Arnold seeks divorce; sitcoms’ fate uncertain

Roseanne Arnold officially filed for divorce Monday, citing irreconcilable differences with her husband of four years, Tom Arnold.

The comedienne and star of the ABC sitcom “Roseanne” has apparently left the country for a European vacation, canceling a scheduled appearance at UCLA today to receive the Jack Benny award, an annual honor presented to comics.

Arnold has also sought a restraining order against her husband, citing fear for her safety. An affidavit claims that Tom Arnold forced his way onto the “Roseanne” set Friday, despite the efforts of security guards to deny him access.

Monday’s legal action, anticipated after the major blowup between the Arnolds last Friday (Daily Variety, April 18), shed no additional light on what a separation would mean regarding the couple’s joint television interests.

Those include the CBS sitcom “Tom” and various otherprojects in development through their Wapello County Prods., which has an overall relationship with Warner Bros. TV and multiple series commitments at ABC.

The big question, however, would involve “Roseanne,” the duo’s bread and butter and, in its sixth season, still one of TV’s highest-rated programs.

Before the latest twist, the Arnolds insisted that they have yet to come to terms with the Carsey-Werner Co., which produces the show. C-W announced a three-year renewal deal with ABC in February, but the Arnolds said they’d signed for only two more years.

More recently, sources say, the Arnolds have maintained that an option on their services has lapsed. For its part, Carsey-Werner has let stand a statement that it considers the matter closed and said Monday it’s proceeding with production plans for next season.

The show will be looking for a new exec producer if reports are true that Tom Arnold has been kicked off the show. His own sitcom, “Tom,” has four episodes remaining to be shot but is struggling, and, minus Roseanne, who shares exec producer credit, may have lost whatever leverage it enjoyed.

Industry execs remained skeptical Monday even after the divorce filing, citing a long history of PR stunts involving the Arnolds; however, the latest skirmish, played out publicly Friday at the CBS lot where “Roseanne” is filmed, appears to be more serious.

The petition filed in L.A. Superior Court on Roseanne Arnold’s behalf made no allegations regarding Kim Silva, an assistant at Wapello County with whom the Arnolds entered into a three-way marriage in December as a prank. Silva was also dismissed.

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