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Margaret Whitton Changes Partners in 'Fine Romance'

September 26, 1988|JERRY BUCK | Associated Press

ABC's "A Fine Romance" calls for actress Margaret Whitton to traipse across Europe with her former husband, but she is switching partners before the journey begins.

In the lighthearted adventure, Whitton and her co-star play a battling divorced couple who find themselves paired up as hosts of a television travel show. It goes into production in November at various location sites in Europe.

But Anthony Andrews, who played Whitton's husband in the pilot, has withdrawn from the series. He reportedly contends that the producer's vision of the show is not the one he had when he made the pilot.

Christopher Cazenove, a British actor who was Blake Carrington's brother in "Dynasty" and most recently starred in the miniseries "Windmills of the Gods," takes over the role. New World TV Group has filed a breach of contract suit in London against Andrews.

The one-hour show is filmed on location in Europe--London one week, then off to Paris, Rome, Greece and other romantic places. It is all picturesque background for Whitton and Cazenove to get into mischief and swap roundhouse punches and makeup kisses.

"We filmed the pilot in Italy, in Rome and Florence and Pisa," Whitton said. "We'll be filming all over the continent."

"A Fine Romance" will be one of the last ABC fall series to reach the home screen. Like all the series, it was delayed by the writers' strike, and its European locale adds further delays.

In addition to the TV series, Whitton, a rabid New York Yankees fan, went to Milwaukee for "Major League," a theatrical film about baseball with Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger and Corbin Bernsen of "L.A. Law."

"I have box seats behind the batting cage for the Yankee games," she said.

Whitton grew up in Philadelphia, where she fell in love with reading at an early age.

"I still love to turn off the phone and curl up with a good book," she said. "I'm not really sure why I turned to acting, even now. I think it's a borrowed imbalance. I can't focus on it. One of my memories as a kid was that I wanted to be a jockey. I wanted to be an Ikette with Tina Turner.

"I wanted to be a journalist at one point. A writer. I was always writing stories as a kid. I think acting was just a way for me to realize all the fantasies in my head. I think of actors essentially as greedy people who want to live a lot of lives. Maybe it's some memory."

She broke into acting on the New York stage, both off and on Broadway. Between roles, she worked as a dog walker. Her first television appearances were on the soap operas "The Doctors" and "One Life to Live."

"I still consider myself a New York actress," she said. "You can mess it up at the evening show. You can try anything at the matinee. But with film, once it's in the can you can't change it. The soaps subsidized my stage work."

Her first prime-time series was "Hometown," which CBS aired in the 1985-86 season. It was a sort of "thirtysomething" before its time. The pilot script by Julie and Dinah Kirgo had been around for a while, but it wasn't until "The Big Chill" became a hit movie that CBS agreed to put it on the air.

In "The Best of Times," she worked with Robin Williams and Kurt Russell. She played the hooker who parked her trailer on the county line and took credit cards. "Robin was the only person I've ever worked with who broke me up," she said. "I'd blow a take. He's got a hot line to God's funny bone."

She was also in "9 1/2 Weeks," "National Lampoon Goes to the Movies" and "Love Child." She was Michael J. Fox's amorous aunt in "The Secret of My Success."

She describes Louise, her role in "A Fine Romance," as a woman "who doesn't have all her sensors on."

"She's very beguiling, but in a manipulative way. She flies by the seat of her pants and ends up in these situations. Louise is a person to whom things happen. You can go in all directions with her."

The relationship between the ex-spouses in "A Fine Romance" will be "prickly, just like in real life," she said.

"He can't resist her. He thinks he wants the staid, stolid English life, but he's attracted to Louise against his will and better judgment. The humor is so off-the-wall I'm surprised ABC went for it."

The pilot for "A Fine Romance" has already been televised on London Weekend Television. There it's called "A Ticket to Ride," which is the name of the travel show in the series.

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