What CBS, producer Stephen Cannell, actor Ken Wahl and his agent have here is a failure to communicate--each, it appears, with all the others. Their mutual interest is the undercover-cop series, "Wiseguy," which CBS pulled from the prime-time schedule Tuesday with the promise that it will be remodeled and returned to the air next winter at mid-season. The announcement went on to say that Wahl, who has starred as agent Vinnie Terranova since the series debuted in 1987, will depart after appearing in the first two to four episodes to help segue to a new federal agent played by Steven Bauer.
Not true, Wahl told The Times on Thursday night through what sounded like gritted teeth: "The information was incorrect." He said he is out of the series.
But his agent, Bill Block of the InterTalent Agency, had told The Times only moments earlier that Wahl and creator Cannell are "working things out creatively."
That drew a laugh from Wahl, calling via modular phone from Mexico City, where he is making a film. "Well, that's news to me," he said. "I don't think so. They don't want me back on the show and that's fair enough. Cannell's the boss. It's his name on the building; he can do what he wants.
"But I don't feel obligated to introduce another character."
Cannell, one of TV's most prolific and successful writer-producers, is headquartered in his Cannell Building on Hollywood Boulevard and has built a studio in Vancouver, Canada, where "Wiseguy" episodes were shot.
Cannell said he will have no comment "other than I'm a Ken Wahl fan." A CBS spokesman said the network "won't be commenting on the situation."
Sources said that the show's entire writing and producing staff has moved on to other jobs and that new hiring is proceeding, with the key creative post being filled by Peter Lance, who has previously written for "Miami Vice" and "Crime Story."
One source said that the weekly episodes may have "more closure" than the usual cliffhanging "Wiseguys" have now, that there will be more action-adventure elements and that a woman may be added to the star cast.