ABC Cancels Mason Show, Announces Oprah Series

From Times Wire Services

ABC canceled Jackie Mason's sitcom "Chicken Soup" today and announced that next season Oprah Winfrey will produce and star in a series based on her "Brewster Place" miniseries.

"Chicken Soup," which will be replaced with last season's "Coach," spotlighted Mason's ethnic humor and proposed the unlikely romantic coupling of short, Jewish Mason and tall, British Lynn Redgrave. It was scheduled for its final airing tonight.

The show is the third dropout of the season's new shows. CBS previously canceled "The People Next Door" and NBC dropped "Nutt House."

"Chicken Soup" had one of the best sitcom slots on television, following the highly popular "Roseanne," but was not able to hang onto the "Roseanne" audience.

The show was also marred by Mason's association with the New York mayoral campaign of former federal prosecutor Rudolph Giuliani.

Mason, one-time honorary chairman of the Giuliani campaign, resigned in September over remarks he made about the GOP candidate's Democratic rival, David Dinkins, who is black. Among other things, the rabbi-turned-comedian said Jews would vote for Dinkins out of guilt.

Mason apologized for his remarks, which were reported by the Village Voice.

The comedian said he had learned that "what's funny on stage can be insensitive when it's said off the stage and in the world of politics. And for my insensitivity, I apologize."

Janice Gretemeyer, an ABC spokeswoman, said the network "has no comment on the reasons for the cancellation."

"Coach," a sitcom starring Craig T. Nelson as a college football coach whose daughter attends the school where he works, ran as a limited series last season.

ABC also announced today that Winfrey will produce and star in a new half-hour dramatic series, "Brewster Place," based on the highly successful miniseries "Women of Brewster Place" that ran on ABC last season. It will make its premiere in the spring of 1990.

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