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ABC Weighing ‘Roseanne,’ ‘Home Improvement’ Time Swap

July 18, 1994

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. (AP) _ Divorce-court bound Roseanne could be facing some upheaval in her TV life as well.

ABC, seeking to blunt a Tuesday night challenge by NBC, is toying with the idea of moving ″Home Improvement″ into the longtime ″Roseanne″ time slot at 9 p.m., network programming head Ted Harbert said Monday.

If that happens, ″Roseanne″ would take the 9 p.m. Wednesday slot now occupied by ″Home Improvement.″

As 1994-95 network schedules now have it, ″Roseanne″ would encounter new competition Tuesday from NBC’s ″Frasier.″ Last year, it easily trounced NBC’s ″John Larroquette Show.″

But the ″Cheers″ spinoff starring Kelsey Grammer performed so well in its first year that NBC moved it from Thursdays to run opposite ″Roseanne.″

″We continue to knock it around,″ Harbert said of the possible time swap. ″We’ve got to decide what we think of ‘Frasier’ ... what we think of that threat,″ Harbert told a Television Critics Association meeting.

Asked if the possible switch indicated the primetime appeal of ″Roseanne″ was diminshing, Harbert was diplomatic.

″Roseanne is going into its seventh year. ‘Home Improvement’ is going into its fourth year. Obviously there’s a difference in the bell curve″ of a series’ life, Harbert said.

But ″Roseanne″ remains a very strong show, he said, ranking among the top five last season.

″We want to have Roseanne on this network for years to come,″ Harbert said of the series’ star. The possible time change had yet to be broached to the actress, he said.

Roseanne has filed for divorce from her husband, Tom Arnold, who shared producing credits with her on the sitcom. Harbert says Roseanne was eager to return to work, with no divorce-related problems anticipated.

Regardless of the possible show swap, ABC viewers will definitely see one change in the fall: fewer main title sequences.

Harbert believes going straight into a program with minimal delay gives viewers one less reason to start channel surfing. Credits will still be shown, perhaps over opening scenes.

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