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The Morning News from Wilmington, Delaware • Page 200

The Morning Newsi
Wilmington, Delaware
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P4 Sunday News Journal, Wilmington, Feb. 1, 1987 'Designing Women' poised to do its Sunday best Designing the Sunday MMS" I mm VV ill TSr Annie Potts she arrived at a posh Hollywood restaurant with a bottle of champagne. At Thomason's suggestion, she was accompanied by Delta Burke, the only one of the show's actresses in town that day. Grant, in what he calls "a joke" and a "publicity stunt," says he proceeded to complain about the deluge of letters and the temerity of the women. "I told them my secretary threatened to quit.

I said, 'I think you should all go back to the kitchen and leave me "I did say he'd have to pry the show out of my dead hands," Burke says with a laugh. Burke says she was surprised by Hall's quiet aplomb. "I expected a stronger presence, someone older. Here's this little thing, so sweet, polite, nice and soft-spoken." The next day, the cast received a call that a limousine was waiting to take them over to CBS' executive offices. "Bud Grant wants to see you," they were told.

According to Burke, "We marched up to those offices and everyone thanked us for coming. Bud came out and was very nice. He had flowers, champagne and candy waiting." As the women posed for pictures with Grant in a big room, a screen was removed to reveal the new CBS schedule with Delta Burke during "the most beautiful snowstorm since I was a child, and it was the best thing that happened to us all year," she says. "Harry made up his mind he was going to save the show for me. He went back to California shot out of a cannon." The first thing he did was contact Swanson and Hall.

"If I were a candidate for president," says a grateful Harry Thomason, "I'd consider getting those two women on board." Swanson's organization, Viewers for Quality Television, came into being two years ago when she and other supporters of CBS' "Cagney Lacey" mounted the letter-writing campaign that helped bring it back on the air. "I never thought I would feel this strongly about a show again," Swanson said. An arc of promise, disappointment and anger characterized the tumultuous life of "Designing Women." After its Monday-night premiere, it was CBS' first clear hit of the 1986 fall season, with ratings as high as No. 16 and audience shares ranging from 22 percent to 28 percent. The show was in 21st place Nov.

24 when the Thomasons got word from CBS that it was being moved to Thursday nights at 9:30, opposite NBC's highly rated "Night Court." By JUDY FLANDER Los Angeles Times HOLLYWOOD After a roller-coaster ride in the ratings that catapulted "Designing Women" out of the CBS schedule after its airing on New Year's Day, the comedy resumes tonight at 9 to finish out the season. It's a choice spot, right after "Murder, She Wrote," which has regularly been in the Top 10. "We wanted 'Designing Women' back on, and in its original time slot," says the show's creator, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, who now is more than satisfied. "We have a time period we deserved." Bloodworth-Thomason, the show's co-executive producer and writer, credits the quick return of "Designing Women" to her husband and co-executive producer, Harry Thomason, who sparked several drives. They included letter-writing and press-alerting campaigns led by Dorothy Swanson, co-founder of Viewers for Quality Television; the efforts of Phyllis Hall, a Los Angeles receptionist who heads a "Designing Women" fan club; and a groundswell of mail from outraged viewers.

Reportedly, more than 50,000 letters have poured in. Bloodworth-Thomason is the sole writer for "Designing Women," which stars Delta Burke, Dixie Carter, Annie Potts and Jean Smart as four outspoken single Southern women who run Sugarbaker's, an interior design company in Atlanta. Mostly they are a mutual support and comfort society. The show is unusual in its use of humor to portray female bonding, and that was one of the chords that touched the viewers who came to its rescue. In tonight's show, Mary Jo (Annie Potts) takes some of her ex-husband's vitamins.

"You know they lose their potency after awhile," remarks Charlene (Jean Smart). "That's OK, so did he," quips Mary Jo. Because of "Designing Women's" irreverent view of patronizing, chauvinistic or smug men, it has sometimes been tarred as "feminist." Top tens The week's lists are based on national figures compiled by leading industry publications. Hot single records Open Your Heart, Madonna At This Moment, Billy Vera The Beaters Livm' on a Prayer, Bon Jovi Change of Heart, Cyndi Lauper Touch Me, Samantha Fox Land of Confusion, Genesis Keep Your Hands to Yourself, Georgia Satellites Someday, Glass Tiger Will You Still Love Me', Chicago We're Ready, Boston Top albums 1. 2.

3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

8. 9. 10. Slippery When Wet, Bon Jovi Different Light, Bangles Night Songs, Cinderella Licensed to III, Beastie Boys The Way It Is, Bruce Hornsby The Range Third Stage, Boston Huey Lewis The News Bruce Springsteen The Street Band Live 1975-85, Bruce Springsteen Control, Janet Jackson True Blue, Madonna Country singles 1 Leave Me Lonely, Gary Morris 2. Half Past Forever, T.G.

Sheppard 3. How Do I Turn You On, Ronnie Milsap 4. I'll Come Back as Another Woman, Tanya Tucker 5. Straight to the Heart, Crystal Gayle 6. Right Hand Man, Eddy Raven 7.

Fire in the Sky, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band 8. I Can Win for Losin' You, Earl Thomas Conley 9 p.m. slot. For a woman who writes so penetratingly about and for women, it might come as a surprise to some that Bloodworth-Thomason's family role models were mostly men. "I had a rip-roaring grandfather," she says.

