The Orlando Sentinel from Orlando, Florida on February 19, 1985 · Page 35
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The Orlando Sentinel from Orlando, Florida · Page 35

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Tuesday, February 19, 1985
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The Orlando Sentinel pX. .ry Repair-rate survey not a good guide Auto Q & A, D-3 . Tuesday, February 19, 1985 dfr- i NoelHolston TELEVISION Miniseries can't find a middle ground Sheeesh, is my face red. How could I have made a mistake like that? In Sunday's preview of ABC's Hollywood Wives, I called the miniseries "sleaze." Whatever was I thinking of? Nothing that moves that slowly deserves to be called sleaze. Sleaze implies a certain slipperi-ness and thus a certain quickness, the possibility of surprise. So kindly forgive my vocabular lapse. What I should have said is that Hollywood Wives is sludge. At least ABC's carnival-style, promise-'em-anything promos were accurate for a change. "Just when you thought nothing could shock you . . .," they teased. If anything, they were too modest. They didn't adequately prepare the viewer for the cold hash browns ABC made from Jackie Collins' hot potato of a novel. ABC's miniseries does earn the distinction of being the first of its breed without a single standout performance, not even a great camp tour de force like Michael Beck's nutso evangelist in last year's trash romp Celebrity. The only performance that is the least bit memorable is that of Anthony Hopkins as alcoholic director Neil Gray, and only because Hopkins always looks as if he's about to burst out laughing. And Hollywood Wives also raises anew a question about its genre namely, why can't there be more miniseries that tread a middle ground between zero-aspiration trash such as Wives and noble patience-testers such as The Jewel In the Crown, the current offering of PBS' Masterpiece Theatre? This may come as a blow to readers who've somehow convinced themselves that I automatically do back flips when I see anything to which the words "British" and "culture" can be attached, but I think The Jewel in the Crown is dreadfully slow. Sumptuous, yes. Richly textured, perceptive, enlightening, flawlessly acted by all means. But slow nonetheless. And for my first supporting witness I would call director David Lean, whose Academy Award-nominated movie A Passage to India tells a similar story and makes many of the same points in a fourth as many hours. Lean made a movie. Jewel's producers filmed a book. There is a critical difference. The concern here, however, is the failure of our networks and program producers to attempt anything remotely as ambitious as The Jewel in the Crown. Pace or lack thereof is the only count on which it can be criticized. Exquisite artistically, it also seeks to explain to a nation, with subtlety and detail, a lengthy, consequential, symbolic and much misunderstood chapter in its history the loss of colonial India. Roots and its sequel, both ABC anomalies, are probably the only American miniseries comparable to Jewel, but only in scope. Both productions, though the first one was particularly afflicted, suffered from the twin bugaboos of American miniseries inconsistent casting that is too often based on name recognition rather than acting ability and melodramatic plot gimmicks that are firmly grounded in Hollywood, not history. And for every Roots, there are two or three miniseries such as Ellis Island, which have nothing new to tell us and can't even be trusted to treat with honesty the superficial history they appropriate. Where's our Jewel in the Crown? Where is the miniseries that truly captures the flavor and fervor of our war for independence (no, CBS' George Washington wasn't it) or that distills the immigrant experience? Enough of this Hollywood Wives sludge. We haven't even had the definitive, unexpurgated Huckleberry Finn yet. TV listings, D-6 Kirk Douglas played an unscrupulous reporter in 'Big Carnival'; a scene from the 1931 'Front Page'; and Sally Field in 'Absence of Malice.'" Movie journalists the picture is changing By Jeff Kunerth OF THE SENTINEL STAFF Hildy Johnson probably would push his hat a bit farther back on his head, take a swig from the whiskey bottle in his bottom desk drawer and offer a cynical witticism concerning the ethical quandary that entangles Malcolm Anderson in the new newspaper movie The Mean Mean Season' avoids pitfalls of the typical cliched thriller l Movie review 'The Mean Season' Cast Kurt Russell, Richard Jordan, Mariel Hemingway Director: Phillip Borsos Screenwriter: Leon Piedmont CJnematographer: Frank Tidy . . Music: Lalo Schifrin Theaters: Winter Park Triple, Interstate Mall 6, Pine Hills Drive-in Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes Industry rating: R (restricted) Reviewer's evaluation: Reviewing key excellent, good, average, poor, awful L X, ' V. . P.: - &. l . ..... .rf-' s-fis -A r;:. CC.-' JUDY BAYEnLSENTINEL Frank Winters, Barbara Ishtar (seated), Joy Busk, Ron McDuffie and David Guggenbuehl. Cast does Agatha Christie to a tee By Elizabeth Maupin SENTINEL THEATER CRITIC Move Dallas or Dynasty to the rocky coast of Cornwall, make the appropriate changes in manners and mores and you're likely to come up with Towards Zero, the Central Florida Civic Theatre's talky, twisting murder mystery, which is as curious and convoluted as anything Alexis Carrington Colby Dexter or Agatha Christie could have devised. But it's hard to imagine the semi-stars of prime-time soaps carrying off this whodunit with as much aplomb as does the Civic Theatre cast, a cast whose every member seems more upper-crust, English and affronted than the next. This Agatha Christie thriller has the requisite English country house designed beautifully by E.F. Schulte the requisite cast 1 v 1 1 1 I I IT i THn r--n i Season. Anderson, a police reporter for the fictitious Miami Journal, finds himself personally involved in a story about a serial murderer who repeatedly calls him with information about the killings. Before long, Anderson is faced with the dilemma of whether the stories that he writes based on those calls constitute collaboration with the killer. In the days of Johnson, the By Jay Boyar SENTINEL MOVIE CRITIC ever underestimate technique. The Mean Season could easily have been either a crude exploitation flick about a deranged killer or a dreary sermon about journalistic ethics. But though the movie has elements of each, it's more effective than it deserves to be because director Phillip Borsos has a terrific technique. He twists the conventions of the thriller form to serve his