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Preview '96


September 15, 1996|JON MATSUMOTO | Jon Matsumoto is a frequent contributor to Calendar and TV Times

As usual, the new TV season will feature its fair share of melodramatic original movies. You won't have to search too hard to find films dealing with terminal illness, stalking and physical or emotional abuse.

Yet there are also plenty of upcoming TV movies geared toward classic movie fans and viewers with literary sensibilities. NBC, for example, will present versions of Shirley Jackson's unforgettable short story "The Lottery" and Sinclair Lewis' "Elmer Gantry." The network also will deliver two four-hour movies, "Homer's Odyssey" and "The Long Fatal Love Chase," the latter based on recently discovered manuscripts by Louisa May Alcott.

CBS brings esteemed literature to television by way of new movie versions of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" and "Harvey" by Mary Chase. Both ABC and CBS are slated to air interpretations of Jules Verne's undersea adventure "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea."

Cable television also gets into the literary act. TNT has scheduled an original film based on Victor Hugo's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." And a new version of Jane Austen's "Emma" will be presented by A&E.

Here are other highlights of the 1996-97 TV movie season (unless noted, air dates were not available):


"Angel of Harlem": The true story of Harlem basketball legend Earl "The Goat" Manigault's rise, fall and redemption. November. HBO.

"Get to the Heart: The Barbara Mandrell Story": The life of the country music star is dramatized. NBC.

"The Man Who Captured Eichmann": Robert Duvall plays the other infamous Nazi with the first name Adolf. Also starring Arliss Howard. Nov. 10. TNT.


"John Woo's Once a Thief": The acclaimed action director presents a new version of his Hong Kong film. Sept. 29. Fox.

"20,000 Leagues Under the Sea": An updated version of the Jules Verne novel about a young scientist who signs on to sail with an American frigate in search of a rash of ship sinkings, starring Michael Caine and Patrick Dempsey. ABC.

"20,000 Leagues Under the Sea": Another adaptation of Verne's novel, starring Richard Crenna, Paul Gross and Ben Cross. CBS.

"Vanishing Point": A desperate man in a supercharged car leads police and the FBI in a high-speed chase across four states in this new film with actor Viggo Mortensen. Fox.


"The Almost Perfect Bank Robbery": A dark comedy about a beautiful bankteller and her boyfriend, who decide to pull a heist. Stars Brooke Shields, Dylan Walsh ad Rip Torn. CBS.

"Cherokee Kid": This comedy-western features Sinbad as a man who becomes a legendary outlaw when he embarks on a quest to avenge his parents' death. December. HBO.

"Harvey": A new adaptation of Mary Chase's Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy about an eccentric man's friendship with a 6-foot-8 rabbit. Harry Anderson of "Dave's World" stars in the role that James Stewart played on the big screen, with Swoosie Kurtz and Leslie Nielsen lending support. CBS.

"London Suite": Kelsey Grammer, Michael Richards, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Kristen Johnson are some of the noteworthy actors who appear in this ensemble comedy written by award-winning playwright Neil Simon and directed by Jay Sandrich. A London hotel is the setting for a series of interwoven vignettes that take place on the same day. Sunday night, this week. NBC.

"The Munsters Reunion Movie": The ghoulish Munster family returns for a Christmas adventure. December. Fox.


"Apollo 11": A historical drama about the first U.S. moon landing and the astronauts on the mission. Family Channel.

"Bastard Out of Carolina": Jennifer Jason Leigh stars in a film version of the best-selling novel about a young girl's abusive childhood in South Carolina in the 1950s. December. Showtime.

"Clinic Defense Project": The abortion issue takes center stage in this true story about a battle between Operation Rescue and Clinic Defense. October. Showtime.

"Dallas: J.R. Returns": Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, Linda Grey and Ken Kercheval reunite in a continuation of the series that ran for 12 seasons. CBS.

"Danielle Steel's 'The Ring"': Nastassja Kinski and Michael York star in this four-hour project about a young German woman whose privileged life is changed forever by World War II. Oct. 20-21. NBC.

"The Diana Kilmury Story": Based on the true story of a Vancouver trucker's fight with the Teamsters. Oct. 22. TNT.

"Emma": Another version of Jane Austen's novel about a wealthy young girl who is so busy matchmaking for her friends that she nearly misses her own chance at romance. February. A&E.

"First Do No Harm": Meryl Streep stars as the mother of a boy with severe epilepsy. She fights to persuade the medical establishment to give her son a little-known diet. ABC.

"For Hope": A schoolteacher is stricken with a rare and sometimes fatal disease, scleroderma. Dana Delany stars. ABC.

"Homer's Odyssey": The ancient tale recounting the journey of Odysseus, king of Ithica. Armand Assante stars. NBC.

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