Three Broadway shows are headed for TV in the 1990-91 season; the sets may look smaller, but the seats are a lot cheaper. Vanessa Redgrave will reprise her role as a love-starved shopkeeper in a small Southern town in a 2 1/2 hour filmed version of Tennessee Williams’ Orpheus Descending, to air on TNT. American Playhouse will offer Bernadette Peters returning as the witch in the Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods next fall. And plans reportedly are under way for a TV version of the current revival of Gypsy. Tyne Daly stars in the musical, which opened in November.
Last month, CBS said it was negotiating with ”three of television’s biggest stars” to appear in prime-time series next season. One of the mystery celebs has now been identified: Cagney & Lacey’s Sharon Gless, who will return to TV in Renewal, an hour-long drama series about a woman rebuilding her life after divorce. The two other big names remain unannounced.
Road to Bagdad
Jean Stapleton’s role as the stranded, newly single traveler Jasmine in the Friday CBS comedy Bagdad Cafe marks her first series since Edith Bunker behind in 1980. A decade later, she says, ”Five years [of commitment to a new series] suddenly didn’t seem like a long time.” Having turned down script after script about ”women locked in nursing homes and planning to escape,” Stapleton saw Percy Adlon’s 1988 cult comedy, Bagdad Cafe, and agreed to play the role created by Marianne Sägebrecht. ”Percy Adlon has seen four tapings,” she adds. ”I was afraid to confront him because [Sägebrecht] is his big star. But he was very pleasant. He knew we were different.”
We’ve heard of quick cancellations, but this one sets a record: CBS swung the ax at Triangle three weeks before its first episode even aired. The romantic drama, which was to replace Wiseguy, was shut down after a few weeks of shooting. The reason: ”creative differences.”
Despite the well-remembered failure of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories on NBC, Fox programmers still think there’s life in the idea of an adventure anthology series with big-name directors. So Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon), Walter Hill (48HRS.), and Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future and its sequels) will join producer Joel Silver to create Two-Fisted Tales for Fox next fall. The network promises ”an action-packed mini-feature film” each week.
Bugs Against Drugs
Pick a channel — any channel — and if it’s 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 21, you’ll probably see the same show. ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, USA Network, Nickelodeon, and the Disney Channel have all agreed to air Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue, a half-hour animated antidrug special presented by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences that boasts the largest cast of toons since Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Among those appearing: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Huey, Dewely, and Louie, Winnie the Pooh, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
When the producers of Fox’s The Outsiders decided to turn the 1983 movie into a series, they knew they would have to fill the void left by the death of the anithero played by Matt Dillon. Their solution: Bring on the rebel’s best friend. Robert Rusler says the hardest part of playing hard case Tim Shepard is learning the moves for this fight scenes; the easiest is going to makeup to achieve greaser hair. ”It takes three seconds,” he says. ”Squirt, and I’m outta there.”
The War at Home
If CBS’ low-rated Vietnam drama Tour of Duty returns for a fourth season next fall, viewers will see a very different series. Following a two-hour season finale on April 28, in which two soldiers end their tours and two others return home wounded, Tour will shift its focus to their readjustment to civilian life in Montana, Indiana, North Carolina, and the Bronx. Earlier this year, supervising producer Stephen Philip Smith says, CBS Entertainment chief Jeff Sagansky ”was interested in what would happen on the home front. So we’ll go in and pitch what we want to do, and see what happens.”