James Komack, producer of NBC's "Chico and the Man," said yesterday that the series will continue despite the suicide last week of the show's co-star, 22-year-old comedian Freddie Prinze.
"We're going ahead with the Chico show," Komack said. "Freddie would not want to stop the show." The decision was made this morning, he said, after consulation with NBC executives and three members of the east - Jack Albertson, Della Reese and Scatman Crothers.
Komack said no attempt would be made to recast the Chico part played by Prinze. Instead, another young character may be introduced to establish a close relationship with the show's other star, Albertson.
"I have to work out basically how to do this dramatically," Komack explained. "We'll probably bring someone in - a little girl or a little boy - maybe there won't be another 22-year-old Chicano.
Komack said the changes in the show will not be seen until later this spring because there are still five previously recorded episodes still to be shown.
Although the Chico role will be phased out - exactly how is still underdecided - the show will retain its original name. "That's the name of the show, it's already been ingrained in the audience and we'll keep it," Komack said.