessy, Katey Sagal as Cate Hennessy, Kaley Cuoco as Bridget Hennessy, Amy Davidson as Kerry Hennessy and Martin Spanjers as Rory Hennessy.
While not noted in the release, ABC will run repeats of the show's first season beginning October 14 until the post-Ritter episodes begin, likely in November.