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Today's News, Tomorrow's Television

April 22, 1990


Director Ken Thurlbeck has edited his acclaimed 90-minute documentary about rock music in the Soviet Union, "USSR & R," to 30 minutes for the Learning Channel's new series "Distant Lives" on April 29. In tracing the roots of the Soviet Union's burgeoning music scene, Thurlbeck talks to Soviet rock critic Art Troitsky; rock fanatic Kolinsky Vassin, who built up a secret "rock museum" in his small apartment, and dissident rocker Yuri Shechuk, whose band DDT has sold more than 7 million copies of one underground recording.

Three sitcoms, an NBC source said, have series commitments for next season: "Parenthood," produced by the feature film's creative team, stars Ed Begley Jr., Jayne Atkinson, William Windom and Sheila MacRae as a neurotic extended family; "The Boys Are Back," from the writer/producers of "The Golden Girls," is about the widowed matriarch of a Brooklyn-based Italian family, who orders her four adult sons to move back home to straighten out their lives; "Modern Marriage," from the team behind "St. Elsewhere," looks at a fortysomething couple who must co-exist with their "too-hip" son and daughter.

The same NBC source said that the network has a series commitment for the one-hour drama "Dead End Brattigan," starring Bruce Greenwoodods a down-on-his-luck, Pulitzer Prize-winning newsman who uses his column to go up against every thing and every one-including his own publisher. Gregg Henry and Donald Moffat also star.


Muppet master Jim Henson and his creative team, the same people who handcrafted the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the current feature film, will produce Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" as a four-hour NBC miniseries for the 1990-91 season. The visual style of the miniseries, to be presented as four one-hour tales, will be similar to Henson's acclaimed but short-lived NBC series "The Storyteller," starring John Hurt.


Rick Schroder plays a mysterious stranger who shows up on the doorstep of Vietnam widow Kate Jackson, claiming to be her long-lost son in "The Stranger Within," a CBS movie now shooting in Minneapolis. But Jackson's boyfriend, Chris Sarandon, suspects that Schroder is not really who he claims to be.


Radio deejays are the subject of a half-hour comedy special on ABC that will follow the hit "America's Funniest Home Videos" on May 6. "Anything for Laughs" will take TV viewers around the country to witness the on-air zaniness of radio jocks, such as Los Angeles locals Jay Thomas on Power 106 and Frazer Smith of KLSX.

Production is under way on location in Orlando, Fla., on "The Muppets. At Walt Disney World," a special airing May 13 on NBC's "The Magical World of Disney." Kermit sets out to rediscover his roots in Florida's boggy swamps, but the Muppet gang would rather frolic at nearby Disney World. Jim Henson executive produces.

Walter C. Miller, who directed the past three Tony telecasts, will direct and co-produce this year's for CBS on June 3. Miller's accomplished career includes three Emmys, two Peabodys and a Director's Guild of America award. Nominations for the 1990 Tonys will be announced May 7.

Fine Young Cannibals, U2, Annie Lennox, David Byrne, Billy Idol, Neneh Cherry, Tom Waits, Sinead O'Connor, k.d. lang and Jody Watley are some of the vocal artists recording covers of Cole Porter tunes for "Red Hot and Blue," a late-night ABC special in December to benefit AIDS research. Each song will be presented in specially commissioned short films by such acclaimed directors as John Sayles, Stephen Frears, Jim Jarmusch, Wim Wenders, Jonathan Demme, Diane Keaton and Byrne. Chrysalis Records will release a 22-track double album in late October.

"America's Hope Award Honoring Oprah Winfrey," a star-studded affair saluting the talk show host, canceled its taping at the Bob Hope Cultural Center in Palm Springs because some of the stars couldn't make it. The ceremony for the new humanitarian award, which was first presented to Bob Hope in 1988, will be re-scheduled for September for broadcast on ABC.


Former ABC news veterans Susan Lester and Lisa Zeff have been named producers for "Art & Entertainment Revue," a new weekly news magazine premiering May 4 on A&E. The program will spotlight the latest events in the worlds of music, movies, TV, theater, dance, art, literature and pop culture.


Kim Zimmer, who plays Reva Lewis on CBSU "Guiding Light," has decided not to renew her contract with the soap. Zimmer will exit mid-summer, and the show reportedly has no plans to recast her role.

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