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Comics throw zingers during HRTS luncheon

Stand-up comics who’ve made the transition to television took center stage at yesterday’s Hollywood Radio & Television Society luncheon, with Garry Shandling and the characteristically outspoken Roseanne Arnold trading one-liners to highlight the event.

Flanked by two other comedians-turned-actor/producers, Keenen Ivory Wayans of Fox Broadcasting Co.’s “In Living Color” and Paul Reiser of NBC’s “Mad About You ,” Shandling observed that doing stand-up compels performers to develop a point of view that can be brought to other projects and which is usually sorely lacking in bad television shows.

Both Wayans and Arnold, meanwhile, criticized TV for trying to clone existing hits, constantly putting the networks in the position of playing catch-up by re-creating old successes instead of developing new ones, Wayans noted.

The “Living Color” exec producer added that he’d like to take advertisers out of the mix in terms of the creative process, saying shows are too frequently affected by a single letter from “one psycho lady (in) the Midwest.”

Arnold, for her part, was as advertised, saying, “The stuff they put on TV … is largely offensive–racist, sexist and every other ‘ist.’ ”

She opened the discussion by commenting, in regard to producers, that “generally, I have no … respect for any of those people” but that it’s “pretty cool” now that she’s part of those ranks.

Moderated by HRTS and NBC Entertainment president Warren Littlefield, the panel spent most of the hour exchanging good-naturedbarbs, with Shandling saying he represented cable (because of his HBO series “The Larry Saunders Show”) and isn’t on a major network “because I didn’t marry Roseanne.”

Her husband, Tom Arnold, was on the dais and will star in his own sitcom, “The Jackie Thomas Show,” following “Roseanne” starting Dec. 1.

Asked whom comics will pick on now that Dan Quayle has left the scene, Shandling added, “I personally am going to continue with Dan Quayle (jokes). I don’t care what he’s doing.”

On other matters, Littlefield said the HRTS committee exploring ways to improve the Primetime Emmy Awards telecast has met and will be presenting suggestionsshortly to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, lauding ATAS officials for being “very open-minded” to the process.

He also said the HRTS is still exploring ways to participate in Rebuild L.A., following a plea to the group from former luncheon speaker RLA chief Peter Ueberroth, and will provide more specific information to members at a later date.

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