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Judge nixes ‘Home’ restraining order

:A hearing has been set for March 17 on the lawsuit filed against Walt Disney Co. by “Home Improvement” producers Wind Dancer Prods.

However, Los Angeles superior court judge Robert O’Brien denied Wind Dancer’s request for a temporary restraining order prohibiting Walt Disney Television from negotiating with Disney-owned ABC on the production company’s behalf.

Last week, Wind Dancer filed the suit claiming that Disney was looking to cut a sweetheart renewal deal for the hit ABC show (Daily Variety, Feb. 25). Since Disney owns ABC, Wind Dancer said it fears its interests are not being represented in renewal negotiations. ABC is said to have been willing to pay $3 million per episode, which was agreeable to Disney. However, the Wind Dancer execs want $4 million and for Disney to shop the show to other networks for bids.

Although “Home Improvement’s” ratings have slipped this season, the show is still a top-10 performer and a key to ABC’s lineup. It continues to win in the Tuesday 9 p.m. timeslot and if the network were to lose the show, its rebuilding efforts would no doubt be severely hampered.

Sources close to the Disney camp saw the rejection of the restraining order request as a victory and indication that the court will rule in Disney’s favor, and claim that Wind Dancer is being greedy in its demands. However, Wind Dancer said in its suit it is worried that the true value of the show is not being represented in negotiations.

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