In the Burbank set of the new Waltons reunion movie, John-Boy (Richard Thomas), his lovely bride, and about 50 guests straight out of Kennedy's Camelot gather for a wedding in the Waltons' hometown chapel. There's only one hitch to this hitching: A baby gets born mid-ceremony. (Don't worry, it's not John-Boy's child.) ''Let's get out of here before someone else starts breeding!'' Thomas quips as he and the new TV missus dash out the door.
Tired of gritty reality dramas? Got a hankering for kinder, gentler TV, chock-full of old-fashioned family values? You could try C-SPAN. Or, on Feb. 12, you could turn to CBS for A Walton Wedding, just in time for Valentine's Day (and sweeps month). You remember the Waltons, that perky Depression-to-World War II-era Virginia clan who, from 1972 to 1981 on CBS, bested poverty and disease to become one of America's best-loved Fully Functional Families.
The first reunion of the wholesome tensome was 1993's A Walton Thanksgiving. The season's third-highest-rated TV movie, it revolved around the assassination of JFK. The new film is centered around another monumental event: John-Boy or is that John-Man? finally ties the knot. ''He's a writer, so he spent a lot of time alone,'' says Kami Cotler (sister Elizabeth). John-Boy's unlikely intended is Janet (Kate McNeil), a glamorous fashion editor from New York City.
But John-Boy almost didn't make it to the altar. CBS initially wanted to delay the project, believing that reunion number one had satisfied viewers' curiosity about the Waltons' fates. ''There was a concern that it wouldn't do as well as the first one,'' says Gregg Maday, a Warner Bros. senior vice president. ''But when the other networks expressed interest, CBS came back and said, 'We'd love to do it.' ''
Executive producer Rich Heller thinks CBS execs will be glad they changed their minds: ''It's like Rhoda's wedding, or Tiny Tim's. We're talking about America's favorite boy-next-door getting married.'' We're also talking about a better script this time, according to many cast members. ''I don't think they knew what to do with us last time.It was a bit belabored,'' says Ralph Waite (patriarch John Walton). Adds Thomas: ''Last time I could only come in for four days. It was a hallucinatory experience....Now I have scenes with everybody. It has that old, ensemble feel.''
Does all this good feeling mean there'll be more trips to the mountain? Maday bubbles, ''We're hoping for a franchise a new Waltons movie every year.'' In that case, Thomas (who in real life married for the second time last November), has a suggestion: ''How about: John-Boy's Divorce?''