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HOWARD ROSENBERG / TELEVISION

Some Mother's Day Bouquets--and Brickbats

May 10, 1996|HOWARD ROSENBERG

Mother's Day has evolved into a generic celebration of all women rather than a mere toasting of moms. In that regard, here are some Mother's Day wishes for a few of TV's females.

To Jill Hennessy, for example, a change of heart about exiting NBC's "Law & Order" and her role as second-banana prosecutor Claire Kincaid at the end of this season.

Don't go. I love you, man!

Now, don't get me wrong, I watch "Law & Order" Wednesday nights for its superior stories. However, on those rare occasions when the scripts flounder or Asst. Dist. Atty. Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) gets unbearably arrogant or self-righteous, there's always Hennessy, who, despite being stunted by a role of moderate growth, never goes unnoticed by those of us appreciative of strong female characters who also happen to be, um, alluring.

Even though the popular "Law & Order" is one of TV's very best series, you can understand Hennessy's desire to leave. Take this week's typically arresting episode, for example, when Kincaid was briefly gripped by guilt and tormented by others after a sicko (grandly played by Denis O'Hare), whom she had granted a mild plea bargain in an earlier case, later returned to the streets and committed three grisly murders.

The episode featured an unusually sharp exchange between Kincaid and that grumbling pessimist, D.A. Adam Schiff (Steven Hill), and frustration by Kincaid that appeared to be setting up her quitting the prosecuting biz: "I'm starting to think we're the Maginot Line of the justice system, and I don't like it."

Ah, not only a conscience and integrity, but a sense of history too.

But even though Kincaid got more to do than usual in this episode, she still ultimately gave way to the dominant McCoy in the courtroom, affirming that, despite being dotted by females (including regular S. Epatha Merkerson as a police lieutenant and numerous actresses in prominent guest roles), "Law & Order" remains essentially a man's series.

In scanning the entire landscape of prime-time drama, moreover, it becomes obvious that probable GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole is not the only one with a significant gender gap.

One more reason why, for the greater good, Hennessy should not abandon the Maginot Line. To say nothing of pleasing those of us who admire good looks as well as good acting.

*

SELF-DEFENSE: To Kim Jones, publicist for Martin Lawrence, comedy star of movies and Fox's "Martin," some better spin to explain the bizarre behavior of her client.

On Tuesday, police bundled up a resisting Lawrence and took him to a hospital after he was discovered out of control, wildly cursing and screaming at motorists on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. They said that he had a loaded handgun in his pocket. Afterward, Jones issued a statement saying Lawrence's doctor had found him "suffering from a case of complete exhaustion and dehydration."

Yes, that would explain it. For example, I recall what happened to me recently when I was utterly drained and stressed out after grinding out a string of long, arduous columns. Blotto! The next thing I knew, I was out on the street raving, with a loaded Uzi strapped to my back.

Oh, please. Why is it that only famous show-biz folk flip out or collapse from what is inevitably described as "exhaustion"? You see them on TV newscasts--Michael Jackson comes immediately to mind--being carried off to a private ambulance on a stretcher.

Why is it that workers involved in manual labor never seem to collapse from exhaustion? You see them fixing roads or building houses, bending their backs in the dust and hot sun. Now, that's work. And anyone who has covered a political campaign knows about the grueling marathons of candidates on the stump. No stretchers or ambulances for these guys. Are actors just more fragile?

Getting back to the hospitalized Lawrence, should someone so susceptible to getting tired be allowed to possess a firearm under any circumstances? Wednesday's word from his doctor was that his condition was improving. And the latest explanation from Jones about Lawrence packing a rod was that "all celebrities carry protection these days." Oh.

When they get exhausted, however, who protects us from them?

*

THIS JUST IN: For female TV news executives (this also can be reused for their male counterparts on Father's Day), the dream story:

A deadly confrontation erupts when serial rapists take deadbeat dads hostage on the 405, clogging miles of freeway occupied by celebrities involved in sex scandals captured on videotape by Princess Di-following paparazzi who advocate same-sex marriages between homosexuals being recklessly chased at high speeds by brutal cops given exclusive team chopper coverage by reporters who buzz O.J. Simpson's house.

With live commentary by Dominick Dunne.

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