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`Dharma & Greg' always finishes at a fast quip

Writer-producer Chuck Lorre, currently at the helm of the ABC comedy "Dharma & Greg" (Wednesday nights at 7:30 MST), is taking two seconds at the end of each episode to deliver comedy material exclusively to people who tape the show.

Lorre's innovation is a twist on the use of so-called vanity cards - visual displays at the end of TV shows that identify a producer's personal production company. David E. Kelley Productions ("Ally McBeal," "The Practice"), for example, animates a photo of Kelley's grandmother in a rocking chair.Lorre decided to use his two allotted seconds to spoof the practice, with text that's legible only when a tape of the show is paused during playback.

"Once again," the text begins, "thank you for videotaping `Dharma & Greg' and freeze-framing on my vanity card. I'd like to take this opportunity to share with you more of my beliefs . . . I believe that if you can't find anything nice to say about people whom you've helped to make widely successful and then they stabbed you in the back, then don't say anything at all. . . ." (Lorre previously worked on "Roseanne" and "Cybill.")

Last week's text, which appeared again this week, included the following: "I believe that in my earlier statement of beliefs, I erroneously believed that beer was a gateway drug that led to vodka. After intensive consultation with ABC executives, I now believe that I was very, very wrong. Beer is good. Especially beer brewed by major manufacturers and enjoyed in a responsible manner."

In an interview, Lorre said that ABC's broadcast standards department initially objected to his idea. "They said, `This is not the intent of what a vanity card is.' And then they said, `Well, nobody's ever done this before.' And then they said, `Well, what if every executive producer wanted to do this?"'

Lorre said they eventually agreed that using the two seconds to entertain the audience instead of stroking his own ego - "Give them a couple of freebies," as he put it - wasn't such a terrible thing. Especially after they straightened out that beer/vodka business.