There are also her father, three uncles and her "Papa Bear" husband of three years. Her grandfather helped her develop "an appreciation for originality." He was a newspaper editor, a self-taught attorney and a civil rights activist in Arkansas. He died in 1956 (when she was 9) of natural causes and not the bullets in the chest he received compliments of the Ku Klux Klan. "My grandfather was a very romantic figure to me," she says, smiling. "They used to try cases in the courtroom and afterward go outside and beat the marshmallows out of each other." Bloodworth-Thomason's father was one of four brothers, all of whom followed her grandfather into the legal profession.

"My Dad was a very dashing figure to me. He was a star in the courtroom. He walked to work every day and when I asked him why, he said it was because all the women came out of their houses to tell him how handsome he was." It's obviously not accidental that the "Designing Women" are Southern, and their author believes that that gives the sitcom a further excuse for outrageousness. It comes with the territory. Three of the four actresses in "Designing Women," Burke, Carter and Potts are, like Bloodworth-Thomason, Southerners.

Bloodworth-Thomason was more interested in writing than lawyering. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Missouri, was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and the law review Los Angeles Daily Journal and taught English for a couple of years. Her television writing includes episodes of "MAS'H," "Rhoda" and "Paper Moon." She created and wrote for CBS' "Filthy Rich," with Burke and Carter, and ABC's "Lime Street," with Robert Wagner, which she co-produced with her husband. rustal .1. anceClub Sparkle In Your Alligators in New York City's sewers? Vanishing hitchikers? nmm mora separates the fact from the fiction.

Movies Critical Condition Platoon Star Trek IV Crocodile Dundee The Golden Child 6. Bedroom Window 7. Little Shop of Horrors 8. Wanted Dead or Alive 9. Crimes of the Heart 10.

The Morning After Source: Variety Jean Smart "Designing Women" fell like a stone to near the bottom of the ratings. Out of some 70 shows, it came in at No. 59, No. 65 and No. 59, respectively, in the first three of its four Thursday-night outings.

Ironically, when it was pulled from the schedule Jan. 1, it had shot up to No. 21 and had a 28 share of the audience. Why was the show moved in the first place? According to B. Donald "Bud" Grant, CBS Entertainment president, the plan was to include it in some "offbeat scheduling" to compete against NBC's Thursday powerhouse comedy block.

Grant admits it was a mistake. "As soon as I saw it wasn't working, I pulled it off," he says. "I didn't want to damage 'Designing When the producers and stars were told that the show was going on hiatus and would return the end of March or early April, they went into shock. They'd all been with shows where the word hiatus spelled finis. And even if "Designing Women" did come back, it would be near the end of the season, when its chances for survival would be slim to nil.

Phyllis Hall decided to take Grant to lunch and plead her case for "Designing Women." On Jan. 6, Television 1. Super Bowl XXI, CBS 2. The Cosby Show, NBC 3. Family Ties, NBC 4.

Super Bowl Postgame Show, CBS 5. Cheers, NBC 6. The Golden Girls, NBC 7. The Tortellis, NBC 8. Moonlighting, ABC 9.

(tie) Growing Pains, ABC 9. (tie) Who's the ABC Source: A.C. Nielsen Returns! Opera House, Wilmington, DE paft by grants from the Delaware State Arts and the National Endowment tor the Arts Dixie Carter Feminism "a no-no word at the networks" has been wrongly interpreted to mean "that women are bitter, unhappy and anti-male," Bloodworth-Thomason says. The stars of her show "are women who like men." Bloodworth-Thomason, 40, is a sweet-faced woman who "loves what I believe feminism really is, and that is living up to your female potential in every way. Feminism isn't a war between men and women.

We can all join hands." Strong, important issues are on her agenda. In tonight's show an hour special the women insist that Charlene get a second opinion when her doctor assures her that the lump in her breast is not malignant and that she needn't come back for six months. "That's what happened to my mother-in-law," Bloodworth-Thomason says, angered. Harry Tho-mason's mother died of breast cancer Christmas Eve. The Thomasons had a very bad year in 1986.

Both their mothers had been terminally ill during the creation of "Designing Women." Bloodworth-Thomasan's mother died Nov. 24. After Christmas, the Thomasons spent two days in front of the fire in her family home in Poplar Bluff, 9. Mornin' Ride, Lee Greenwood 10. You Still Love Me, Dan Seals Soul singles 1.

Candy, Cameo 2. Falling, Melba Moore 3. Have You Ever Loved Somebody, Freddie Jackson 4. Jimmy Lee, Aretha Franklin 5. As We Lay, Shirley Murdock 6.

Come Share My Love, Miki Howard 7. C'est La Vie, Robbie Nevil 8. Big Fun, The Gap Band 9. Ballerina Girl, Lionel Richie 10. Situation No.

9, Club Nouveau Source: Billboard Videocassette rentals 1. Short Circuit 2. Cobra 3. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 4. Poltergeist II: The Other Side 5.

Maximum Overdrive 6. Down and Out in Beverly Hills 7. The Manhattan Project 8. The Money Pit 9. 9V2 Weeks 10.

Raw Deal Videocassette sales 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

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