ARNOLD'S 15 MINUTES MAY BE NEARLY UP

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Lucky for you, Tom Arnold: The fat lady has stopped singing-for now.

And yes, she would be Mr. Arnold's sitcom superstar wife, the former Roseanne Barr, who last week stole media time and space away from Bosnia, South Korea and Whitewater by trying to divorce her husband, charging infidelity and physical abuse, then abruptly yielding to his reconciliation efforts.

The way in which the Arnolds have boorishly chased the tabloid limelight has puzzled those who care about these things: Is this shameless and needless self-promotion or is it just typical Hollywood marriage hullabaloo?

If this was indeed more hot air from the Arnolds, then advertising, media and TV industries executives, in between yawns, say this latest episode proves that without Roseanne, Tom is nothing.

"Roseanne is clearly his meal ticket," said Iain Calder, president-editor in chief of the National Enquirer, which will feature the couple on this week's cover. "I see him sinking into obscurity, unless he can hook up with some other great creative person."

Conspiracy theorists have suggested the Arnold's outrageousness campaign may be an effort to sabotage their own burdensome celebrity. Yet such a strategy can't help Mr. Arnold, whose TV career has never taken off despite his wife's name and best threats.

"Look at his track record. It speaks for itself. He had one show that failed on ABC [`The Jackie Thomas Show'], and he's got another [`Tom'] that looks like it's failing on CBS," said one senior Big 3 executive.

If he's looking for a new line of work, Steve Hayden, chairman-chief creative of ficer at BBDO Worldwide, Los Angeles, has a suggestion: commercial spokesman. "He could do a Miller Lite ex-celebrity campaign or an American Express `Do you know me?' spot."

Hoax or no, the impact on Ms. Arnold's career appears negligible. Even her ugliest antics, apparently, can't obscure her talent or weaken the clout she has amassed.

And why is that? Here's Mr. Hayden's take: "If you look at America as a nation of victims, it's no wonder she's a star. She's the only American who can provide a whole month's worth of `Geraldos,' from repressed memory to child abuse, drug addiction and alcoholism to liposuction and obesity.'

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