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OUTTAKES

Dangling From A 'Limb'

November 02, 1986|Peter H. Brown

Redbook was left hanging from the highest branch after ABC's decision to postpone its "Out on a Limb" miniseries--a 5 1/2-hour analysis of Shirley MacLaine's relationship with her own psyche. Once set for November, it's now due Jan. 18-19.

The magazine has MacLaine on its November cover--but didn't know about the postponement until Outtakes called.

Senior Redbook editor Karen Larsen gasped:"Are you sure?"

Then she propelled an emissary over to New York's ABC Hq.

Bantam Books, which just issued 3-4 million copies of "Limb" and three other MacLaine books, is less concerned: "The tie-in was important to us, but it was very marginal," said a rep.

But when we visited five local bookstores, from big Crown Books to West Hollywood's Book Soup, salespersons were perturbed. "We figured the miniseries would drive people through the door in droves," said a Crown clerk. A sales exec for 22 Waldenbooks stores was startled: "We had filled the stores with large display boxes of Shirley's books. And these hinged directly on the miniseries. Why weren't we told?"

What caused the sudden postponement of a show in the works for three years? Larsen said she's been hearing very negative word-of-mouth on it, and a number of reporters who attended screenings during an October ABC junket were heard deriding "Limb" afterwards.

But an ABC publicist claimed, "Ultimately, we decided that this was more of a January show than a November one--it happens."

Said Bob Wright, ABC veep for West Coast p.r.: "If we had stuck to our November timetable, Part 1 would have aired on Sunday and Part 2 on Tuesday. We couldn't bear splitting it up and we couldn't do this to Shirley's masterpiece--this is just too good a show."

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