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ABC cancels 'Moonlighting'

By JOAN HANAUER, UPI Feature Writer

NEW YORK -- ABC cancelled its faltering 'Moonlighting' series Monday, with the final episode airing Sunday, May 14.

The show has been troubled by production problems and lack of original episodes, in part because of the dialogue-intensive scripts.

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There also have been reports of disagreements and fights involving stars Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis, and Glenn Caron, the creator of 'Moonlighting' and, until this past season, its executive producer.

In a statement, Shepherd said, ''Moonlighting' was a wonderful opportunity; it brought me great success. I enjoyed playing the character of Maddie Hayes and I'm sorry that it's over.'

In the 1988-89 season, complicated by the Writers Guild strike, there were only 12 original episodes. Most series traditionally offer 26 original episodes, although in recent years that sometimes has been cut to 22.

'It's always sad to say goodbye,' Caron said when asked his feelings about the cancellation. 'It didn't come as a total surprise - the ratings hadn't been what they used to be.'

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Caron said the popular theory that the show had declined in popularity because of too many rerun episodes did not apply this season, at least, because there were none. He cited the show's new time period - Sundays at 8 p.m. Eastern time -- as part of the problem, and added:

'I think it's like a meal, When we were hitting 'em out of the park, I think America sat down and really enjoyed us. ... At a certain point America just pushed back from the table and said, 'Well, we've had enough of that.''

As for fights, he said, 'In the main it was a very happy set. There were moments, incidents, of course, but it's like a family. ... There are fights in every family, aren't there?'

Willis issued a statement saying he would like to thank personally everyone who ever watched the show, adding, 'TV by its very nature is cyclical and it would be foolish to expect 'Moonlighting' to continue indefinitely.'

Jay Daniel, who succeeded Caron as executive producer, said, 'When they write the book about 'Moonlighting,' it should begin with, 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.' I'm very proud of some of the work we did over the past four-and-a-half years; it was very gratifying to be part of a hit series.'

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'Moonlighting' premiered March 3, 1985, and the off-beat relationship between icy beauty Maddie Hayes and brash conman David Addison made it a major hit for ABC.

The romantic comedy wound up 24th in the Nielsen ratings for 1985-86, its first full season. It finished ninth the following year, then tied for 12th for 1987-88. For the 1988-89 season, which ended last month, 'Moonlighting' came in 47th among regularly scheduled network shows.

For 'Moonlighting' fans, the story line for the final episode, according to ABC, reads:

'Maddie and David are thrilled when they hear the happy news that Agnes and Burt are finally getting married. But after David's love affair with Annie (Virgina Madsen) is dealt a serious blow, he and Maddie once again are forced to take a close look at their own relationship.'

The ABC Entertainment announcement of the cancellation said in part:

'We feel the show has reached a creative conclusion and that this is the appropriate time to end the series.

'We are quite proud of the innovation which 'Moonlighting' brought to television during the past four years and appreciative of the program's tremendous contribution to ABC's program schedule during that time.'

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