ABC Says Givens’ Marital Strife No Problem

Times Staff Writer

Despite the publicity and controversy surrounding the marriage of heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and actress Robin Givens, it’s been business as usual on the set of Givens’ ABC television series, “Head of the Class.”

Michael Elias, co-executive producer of the show, said that Givens has not missed any tapings or rehearsals since the show went before the cameras in late August.

“Whatever’s going on in their personal lives has not affected her ability to perform on the show,” Elias said.


A spokeswoman for Warner Bros. Television said that this week’s script readings and rehearsals had taken place without incident, and that Givens appeared cheerful during conversations on the set. The show will tape tonight as scheduled before a studio audience.

Givens plays perfect-student Darlene Merriman, one of a group of superbrain students in a high school class whose teacher is played by Howard Hesseman.

The studio spokeswoman said that audiences for the most part had not expressed any special interest in Givens because of her marital troubles. She added that Friday night tapings of the show, which began Aug. 26, have proceeded as scheduled and that the studio has received no calls, letters or questions asking for information about the dispute between Givens and Tyson.

The well-documented Givens-Tyson marital troubles were news again this week with newspaper reports that Tyson had gone on a rampage at the couple’s New Jersey home following comments made by Givens and the actress’ mother, Ruth Roper, on ABC’s “20/20” series. Tyson was said to be angered by their description of him as having an “extremely volatile temper.” The new conflict followed months of reports of violent outbursts and erratic behavior on the part of Tyson, including a New York Post story that said that Tyson had chased Givens and Roper around their hotel room during a visit to Moscow when “Head of the Class” filmed episodes there in September.

Elias said he had not seen Tyson exhibit any unusual behavior in Moscow.

“What happened at the hotel, we have no knowledge of,” Elias said. “As far as Rich (Eustis, the other executive producer) and I were concerned, the guy was great the whole trip.”

He described Tyson’s accompanying the show to Moscow as “a positive experience” and said the producers “would be happy to have him along any time we’re on location.”