JIB WEDNESDAY. MAY 2O. 1998 TELEVISION THE SALINA JOURNAL V FALL SEASON Fact and fiction plans ABC to merge newsmagazines, add 'Fantasy Island' By DAVID BAUDER The Associated Press 'NEW YORK — ABC announced Tuesday that it will merge its twin newsmagazines, add eight new series and return to "Fantasy Island" in the fall in h6pes of reversing its sagging fortunes. 'Actor Peter Gallagher and the Olsen twins star in two new comedies arid comedian Chris Rock will produce "The Hughleys," a sitcom about a black family coping with sudden success. ' [ ABC, which will finish a distant third behind NBC arid CBS in the network ratings this year, clearly needs a better batting average on its new shows. Of the 1'Onew series the network debuted in September, only '• Bharma & Greg" made the schedule for next fall. •'In addition to "Ellen," which exited noisily earlier this month, ABC dropped Dan Aykroyd's "Soul Man" and "Something So Right." .Modeling itself after the "Dateline NBC" franchise, ABC will merge "PrimeTime Live" and "20/20" into one newsmagazine with the name "20/20." It will air on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday nights, and likely add a Monday edition when "Monday Night Football" ends its season. 'Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, Sam Donaldson, Hugh Downs, Connie Chung and Charles Gibson will b£ hosts of "20/20," although ABC didn't specify who will be the host each night. 'The new "Fantasy Island" will look different from show that ran from 1978 to 1984. Malcolm McDowell replaces Ricardo Montalban as Mr. Roarke, and he favors gray Armani instead of white suits. As for Tattoo, "he's history," ABC said. ! .ABC will move "Home Improvement," a one-time top 10 show whose ratings have faded, up to 7 p.m. Tuesdays. "Spin City" will switch from Wednesdays to 1 Tuesdays at 8 p.m. "Dharma & Greg" and "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place" both get new times on Wednesday nights. ABC's other new shows include: ; "Brother's Keeper" is a comedy about an English f RATINGS The Associated Press Actor Malcolm McDowell will star in an updated version of the classic television series, "Fantasy Island," this fall on ABC. professor raising his 8-year-old son. Their lives are disrupted when the professor's brother, a professional football player, moves in with them. • "Cupid" is a romantic comedy from the producer of "My So-Called Life." Actor Trevor Hale plays Cupid, sentenced to "do time" on Earth by uniting 100 couples. • "Mr. Chapel" stars Michael Madsen as a crime victim who devotes his time to obtaining justice for other victims. • "Sports Night" is a comedy about a team that puts together a nightly cable sports show. Former "Benson" star Robert Guillaume is featured; Cellular One Introduces super saver air fares. New PCS rate plans with up to 50% more minutes. 'Seinfeld': Master of its domain Departing sitcom ends season as top-rated show on television By DAVID BAUDER T]i,eAssociated Press I NEW YORK — The blockbuster final episode of "Seinfeld" nailed down the series' claim as the yqar's top-rated show. "Seinfeld" and the season-ending episode of "ER" also combined to, help NBC to another easy one- week victory during the crucial May "sweeps" period, when ratings are measured to set advertising rates. The Thursday night hits have been television's top two shows for.four seasons in a row. ..•'Seinfeld" was the top-rated show during the 1994-95 season, but it finished second to "ER" in each of.the next two seasons. "ER" was in the lead for much of this year, until the final two episodes of "Seinfeld" drew the comedy its highest ratings ever. •TThe 1997-98 season ends Wednesday. ''Through last week, "Seinfeld" had a season rating of 22.0, while "E'R" had a 20.7 rating. Thursday's "Seinfeld" had a whopping 41.3 rating and 58 share, drawing an estimated 76 million viewers, Nielsen Media Research said Tuesday. By contrast, "Touched By an Angel," the week's fourth-rated sljpw — No. 2 was a "Seinfeld" retrospective and "ER" was No. 3 — Had only 20 million viewers. j For the week, NBC had a 12.1 rating and 21 share. CBS was second with a 9.2 rating and 16 share, followed by struggling ABC at 7.1 a(nd 12, and Fox's 6.8 and 12. 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