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C-W, Arnolds add 2 seasons

Roseanne and Tom Arnold have signed with the Carsey-Werner Co. to produce the hit ABC sitcom “Roseanne” for a minimum of three more seasons, which would carry TV’s top-rated comedy into 1996.

ABC and Carsey-Werner agreed prior to the current season to a two-year renewal that carries through the 1993-94 term, the show’s sixth season. The network has first-negotiation rights for subsequent years of “Roseanne,” although Carsey-Werner theoretically could shop the property elsewhere for 1994- 95 and beyond if it can’t reach a deal with ABC.

The agreement between Carsey-Werner and the Arnolds was brought to the attention of Daily Variety by Tom Arnold, responding an earlier story noting that ABC has no assurance it will have “Roseanne” after next year (Daily Variety , April 1). Through a representative, Arnold noted that he and his wife have agreed to keep doing the show through at least an eighth season and “fully expect it to continue” beyond that point.

Arnold’s rep also noted that there is no intention at this time to move the show from ABC, though Carsey-Werner Co. vice chairman/CEO Stuart Glickman said it’s unlikely the network and production company will actively discuss extending their deal until next year.

With the Arnolds set, the only sticking point to continuing the series would be money. ABC renewed “Roseanne” last year for 50 episodes over the two seasons at a reported license fee of $ 2 million per episode — in the range of early per-episode fees on long-running top-rated properties such as “Cheers” ($ 2.5 million at its peak) and “The Cosby Show.”

The prospect of extending TV’s top-rated comedy and ABC’s key Tuesday anchor should add to the Arnolds’ leverage for renewal of “The Jackie Thomas Show,” the sitcom the couple produce under their Wapello County Prods. banner in association with Lorimar TV. ABC has said it won’t make a final decision on renewing “Jackie” until next fall’s prime time schedule is set in May.

Although he eschewed specifics, Glickman said that in addition to the Arnolds (who exec produce the series), Carsey-Werner has contracts with other “Roseanne” talent that extend beyond next season. John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf both have been active in feature roles, and the company said Sara Gilbert will stay with the show next season despite starting college.

“Roseanne” has also started to receive awards, including a Golden Globe as outstanding comedy series last December and, more recently, a Peabody award.

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