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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania • Page 68
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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania • Page 68

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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TELEVISION Sadly sung elegy Review by Robert Bianco The river still runs red. A century after strikers and Pinkertons shed each others' blood at the Homestead works, traces remain on the banks of the Monongahela. Carnegie and Frick, our robber barons incarnate, did more than end a strike, they launched our future. Their victory at Homestead, a victory chronicled Saturday at 8 on WQED in the independently produced documentary "The River Ran Red," ensured that the skilled workers and relatively high wages of the iron industry would be replaced by a steel industry built on low-wage, unorganized, unskilled labor. The 111 fj f-r A reenactment scene, above, of Homesteaders preparing to battle with the Pinkertons smacks of "Unsolved Mysteries." At left, the film's producers: Steffi Domike and Nicole Fauteux.

fit? 1 1 J- VIDEO Jlary, Mary 'Mary Tyler Moore Show episodes relive newsroom laughs and tears. By Barbara Vancheri If you spent much of the 1970s visiting 1 19 N. Weatherly in Minneapolis, you'll be happy to know that Mary's going to make it after all to video. United American Video is selling selected episodes of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." Mary Richards, of course, lived on North Weatherly in the same house as Phyllis and Rhoda until she moved to a modern highrise, taking her wooden with her, while her neighbors were spun off into series of their own. Three of the 10 MTM cassettes have special themes: "Mary's Greatest Dates" (which includes her romantic brush with Lou Grant), "Ted's Funniest Moments" which has Ted Baxter asking Walter Cronkite what words he has trouble pronouncing, and "Chuckles Bites the Dust." The Chuckles the Clown episode, in which Chuckles is mistaken for a giant peanut by a circus elephant, is considered one of the funniest episodes in TV history.

Also available are seven volumes with two episodes each. Each tape has a running time of 50 minutes and carries a suggested retail price of $9.99. If you cannot find the tapes in your local store, contact United American Video of Charlotte, N.C. It specializes in selling videotapes to supermarkets, drug chains and mass merchandisers. Phone number is (803) 548-7300.

CLASSIC RESTORATIONS: Restoring prints of big-screen daz-zlers such as "Citizen Kane" is nothing new. Now, Columbia Tri-Star Home Video is launching "The Studio Heritage Collection," a line of restored classic films on video. The first package of films, due Oct. 6, includes "The Bridge on the River Kwai," "The Guns of Navar-one "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," "Holiday," "Here Comes Mr.

Jordan," and "The More the Merrier." Each will have a suggested retail price of $19.95. The audio tracks have been enhanced, and the films digitally mastered for the sharpest image possible. Some of the tapes have the original theatrical trailers, and an eicht-minute documentary. Tbe Locally filmed 'The River Ran Red' documents the clash of two obstinate forces. ViDBITS Horror film fans had their day recently with Zombie Jamboree '93.

Next week. Burroughs bibliophiles will have theirs with the 33rd Annual Dum-Dum. Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan, know that's a term he created when describing a dancing celebration of the great apes of the jungle. The Dum-Dum will be Thurs- day through Sunday at the Holiday Inn, Green Tree. The schedule includes a Friday panel discussion with Gray Morrow, Sunday Tarzan page artist; Don Kraar, Sunday Tarzan page writer; and George Evans, Malibu Tarzan comic book artist, artist for the daily "Secret Agent Corri-gan" strip, and former ghost artist for "Terry and the Pirates" and "Flash Gordon." Also scheduled are an annual awards dinner along with a Saturday night dinner.

Coming to town for the event will be Denny Miller, a member of 4 the PTA which in this case stands for the Past Tarzans Association. He starred in MGM's "Tarzan the Ape Man" from 1 959. His acting credits also include 1 07 episodes of "Wagon Train." He's come out with a video called "Homestretch," which promises to teach you how to relax at home using pain-free stretching. The front of the box pictures a youthful blond Miller with a chimpanzee and the sentiment: "It 's a jungle out there Relax!" If you want more information on the Pittsburgh event, contact jP Clarence Hyde at 655-2585. (' Homestead Strike is the genesis of the insulated, dependent mill towns we call our own, and of the antagonisms that would eventually destroy the mills Carnegie founded.

