A blowout on the set of Arsenio Hall’s ABC midseason comedy from DreamWorks Television has led to the exit of executive producer David Rosenthal.
According to industry sources, Hall and Rosenthal had an ugly argument Tuesday regarding the writing and direction of the sitcom, which ended when Hall is said to have made some unflattering remarks about Rosenthal’s anatomy and told him to go write some jokes.
Rosenthal then quit and stayed away from the set Wednesday. The show’s staff is expected to try to bring Rosenthal back, although it’s unclear what the chances are for success.
The as-yet-untitled romantic comedy, which stars Hall as a sportscaster and Vivica A. Fox as his wife, is set to premiere on ABC in early March in the Wednesday 9:30 slot currently held by “Ellen.” ABC is betting heavily on this show to help revive its sagging primetime lineup and is paying DreamWorks Television about $900,000 per episode for the show.
ABC, through its partnership with DreamWorks, also has an ownership stake in the show.
ABC and DreamWorks declined comment.
There is no word yet as to who would replace Rosenthal if he does not return. Hall is also an executive producer of the show and Thomas Schlamme is a consulting producer.
It’s also unclear if Rosenthal’s exit will delay production. The show is in the midst of preparing the second episode and still has time to be on schedule for its six-week run.
Rosenthal is credited with creating “Ellen” (which aired in its first year as “These Friends of Mine” ). He also has worked on “Anything but Love” and “Nurses.”
The battles behind the scenes at the Arsenio Hall show are the latest for an industry that has seen more producing shakeups than usual this season.
CBS’ freshman comedy “Ink,” which is also from DreamWorks, was delayed for a month while a new producer was brought in and four episodes scrapped. The Eye web’s “Cybill” has also endured musical producers, as has NBC’s “Men Behaving Badly”; that sitcom has also been plagued by fights between cast and crew.
ABC recently had to scrap a midseason comedy starring Jim Belushi, who proved to be less than thrilled with the show and quit after production started.