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A kiss is but a kiss; Roseanne is a mouthful

The look on her face was one of shock, disgust and anger. For once, Roseanne was speechless.

Not Roseanne Connor, but the real Roseanne Arnold.

Nobody likes to make Rosie mad. Certainly not in Hollywood, where only Macaulay Culkin can out-scream La Roseanne.

Threats. Tantrums. Talk show revelations. It's been a long month for ABC, as it battled Arnold over a controversial episode of her popular show.

Tonight on Roseanne, she'll reign victorious when ABC airs, uncut, a kiss by Mariel Hemingway.

Even with an obligatory "parental discretion" advisory, tonight's Roseanne signifies how much power Roseanne and Tom Arnold exercise in Hollywood.

Although ABC had serious qualms about the episode, in which Roseanne Connor visits a gay bar and is kissed by Hemingway, the network finally gave in to the Arnolds' threats that they would take their top-rated show elsewhere.

Ratings translate into power in television. With her show a resilient resident in the Top 5, Roseanne is allowed to trot out controversial plot lines and deliver ultimatums.

Don't forget that as the Arnolds were negotiating about the famous kiss tiff, they were also discussing Roseanne Arnold's new three-year contract. Not a network to kiss off profits, the kiss stayed and so did Roseanne.

The controversy has been more sensational than the actual episode (which is a thoughtful look at alternative lifestyles). With their penchant for headlines, the Arnolds' feisty front-line stance have kept them in a spotlight they love so much. The objection here is not to the subject matter, but to the subjects, themselves.

Consider: In the last three months, Roseanne and Tom said they would marry their publicist, then 'fessed up that it was a stunt. On a serious note, Roseanne admitted her bisexuality and that she used to be a prostitute and told Oprah Winfrey she has up to 20 multiple personalities that forces Tom out of the house at times. Add to that earlier revelations about childhood sexual abuse, drug addiction and numerous tattoos. Roseanne is honest, but her public therapy sessions are becoming painful to watch.

This year's extensive facial reconstruction gave her such a new look that at times she is unrecognizable.

Roseanne Arnold is, without doubt, a success. A fearful, powerful force that Hollywood must placate.

Until the ratings drop.

Then, Roseanne will be left alone. With tattoos, a new face and the personal demons of a troubled woman.

ON TELEVISION

Roseanne

Tonight at 9 on ABC, WTSP-Ch. 10. Parental discretion advised.

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