ABC keeps pic talent in series picture

Prexy Tarses sez '...we're not making as many anymore.'

The high-profile failure of “Fantasy Island” hasn’t soured ABC on the notion of working with big-name film talent — though the cost of such deals may make the web think twice about committing to such relationships in the future.

Industry buzz has suggested that ABC pins part of the blame for the “Fantasy” flop on a lack of hands-on involvement from exec producer Barry Sonnenfeld (“Men in Black”).

But Sonnenfeld was “amazingly involved” considering his busy sked, ABC Entertainment topper Stu Bloomberg said Monday, rejecting the idea that ABC is any less interested in teaming up with film folk.

“Would we stop making these deals (because ‘Fantasy’ didn’t work)? No, absolutely not,” Bloomberg told reporters during day two of ABC’s portion of the Television Critics Assn. winter press tour in Pasadena.

At the same time, the tight economic environment plaguing all the webs is forcing ABC to be more hesitant about laying out big bucks for multiseries commitments just because a producer or director is a big name.

“We’re not making those big talent deals,” ABC Entertainment prexy Jamie Tarses said. “We look at every one that comes through, but we’re not making as many anymore.”

Bloomberg and Tarses carefully danced around the issue of whether ABC plans to make one particular big bucks deal: The one to bring back “Home Improvement” for another season.

Though the Alphabet web a few weeks ago began (and just as quickly stopped) running promos touting the final few episodes of the Tim Allen laffer, the ABC execs avoided addressing the future of the show.

“We have no idea if the actors want to come back, if the producers want to come back … We’re still in discussions,” Bloomberg said.” ABC Monday also announced that midseason comedies “It’s Like, You Know” and “The Norm Show” will both bow Wednesday, March 24 at 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., respectively.

“Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place,” which has been holding on to a boffo 94% of its adults 18-49 “Dharma & Greg” lead-in, will take a rest before returning for May sweeps, allowing ABC to avoid the usual glut of repeats in the timeslot. “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” will have wrapped up its midseason order by the time it exits the ABC sked.

Tarses and Bloomberg confirmed pilot orders for several fall contenders, including the David Lynch drama “Mulholland Falls” and Zwick/Herskovitz’s latest hour, “Once Again.” Comedies in the works include “True Love,” starring Adam Goldberg and Julie Delpy, and “The Guide,” with Christine Taylor (“Party Girl”).

ABC also confirmed that its Mary Tyler Moore project is officially dead.

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