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''That '70s Show'' will live on, without Topher Grace

”That ’70s Show” will live on, without Topher Grace — He’ll be gone next year, and Ashton Kutcher will appear only occasionally

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That ’70s Show, which has lasted almost as long as the actual 1970s, will continue for another season, despite some major cast defections and the show’s ratings slide this season. Variety reports that Fox is preparing to renew the series, even though star Topher Grace has said he’s leaving at the end of this season when his contract is up. (”I never cry, like ever. Even at Finding Nemo,” the 26-year-old actor told People while promoting his current film, In Good Company. ”But I’m going to just lose it” when his final episode tapes, he told the magazine.) And Ashton Kutcher, who’s had the most successful extracurricular career of all the cast members, is expected to return only part-time as he concentrates on his production company and his movie career.

Another sign of age for the sitcom, which launched in 1998: It’s lost 35 percent of its audience in the past year, down to 6.5 million viewers a week, according to Nielsen. The show ranks 82nd in primetime this season, thanks largely to competition from a new rival in its timeslot, ABC’s hit Lost. Still, keeping the show alive for another year adds to the already tall stack of episodes in syndication, where the show does well. So money from reruns will probably keep rolling in through the 2070s.