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TV: Big Changes on CBS’s “Lassie”

Feb. 4, 1964 - Lassie, the dog whose show has more lives than a cat, may be without his young master, Timmy, when the new television season starts next fall. The show’s producers are considering a major change in format that would eliminate Timmy, played by Jon Provost (pictured in 1958), and his foster parents, portrayed by June Lockhart and Hugh Reilly.

This was confirmed today by Bonita Granville Wrather, the former actress who is associate producer of the show owned by her husband, Jack Wrather. In Los Angeles, she said: “We’re investigating several things. There is a possibility the boy will not be on the show next season, but we have no definite plans. Since my husband bought the show seven years ago, it has been upgraded and it may need some revitalizing now. We may give it more appeal for the adult audience.”

In last Sunday’s episode on CBS, the series began a five-part story in which Lassie met a new friend, a forest ranger played by Robert Bray. It has been rumored that the ranger may become the show’s new principal character next season.

“Lassie” has been on the same network at the same hour (7 to 7:30 p.m.) since it began in 1954. The Campbell Soup Company has been a sponsor from the beginning. Last season, “Lassie” presented its first five-part serial, and its Nielsen rating jumped into the top 10. In the latest national Nielsen, it is in 11th place.


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