Two TV movies on fallen TV evangelist Jim Bakker and his wife, Tammy, are racing to the little screen on competing networks.
Both are in the early stages of production. "Fall From Grace," an NBC "Movie of the Week," has hired the Bakkers as consultants. "God and Greed: The Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker Story," is being produced by CBS "Movies of the Week" with free-lance journalist Art Harris hired as a consultant
"Looks like we are going to have a 'who's-going-to-get-on-the-air-first' thing," said Sandy Emry, production coordinator at CBS. Both CBS and NBC said it would be at least three months before a first draft of the script would be ready.
"If Tammy had her way, Sally Field would play her in the movie," said Ken Raskoff, director of motion pictures for television at NBC. "I said to her, 'If you can make that happen we'd be delighted.' "
Bakker left the PTL-Heritage USA ministry he founded near Ft. Mill, S.C., after he acknowledged last March that he had sex with a church secretary, Jessica Hahn, in a Florida hotel room in 1980, and then paid her a settlement to keep it quiet.
At NBC, scriptwriter Ken Trevey, who wrote the script for the critically acclaimed TV movie "LBJ: The Early Years," said although the Bakkers are helping him with his research, "they do not control the script." He also maintained that the movie will be "fair" although "we do not intend to talk to Jessica Hahn or Jerry Falwell."
Falwell assumed control of PTL when Bakker departed last March. In October, Falwell resigned, calling Bakker's leadership of PTL "the greatest scab and cancer on the face of Christianity in 2,000 years."
The prospect of having two movies on the air with different versions of what occurred between Jim Bakker and Jessica Hahn eight years ago has created problems for script writers.
How might NBC deal with the dilemma?
"I think you close the door of the Hotel room and go to another scene," Raskoff said.