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28 Hours After Taping, Nbc Plans To Air '227' Episodes

February 21, 1987|BARBARA MILLER | Miller, a senior journalism major at Cal State Fullerton, is a Calendar intern.

It's the next logical step, according to Ron Bloomberg, supervising producer of NBC's "227." And it's a step he has wanted to take for six years.

If all goes well, Bloomberg's vision to present a prime-time comedy series incorporating current events will be seen on "227" at 8:30 tonight--about 28 hours after the episode is taped. Usually, about a month elapses between the time a "227" is made and aired.

If this sounds risky, that's because it is, Bloomberg said.

"That's part of the attraction though," said Bloomberg, who added that NBC Entertainment President Brandon Tartikoff was intrigued by the idea of taping a show close to its air date and including discussion of late-breaking news. "Eventually, we'd like to get to the point where we can do the first live situation comedy in prime time."

The episode deals with Mary and Lester Jenkins (Marla Gibbs and Hal Williams) after they've just received a notice from the IRS that they're being audited. Ron Glass, as the auditor, and Red Buttons, as the owner of a coffee shop where most of the topical discussions will occur, are guest stars.

Among the topics to be discussed, Bloomberg said, are the contras, the stock market, "Platoon," "Amerika" and, of course, the IRS.

Incorporating "today's" headlines into the script, however, is not the only thing the show is after, said Gary Lieberthal, chairman and chief executive officer of Columbia/Embassy Television.

"We want to enliven the characters in a greater sense," Lieberthal said. "It's something that's spontaneous, exciting . . . something that will have the energy of a Broadway play."

Gibbs, also co-producer of "227," agrees that the topicality idea--plus working with Red Buttons--is exciting. She said the "live" aspect of the episode is similar to what they regularly do as a cast, which is to improvise off a script.

Said Lieberthal: "If the episode is a success ("227" placed 18th in last week's Nielsen ratings), and it seems to advance the characters' relationships, then we can employ this technique in other shows and do it more often.

"But if there's an angle to this whole thing, it's about supporting someone with a vision," Lieberthal said. "Ron Bloomberg has that vision."

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