Produced by Steffi Domikc and Nicole Fauteux, and narrated by Blair Brown, "River" is a worthy attempt to apply to local history the TV lessons learned in "1 he Civil War." The similarities are fairly obvious: the use of actors to bring contemporary writings to life, the use of poetry and fiction for lyrical comment, the use of a fiddle score to evoke a period. At its best, "River" is a sadly sung elegy not just to hat was risked, but to what was lost a chance for mill towns like I lomestead to grow as prosperous communities, instead of sinking for half a century under corporate exploitation. Thanks to a national distribution deal, an important story that should be familiar to most Pitts-burghers will now be told to America. How Carnegie and Frick, determined to reassert the principle of unfettered management control, plotted to break the union at Homestead's Carnegie Works. How the townspeople fought with the Pinkertons brought in to seize the mill.

How the strikers won the battle, but lost the war. While "River's" story is easy to follow, the storytelling methods are somewhat more ambiguous. Voices and sources are not always identified, which leaves one unable to judge their credibility. Contemporary reports are not necessarily reliable, particularly when they come from an age prone to drama and exaggeration. It is, after all, from turn-of-the-century newspapers that we get the term "yellow journalism." I also wish the producers would have avoided the use of reenact-ments, which, to my mind, always ring of bad amateur theatricals.

Though the goal is to bring the story to life an admittedly hard task for untapped history on a medium designed for movement the result looks too much like out-takes from "Unsolved Mysteries." One shouldn't watch "River" expecting to necessarily accept all "of the its.divis.iyn of thestpry jntg herpes. mined to keep an open mind. Their first assignment together takes them to a small Oregon town, where graduates of a local high school keep dying off for no good reason. The remaining few, understandably enough, are getting antsy what with their friends falling into comas and mutating into space monkeys and generally having a rough time of post-adolescence. It's all played with suitably creepy seriousness, but without the self-conscious wcirdness that made the later-day "Twin Peaks" so tedious.

Duchovny and Anderson anchor the story through steady performances; we're as interested in what happens to them as in what happened to the teens. It's all pretty silly stuff, but it's silliness done well. If you're willing to give yourself over to it, it should hold your attention which is more than one can say for most of the season's new offerings. And who knows, maybe aliens do walk among us. That would explain hy most of hat we get on TV looks like it was produced by people who only have a passing know ledge of planet Earth.

'THE RIVER RAN RED' It premieres Saturday night at 8 on WQED. 'THE X-FILES' It premieres tonight at 9 on Fox. and villains, "River" takes a rather indulgent view of the workers' desire to kill everyone on the Pinkertons' barges. Perhaps Homestead is a story of vicious capitalists vs. upstanding working men; or perhaps it's a story of two obstinate forces, neither of which showed a great regard for human life, and both of which lived under social constraints we no longer understand.

These, however, are questions of interpretation and open to debate. What seems certain is that "River" sheds light on a subject that should not be allowed to recede into darkness. For that, we can watch with gratitude. Do you think aliens walk among us? No? Neither do really. And that's the nice thing about Fox's unpretentiously preposterous visit to the paranormal, "The you don't have to believe it to enjoy it.

Loosely based on real "unsolved" cases at the FBI, "X-Files" which premieres tonight at 9 provides something for almost everyone. True believers get to revel in extraterrestrials and government cover-ups. Non-believers get to see two appealing actors keep a straight face as time stops and strange creatures stalk. The actors in question are two mostly unknowns: David Du- -chovny and Gillian Anderson. 1 Ic's a brilliant renegade agent, dedicated to proving the existence of paranormal phenomena.

She's the amjwalent assigned' Ao.ktQP, Art, of hosted by ch- i 4 2P.

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