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Television Reviews : 'A Table at Ciro's'

November 13, 1987|DON SHIRLEY

Make your reservations now for "A Table at Ciro's" (tonight, Channels 28 and 15 at 9 p.m., Channel 24 at 8 p.m.). An hourlong dramatization of Budd Schulberg's 1941 short story about one important day in the life of a Hollywood mogul and his sycophants, this "Table" is exquisitely set and offers a sophisticated and delicious little meal.

It's the second of three "Tales From the Hollywood Hills," an anthology that began last week with the relatively lackluster "Natica Jackson." The producers should have put their best foot forward first.

"A Table" is one of those rare shows that must be watched on a color set. Its pinks, oranges and greens are that vibrant, and they create an entrancing vision of bygone Hollywood. Nor does the stylish look stop with the palette of colors. The camera moves were choreographed with a fluidity that echoes the theme of the story--the flow patterns of Hollywood power.

Even the choice of locations reflects extraordinary care. A Santa Monica home that belonged to Dolores Del Rio serves as the mogul's mansion. This sleek, moderne palace is a refreshing change from the usual notions of '30s Hollywood grandeur.

For the look of "A Table," credit cinematographer Thomas Sigel and production designer Michael Helmy as well as director Leon Ichaso.

Schulberg deserves most of the rest of the credit. He co-adapted his own story, with Stan Silverman. The dialogue is a witty mix of the brash ("Your brains are in your bra.") and the allusive. And the story resonates beyond the confines of Hollywood.

The cast couldn't be better. Darren McGavin's mogul is a man who enjoys his perks without being blinded by them. Lois Chiles is his seen-it-all wife, and Kenneth McMillan and Stella Stevens are dead-on as two aging has-beens. Steven Bauer reveals an unexpected flair for comedy as a Latin lover, and Kim Myers is the ultra-winsome new girl in town.

Meanwhile, at glamorous Ciro's, telephone operator Ann Magnuson and maitre d' Earl Boen dream of something bigger and better. And Donna Murphy sings "Where or When," a perfect accompaniment for the dissipation of dreams.

The "Hollywood Hills" trilogy concludes next Friday with F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Pat Hobby Teamed With Genius."

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