(AP) ABC's "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" will continue despite star John Ritter's death and will show the TV family coping with his character's loss, the network said Tuesday.

"Everybody recognizes that John loved that show. ... He'd have wanted the show to continue," Lloyd Braun, chairman of ABC Entertainment Television Group, told a telephone news conference.

Dear Mark,

This is your buddy John, writing to you from up in TV Heaven. Boy was I ever surprised to pop up here. It was just like poof, and there I was. All the TV legends are here, so as you can imagine, I was very pleased to make the cut.

Its true. I was beloved. And it was probably unfair of me to shuffle off to Buffalo at this trying time in American history. [Odd, isnt it? TV Heaven is actually located in Buffalo, but as my new best friend Rod Serling would say, a Buffalo of another dimension, beyond the signposts of Imagination and Broad Street, and then he just breaks up laughing. They have the best scotch in TV Heaven!] Still, when you gotta go, you gotta go.

I was talking to the Great One yesterday thats right, Mister Jackie Gleason and he told me John, the show must go on. You know how much you meant to all of the little people, you goofball. You added a little laughter to their lives. And you know what that means, dont you. Your work isnt quite done yet. Milton, get Braun on the red telephone, would you? (Wow! Milton Berle! My personal role model!)

There is no denying that I gave America the gift of laughter. I will be sorely missed. The country needs another season of "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter". That is, perhaps, the only way that the nation can reach a sense of closure.

It is true that I only had three episodes in the can before I departed, but let me assure you that they are three totally rib-tickling episodes. Some of the best work Ive done, in my opinion, since Hooperman. For the fourth show, my character will be played by David Duchovny, who really has a flare for comedy. Im told that his death I guess that should be my death no, wait, my characters death, will be portrayed sensitively, but that there will still be room for a chuckle or two. Tears and laughter. Such is life. ABC says that this could get the biggest ratings of the year. They plan on going to black for fifteen seconds at the end of the episode. What a great tribute. My heart is filled with gratitude for the industry.

So dry your tears, Mark. Im in a much better place now. I mean that literally the catering is terrific in TV Heaven, and the residuals never stop.

You friend,


p.s. I was going to look up Joyce DeWitt, but I found out that shes still alive! Who knew!


2003, Mark Hoback