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TODAY'S NEWS, TOMORROW'S TELEVISION : George Hamilton plays a bad guy in new 'Columbo'; Schell joins 'Wiseguy'; PBS incurs 'Wrath'



Production has begun on a two-hour "Columbo" mystery for ABC. In this go-around, the raincoat-clad Columbo (recent Emmy winner Peter Falk) matches wits with an Geraldo Rivera-type talk show host (George Hamilton) who murders his rival (Peter Haskell) to protect his career from a blackmail scheme

The movie, entitled "Smokescreen," will air later this season.

Peter Strauss and Robert Urich team up for CBSU "83 Hours to 'Til Dawn," airing Nov. 11 at 9 p.m. The drama, based on a true story, is about a young woman who was kidnaped and buried alive by a sociopath. Samantha Mathis, who played Christian Slater's love interest in "Pump Up the Volume," co-stars. SERIES

Oscar-winning Austrian actor Maxmilian Schell has joined "Wiseguy" for the CBS drama's first arc, a six-hour story filming on location in Miami. Schell, who received the best actor Oscar for 1961's "Judgement at Nuremberg," plays a Cuban-American crime kingpin who has sold out his own people for his personal gain. "Wiseguy" is set to return to the CBS lineup later this season.

Lisa Eilbacher, who played Eddie Murphy's friend in "Beverly Hills Cop," is joining the cast of NBC's "Midnight Caller." Eilbacher will play Nicolette "Nicky" Molloy, an ambitious radio-station manager who is not afraid to take on outspoken talk-show host Jack Killian (Gary Cole) when the San Francisco radio station changes hands.

Eilbacher will make her first appearance in the fifth episode. She will replace series regular Wendy Kilbourne, who is leaving the show after that segment to give birth to her baby due in November.

NBC Sports announcer Ahmad Rashad will be co-host of NBC's new weekly Saturday-morning show "NBA Inside Stuff," premiering Oct. 27. The half-hour series will feature the best players in the National Basketball Assn. The show will run 36 weeks, through July 1991.

"The Grapes of Wrath," the Tony Award-winning production of John Steinbeck's landmark novel about Okies migrating to California, is being taped for PBS's "American Playhouse" series. Repeating their Broadway roles are Gary Sinise, Terry Kinney and Lois Smith. "Grapes" will air next year.

Five-year-old Jonathan Halyalkar is the newest cast member on ABC's long-running comedy "Who's the Boss."

Jonathan plays Billy, the grandson of Mrs. Rossini's neighbor, who comes to live with Tony (Tony Danza) and Angela (Judith Light), after his grandmother breaks her hip and can no longer take care of him.

"L.A. Law" will be introducing a new attorney this season. British actress Amanda Donohoe, best known for her super sexy vampire role in Ken Russell's 1988 tongue-in-cheek horror film "Lair of the White Worm" will join the cast in the fourth episode of the Emmy Award-winning series as an ace lawyer who initially outwits the attorneys at McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney, Kuzak and Becker. Another new cast member will be added at a later date. SPECIALS

"The 33rd Annual Grammy Awards" will be in the Big Apple next year. The awards ceremony will be broadcast Feb. 20 at 8 p.m. on CBS from Radio City Music Hall. The Grammy nominations will be announced Jan. 10.

Mark Goodson, the producer and creator of such classic game shows as "The Match Game" and "To Tell the Truth," is getting into reality-based programming. "Trackdown USAS will follow private investigators as they pursue cases, and "Uncommon Valor" will honor heroes from everyday life. The specials are set to air on CBS during the spring of 1991.

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