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Barney, Better Watch Your Back

MOVIES | MONSTER MASH | FILM CLIPS

November 03, 1996|Judy Brennan | Judy Brennan is a regular contributor to Calendar

'Loch Ness" has finally surfaced.

That's "Loch Ness," the movie, that is, not Loch Ness, the monster.

The family film, starring Ted Danson, Joely Richardson and newcomer Kirsty Graham of Scotland, will finally be released on Nov. 24, after months of delay and speculation--not in theaters, on video or cable, but on network TV.

ABC plans to air the film, about an American professor down on his luck who is sent to get to the bottom of the myth of Loch Ness--and ends up finding the monster and true happiness.

A Working Title film and former Gramercy Pictures release, "Loch Ness" was originally scheduled last fall to be released theatrically on March 8, 1996, but its date was pushed later and later, until Oct. 14, when Gramercy told exhibitors to take it off their lists for good.

Gramercy's parent company, Polygram Filmed Entertainment, sold the $7-million film around that time to ABC for an undisclosed amount, calling it merely a prudent business decision. It downplayed rumors of problems with the film, which was directed by John Henderson.

But the shoot in Scotland proved problematic, sources close to the production said, and the finished picture underwhelmed Gramercy executives. Polygram insisted that that was not true and that it was happy with the results.

"Right after 'Gulliver's Travels' aired, ABC came to us and said someone there had seen 'Loch Ness' and was interested in buying it," said Polygram spokeswoman Dawn Bridges. "We saw it as an opportunity to maximize value. Their offer was a generous offer."

Translated: Family movies did terribly at the box office this summer; why risk millions marketing another one, when it could find a strong audience on TV?

"Gulliver's Travels," which also starred Danson, aired Feb. 4-5 on NBC and was a huge performer for a TV movie, averaging 28% share of the audience.

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