NEW YORK – ABC officials and the producers of John Ritter's show "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" (search) might write the actor's death into the show, burying his character and turning his on-air wife, Katy Sagal (search), into the star, according to ABC sources.
The plan would include adding another character to the show, possibly a relative. Network officials are said to be considering several different ways to deal with Ritter's death.
Among the various options ABC officials are weighing are the possibility of airing the three episodes Ritter and the rest of the cast already filmed this summer. The fourth episode would pick up immediately after his character's death and show how the family deals with it.
ABC officials declined to comment yesterday.
Meanwhile Ritter's sudden death continues to rattle the TV industry:
* ABC will air a special one-hour tribute to the actor, hosted by Diane Sawyer (search), instead of airing back-to-back repeats of "8 Simple Rules" it had originally scheduled.
* Ritter's death did not have a major impact on the production schedule of CBS "Joan of Arcadia" (search) a new drama slated to debut Sept. 26th, which stars his son, Jason, as the older brother of the show's main character.
By last Thursday when Ritter died, Jason Ritter had finished filming all the scenes he was slated to appear in for the show's fifth episode. He's not needed back at work for several weeks.