MINISERIES PREMIERES--Sunday night could bring the head-on collision heard around the nation as two blustery blockbusters (shown on the cover) clash to start off the first full week of the February ratings sweeps.
Once-lofty CBS, seeking to regain the prime-time ratings lead from NBC, has "Dynasty" star Joan Collins leading the charge with the seven-hour "Sins," Sunday from 8 to 11 p.m., continuing 9-11 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Channels 2 and 8.
NBC roars back with the eight-hour "Peter the Great" on Sunday from 9 to 11 p.m., continuing at the same time through Wednesday, Channels 4, 36, 39.
NBC obviously was concerned that the premiere of "Sins" was getting an hour's jump on "Peter the Great." So it shifted an episode of its smash"The Cosby Show," featuring Danny Kaye as the guest, to 8 p.m. Sunday and deployed an episode of "Amazing Stories" at 8:30 p.m. as the lead-in programming. So much for peaceful coexistence.
Based on a novel by Judith Gold and filmed in glittery European locations, "Sins" stars Collins as Helene Junot, the head of an international fashion magazine publishing empire in Paris. She rises from humble beginnings to a position of such power that she is able to take revenge on the man who destroyed her family during the Nazi occupation of France. Along the way, though, she makes oodles of enemies-- uh oh --who await her first sign of weakness.
The supporting cast includes Timothy Dalton as Helene'slong-lost brother (every powerful woman has a long-lost brother); Neil Dickson as the decadent nobleman whose love for Helene becomes an evil obsession; Arielle Dombasle as the vain chick whose love of baubles threatens Helene's empire; James Farentino as a U.S. senator whose political ambitions stand in the way of his love for Helene; Giancarlo Giannini as an Italian con man who loves money but not Helene; Lauren Hutton as an architect whose marriage and career are threatened by Helene, and Gene Kelly (seen with Collins on the cover) as the composer/conductor whose love provides Helene with temporary tranquility.
The operative word is "temporary."
It's obvious that, compared with Helene Junot, Russia's Peter the Great led a relatively serene and simple life. Born in 1672, Peter's only problem in his youth was a conflict between the Naryshkin and Miloslavsky factions that led to the Streltsy rebellion, that led to bloody disorder in which one of Peter's uncles was hacked to pieces, followed later by a plot against Peter's life by his half-sister, Sophia.
Otherwise, Peter led the life of a normal teen-ager.
Maximilian Schell (on the cover) is the mature Peter, who was one of Russia's most important and progressive czars, and Jan Niklas is the younger Peter. The cast also includes Vanessa Redgrave, Laurence Olivier, Omar Sharif, Trevor Howard, Hanna Schygulla, Helmut Griem, Ursula Andress, Elke Sommer, Mel Ferrer and Lilli Palmer.
"Peter the Great" was filmed in the Soviet Union and Austria and was marked by internal problems that included the replacement of initial director Lawrence Schiller by Marvin J. Chomsky in mid-production. The blockbuster rolled on, however, toward its confrontation with "Sins."
Meanwhile, ABC's "Disney Sunday Movie" makes its debut at 7 p.m. Sunday with the two-hour "Help Wanted: Kids," starring Cindy Williams and Bill Hudson (Channels 7, 3, 10, 42). Lots of luck.