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HARMON’S CHARACTER TO GET AIDS

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Times Staff Writer

Television’s next prominent AIDS victim will be Dr. Robert Caldwell, the character played by Mark Harmon on NBC’s prime-time hospital drama, “St. Elsewhere.”

Series executive producer Bruce Paltrow currently is directing Harmon’s final episode, in which the womanizing Caldwell has contracted acquired immune deficiency syndrome via a heterosexual relationship.

Paltrow and other series executives were not available for comment Friday, but a spokesman for MTM Enterprises, which produces the show, said that Harmon’s last episode will air Feb. 5.

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Peter Giagni, vice president of Agency for the Performing Arts, which represents Harmon, said that the actor decided to leave the show because “his career is taking off.” Though Giagni declined to comment on the AIDS plot line, he said that “NBC and MTM have been tremendously supportive and cooperative” in writing Harmon out of the series.

Harmon recently completed “Prince of Bel-Air,” an ABC made-for-TV movie scheduled to air early next year, and is set to appear in the film “Let’s Get Harry” for Tri-Star Pictures.

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