Sources on the set of thirtysomething say the show’s producers are contemplating a live episode for next season, with a plot involving the circumcision of the new baby boy born to Hope and Michael (played by Mel Harris and Ken Olin). ”Absolutely absurd,” insists thirtysomething producer Richard Kramer. ”We’re not planning any such thing.” Maybe not, but the show’s staff has been coy about upcoming plot twists before: Last year they issued equally emphatic denials about Nancy’s then-rumored bout with cancer, which became one of the dominant story lines last spring.
CALLING ALL CARS
After 15 years on the shelf, Dick Tracy cartoons are making a controversial comeback on the airwaves; the animated ’60s series began appearing on dozens of independent stations across the country last month, after the release of Warren Beatty’s blockbuster movie. But not everybody is happy to see the straight-arrow detective back in action. Asian and Hispanic groups are charging that characters like the buck-toothed Joe Jitsu and the sombrero-wearing Go Go Gomez are offensive stereotypes. Two TV stations — KCAL in Los Angeles and Fox affiliate WNYW in New York — pulled the show from the air, and UPA Productions, which created and distributes the series, is offering the stations edited versions with offending characters removed. ”This whole controversy is just ridiculous,” insists Henry G. Saperstein, chairman of UPA. ”Joe Jitsu and Go Go Gomez are wonderful role models. They’re good, clean cops. They don’t take bribes and they don’t get indicted. They do their jobs and catch the bad guys.” Besides, he adds, ”we’re not dealing with 2 Live Crew. It’s just a cartoon, for goodness’ sake.”
Next month the Discovery Channel will launch a six-week series devoted to one of mankind’s most inspired creations: beer. From Great Britain to Czechoslovakia, from Berlin to San Francisco, The Beer Hunter will traverse the globe in quest of the perfect brew. The show’s host is Englishman Michael Jackson, author of such books as The New World Guide to Beer and The Simon & Schuster Pocket Guide to Beer. ”I am the world’s leading authority on beer,” Jackson claims. ”But this is the first time I’ve ever done a TV show on the subject.” The author sometimes found the transition to video difficult: ”We were taping at this beer festival in Belgium,” he recalls, ”and every few minutes somebody would put a liter of beer in my hand. I didn’t get blotto or anything, but it took several takes before I could pronounce Reinheitsgebot” (German for beer-purity laws).
LOVITZ IS LEAVING
”It feels like I’m graduating from high school,” comedian Jon Lovitz told Entertainment Weekly about his decision to leave NBC’s Saturday Night Live. ”It’s a hard thing to do, but my contract expired and I wanted to pursue a movie career.” Lovitz joined SNL in 1985, creating some of the show’s most popular recent characters, including the pathological liar Tommy Flanagan. He has already had a supporting role in My Stepmother Is an Alien (1988) and will costar with Jim Belushi in a comedy called Mr. Destiny, set for release in October. This August he’ll start filming his biggest role yet. ”The movie is called Mom and Dad Save the World,” he says. ”I play this guy who runs a planet named Spango — it’s a small planet, about the size of Catalina. And I’m going to destroy the earth, but I fall in love with an earthling played by Teri Garr…” Yeah, Teri Garr, that’s the ticket.
ONE SMALL STEP FOR TV
Another great moment in the annals of cable history: This August, the Movie Channel is running 418 feature films, the most ever shown in a single month on a single channel. “We wanted to help viewers survive the dog days of summer,” says Alan Zapakin, TMC’s vice president of program operations. “So we came up with this movie marathon idea-the ultimate antidote to summer reruns.” Among the films scheduled to run: 11 hours of detective movies (including 1943’s Crime Doctor and 1988’s Gotham), 13 hours of sci-fi films (1953’s It Came from Outer Space, 1988’s They Live), and 13 hours of sports movies (1969’s Downhill Racer, 1989’s No Holds Barred). “Viewers can watch 744 consecutive hours and never see the same movie twice,” Zapakin says. “Of course, by then, they may be seeing everything twice.”