vision of the story. Malcolm Anderson (Kurt Russell), a burned-out reporter for a fictitious newspaper called the 4 I vta Theater review 'Towards Zero' Cast Joy Busk, David Guggenbuehl, Lauren Winters, Charles Robert Collins, Frank Winters, June Matthews, Barbara Ishtar, Ron McDuffie, Robert Matthews, Sam Katulic, Gene Tate Director Michael Fortner Playwright Agatha Christie and Gerald Verner Theater: Edyth Bush Theatre, 1010 E. Princeton St., Orlando Timet: 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (also 8 p.m. Feb. 27-28 and March 1-2) of suspicious characters and, best of all, the requisite ending that takes the audience by surprise and shakes the laughter out of it. Towards Zero takes place in the grand, Italianate sunroom of the elderly Lady Camilla Tressilian's surmer house, where sundry ac main character in the 1931 film The Front Page, a movie reporter always became a part of the story he was covering, often catching the criminal himself. The newspaper movies of the 1930s and '40s, which established the genre, dealt with unethical behavior as either the accepted means of Getting The Story or the embodiment of evil that is justifiably punished in the end. Miami Journal, is at the center of that story. As the movie opens, his editor hands him an assignment that could change his life. At first it seems like a routine murder investigation, but that changes after Anderson's report is published. The murderer, a psychopath named Alan Delour (Richard Jordan), reads the article and is impressed with Anderson's literary style and journalistic ability. He calls the reporter and proposes a deal: Delour will continue to phone Anderson and provide inside information if Anderson will use his writing skills to chronicle the continuing story of the madman's serial murders. Please see MEAN, D-4 -ie nil quaintances have gathered for vacation. Among them are Neville Strange, an athletic gentleman who has been raised by Lady Camilla as a son; Kay Strange, Neville's opportunistic second wife; and Audrey Strange, Neville's vague first wife, who has agreed to try to become friendly with the present Mrs. Strange. Also on hand are Thomas Royde, a man who grew up with Neville and Audrey and who hopes to win Audrey over; Mathew Treves, a retired lawyer and family friend; Ted Latimer, a playboy friend of Kay's; and Mary Aldin, Lady Camilla's companion. The group shares the animosities usual in this kind of affair, and when Lady Camilla is found clubbed to death in her bed, it takes a Scotland Yard detective, two assistants and at least one amateur sleuth to find the perpetrator. Pleas see TOWARDS, D-8 Today's movies often deal with the question of journalistic ethics as a central theme or explore reporters' distress in facing the moral dilemmas of their profession. The 1981 film Absence of Malice revolved around a reporter who became sexually involved with the subject of a story she was covering. In pursuing that story, the reporter's paper, with v 1 1 ? :-: r r V,; -'V ' H :. ( i A Kurt Russell plays a reporter 'Newton's Apple' -street-level science By Denise Salvaggio OF THE SENTINEL STAFF Why is the sky blue? How does a video game work? Why do our teeth chatter when we're cold? Such questions usually are associated with curious children. But Ira Flatow is one adult who has the opportunity to ask them every week on his half-hour PBS science program Newton's Apple, which is seen locally at 6:30 p.m. Saturdays on WMFE-Channel 24. The man who swam with dolphins in Minnesota and was pinned against a wall by a jealous 1-ton walrus in San Diego was at Sea World in Orlando last week to film three segments for broadcast next season. The segments will deal with the training of whales and sea lions and the feeding habits of sharks. Flatow (which rhymes with Plato) also discussed Newton's Apple, which features several brief interviews and demonstrations with scientists during each episode. Based in Minneapolis at station KTCA, the program will enter its third season this fall to answer more fundamental questions and show how the world around us works. "I think the program takes the ivory-towerishness away from science," Flatow said. "The scientists themselves don't see their work as ivory tower they see science as a method of finding the truth. On the show, we try to get people involved in a little of that search for what makes things work, about what the world that we live in is like." Besides explaining their research, Flatow says, the scientists on Newton's Apple deliver a more subtle message. "By bringing scientists on the questionable justification and scant discussion, published the name of a woman who had had an abortion. The woman subsequently committed suicide. The 1983 film Under Fire explored the unethical behavior of a photographer who became sympathetic to Nicaraguan rebels and faked a photograph of a dead rebel leader, who was posed to Please see FILMS, D-4 who gets involved with a killer. program, you can see that they're normal, living human beings. They let their hair down sometimes. They can joke about things. They enjoy what they're doing, and they personalize it." A self-described "natural ham" who began his broadcasting career with National Public Radio in 1971, Flatow says that his involvement with Newton's Apple stems from his own interest in scientific matters. He covered the Washington, D.C., science beat for 10 years and continues his NPR affiliation by working in the radio network's New York office. Flatow says that one goal of Newton's Apple is to get adults to suspend their preconception, of science as something beyond the average person's comprehension and approach the subject with the wonder of a child. The show also is designed to reinforce the natural curiosity of children and encourage their further research into particular topics. "Kids are naturally curious. But as we grow up, we're taught not to be. We don't have time to think about or question things because we have to make money, support a family, and all these other daily matters. What we're trying to say is that it's all right to be curious as an adult." Although Newton's Apple is sometimes considered a show aimed at children, Flatow says that a recent survey revealed that 75 percent of its audience is older than 18, and 60 percent of that group is over 30. Flatow describes his function on Newton's Apple as that of the eyes and voice of the average viewer, asking questions about subjects that laymen tend to wonder about. He also frequently gets much closer to exotic and large animals than the average viewer, Please see SCIENCE, D-8

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