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New Plot Twists in the Writers' Strike : CBS Orders Up Four Shows That It Calls 'Strike-Proof'

July 22, 1988|DIANE HAITHMAN | Times Staff Writer

In order to plug the holes left in its fall schedule by the 19 1/2-week-old Writers Guild of America strike, CBS announced Thursday that it has ordered four new "strike-proof" shows--two in the talk-variety category and two that will be filmed abroad.

Three other CBS shows may also try to get some help from abroad: Lorimar Television, which produces the network's nighttime serial dramas "Knots Landing," "Dallas" and "Falcon Crest," "does not deny that the possibility exists" that the company will seek British writers for its series, a spokeswoman said Thursday.

The new programs green-lighted by CBS are "High Risk," a one-hour magazine format series featuring interviews with people with "unique occupations and hobbies"; a variety hour to be hosted by Dick Clark; "Dolphin Bay," a one-hour drama about an American scientist to be produced in Australia; and "Jake's Journey," a half-hour comedy-fantasy to be filmed in England starring former Monty Python member Graham Chapman as a "cranky old knight" and Chris Young as the American teen-ager who becomes his assistant.

Although the network was evasive about who would write the two shows to be produced abroad, a CBS representative for "Dolphin Bay" said that the series would presumably use an Australian staff of writers, although none has been selected yet.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday July 23, 1988 Home Edition Calendar Part 5 Page 7 Column 1 Television Desk 1 inches; 30 words Type of Material: Correction
Dick Berg was incorrectly identified in Friday's editions of The Times as the executive producer of Paramount's revival of "Mission: Impossible" for ABC. That job has not yet been filled, a studio spokesman said.

"Jake's Journey" is a co-production of England's HTV and Hollywood's Witzend Productions; "Dolphin Bay" is produced by the Los Angeles-based Dick Berg/Stonehenge Productions in association with Paramount.

Berg and Paramount also are producing the Australia-based revival of "Mission: Impossible" that ABC has ordered as strike-replacement programming for the fall.

"The announcement of these four shows fortifies CBS' commitment to put original series on the air this fall despite the strike," the network's entertainment division president, Kim LeMasters, said in a prepared statement. Before the strike, the shows were planned to be produced in Australia and England as mid-season replacements, CBS said.

Lorimar, meanwhile, declined to be more specific about the possibility of hiring foreign writers. Last week, company spokeswoman Barbara Brogliatti had said that the executive producers of its shows were being called back to work, but would not comment on who was expected to write the new episodes.

At that time, the only executive producer of the three CBS prime-time soaps available for comment was Michael Filerman of "Falcon Crest," who said, "I don't know what that (Brogliatti's comment) means" and added that the show had no scripts in the can and he did not intend to hire non-union writers. He could not be reached for comment Thursday on the possibility of using writers from overseas.

A new prime-time series from ABC, "A Fine Romance," also slated for fall, will probably be using British writers, a spokesman for the network confirmed Thursday. Even before the strike, the show, a sophisticated romp about a divorced couple who host a talk program, was to be shot on location in Europe, the spokesman said.

The British and Canadian writers' unions have asked their members to honor the strike by the Writers Guild of America.

Although none of the networks has announced its complete fall schedule changes due to the strike, all have announced some additions in recent weeks.

Along with introducing a new "Mission: Impossible," ABC has rescheduled the first 18 hours of its miniseries "War and Remembrance" for November, rather than next February; CBS will bring back last spring's "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" under an independent contract with the guild, and NBC will revive the 1977 series "The Hardy Boys," re-casting and re-shooting the old scripts, as a replacement for its "Magical World of Disney" hour slated for Sundays at 7 p.m.

Also continuing in production for fall under independent contracts are NBC's "The Cosby Show," "A Different World," "Highway to Heaven," "Alf" and "Amen," and ABC's new "Roseanne," starring comedienne Roseanne Barr.

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