Production on ABC's "The Drew Carey Show" will continue while the series star recovers from last week's heart surgery.
"We've just altered our production," series executive Bruce Helford said Monday.
On Friday, Carey underwent an angioplasty to clear a blocked artery, after suffering intense chest pains while working on the show.
"We were really lucky, the timing of it," Helford said.
"He was headed for a massive coronary. He said now he feels like he's 10 years younger."
This week, the cast and crew of the show were set to begin shooting the new season's first episode, which involves guest appearances by the bands Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, Uncle Kracker, SheDaisy and such guests as Nickelodeon's Amanda Bynes.
Now, the producers will shoot the band sequences without Carey.
"We figure we'll see Drew at the end of the week," Helford said. "We've just shifted some things around."
So far, Carey's recovery is not expected to delay the show's fall launch or result in dramatic alteration of his workload once he does return.
"We love him, we are certainly not going to overtax him," Helford said.
Plans for the season-opening episode, "Drew Carey's Back to School Rock 'n' Roll Comedy Hour," include Carey's appearance in one dance number, Helford said. That won't be shot until Carey gets a doctor's OK.
Carey was working with the show's writers Thursday when he began feeling chest pains. He left the writers and headed to his trailer on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, Calif., where he called a producer for help.
He was transferred by ambulance to a local hospital.
"It hurt ...," Helford said. "He was in major distress."
In the show, now entering its seventh season, Carey plays an assistant director of personnel in a department store. The show averaged 11.8 million viewers last season, putting it 41st among all shows. Show producer Warner Bros. TV and ABC recently signed a deal to keep "The Drew Carey Show" on the air through the 2003-04 season. Carey will make $750,000 per episode under the contract.
In addition, he's the host of ABC's "Whose Line Is It Anyway," also renewed through the 2003-04 season.
It's possible, Helford said, that Carey's brush with heart surgery could become fodder for the show.
"If I know Drew, yeah it will," Helford said. "And I know him."