Actor forced to bow out of 'Beast' panel

Patrick Swayze had been set to promote his A&E drama “The Beast” at the Television Critics Assn. on Friday, but instead, network execs made headlines by telling scribes that the thesp, who has been fighting cancer, had been hospitalized for pneumonia.

According to network prexy Bob DeBitetto, A&E learned Friday ayem that Swayze had checked himself into a hospital for treatment of pneumonia. The thesp is undergoing chemotherapy for inoperable pancreatic cancer.

“Chemotherapy can take a toll on your immune system, and illnesses are an unavoidable part of it,” DeBitetto said, adding that Swayze had told him he was committed to “get back to promoting ‘The Beast’ as soon as he is back on his feet and feeling well again.”

DeBitetto underscored A&E’s commitment to the drama by noting that the network and “Beast” studio Sony Pictures TV decided to go forward with the series even as Swayze’s condition made it impossible for them to obtain insurance for the cast.

“We both knew that we were taking a potentially unusual amount of risk given the situation,” he said. “We all did our homework. And Patrick and his representatives were great about keeping all of us posted about his treatment.”

Series, which bows Thursday at 10 p.m. on A&E, stars Swayze as a grizzled FBI vet working alongside a rookie partner played by Travis Fimmel.

Despite the serious health challenge facing the show’s star, John Romano, exec producer and showrunner of “The Beast,” said producers of the series are looking forward to shooting a season two of the series with Swayze.

“He’s giving us every signal that he’s in a forward mode and that he’s looking forward to next season,” Romano said.

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