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Made for Mayhem (and Heroics)

September 21, 1997|JON MATSUMOTO | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Homicidal trucks, a green-haired basketball star, a comedic look at the history of breast implants and a mob widow who must choose between a $15 million inheritance and a relationship with a man. These are some of the more outrageous characters or scenarios that will make up the new made-for-TV movie season.

But there will also be plenty of TV movies with more conventional plot lines. Real-life heroes and heroines will anchor films like NBC's "The Carolyn McCarthy Story" and the Barbra Streisand-produced Showtime project, "Two Women."

Old film and literary favorites will be reinterpreted with NBC's "Brave New World," ABC's "Oliver Twist," USA's "Ms. Scrooge" and ABC's "Rear Window," featuring Christopher Reeve.

Historical drama (TNT's "Buffalo Soldiers"), gruesome murders (the NBC miniseries "House of Frankenstein") and the return of Angela Lansbury's beloved TV character Jessica Fletcher (CBS' "Murder, She Wrote: South by Southwest") also will contribute to the new TV movie campaign.

Here's a rundown on some of the more interesting projects (many of which have not been given air dates at press time):

ACTION-ADVENTURE

"Futuresport": In the future, a dangerous game has replaced conventional sports. Wesley Snipes stars as the master of a contest in which opposing teams square off in a deadly confrontation where the fate of nations can hang in the balance. ABC.

"Medusa's Child": A doomsday miniseries about five people traveling aboard a cargo plane that carries a fully armed nuclear bomb set to go off within hours. The device could wipe out the Capitol and every computer on the continent. Martin Sheen and Lori Loughlin star. Nov. 16. ABC.

"Peter Benchley's Creature": A four-hour miniseries from the author of "Jaws." A man, his ex-wife and their son find themselves battling a new breed of amphibious predator. Based on Benchley's novel, "White Shark." ABC.

"Trucks": A gang of psychotic semi-trailer trucks goes on the rampage in this film based on a short story by horror writer Stephen King. Oct. 29. USA.

BIOGRAPHY

"Bad As I Wanna Be: The Dennis Rodman Story": Based on the outrageous basketball star's autobiography. ABC.

"The Carolyn McCarthy Story": The true story of a Long Island woman whose husband was killed and her son seriously injured by a crazed gunman who opened fire on a commuter train in 1993. After helping her son make a remarkable recovery, she was eventually elected to the House of Representatives by adopting a platform that included a ban on assault weapons. NBC.

"Don King: Only in America": A biographical drama based on the book "Only in America: The Life and Crimes of Don King." The film chronicles controversial boxing promoter Don King's rise to power. Nov. HBO.

"Get to the Heart: The Barbara Mandrell Story": The story of country singer Barbara Mandrell's rise to stardom and the challenges she faced after a near-fatal car accident. Maureen McCormick stars. Sept. 28. CBS.

"The Joe Torre Story": Based on the life of the New York Yankee manager, his family and the year leading up to the 1996 World Series championship. Starring Paul Sorvino. Oct. 17. Showtime.

"Monday After the Miracle": Billed as the true story of Helen Keller, now a grown woman, and her loving teacher, Annie Sullivan. Their relationship is threatened by a caring man who comes between them. Starring Sissy Spacek. CBS.

"The Sammy Gravano Story": A miniseries about the real-life Mafia hit man who turned on his mob brethren, sending the notorious John Gotti and several other dozen mobsters to prison for life. NBC.

"Mother Teresa: In the Name of God's Poor": Geraldine Chaplin plays the late, Nobel Peace Prize winner. Oct. 5. Family Channel.

COMEDY

"Breast Men": David Schwimmer and Chris Cooper star in this darkly comedic look at the history of the breast implant from its invention in the '60s to the present. December. HBO.

"The Hired Heart": In order to mollify her father-in-law, who wants her to stop grieving for her dead husband, a young widow hires a professional escort to masquerade as her lover. A romantic comedy starring Penelope Ann Miller. Oct. 13. Lifetime.

DRAMA

"The Advocate's Devil": A lawyer (Ken Olin) lands the case of his career defending a charismatic basketball star accused of rape. But the attorney eventually must grapple with his own moral conscience when he begins to suspect his client may be guilty. ABC.

"Brave New World": Aldous Huxley's classic 1932 science-fiction novel--with its warnings about genetic engineering, thought-control, mindless consumption and television itself--is brought to the small screen. NBC.

"Buffalo Soldiers": Danny Glover stars in the story of the African American U.S. Cavalry corps, whose reputation as exceptional soldiers and horsemen earned them respect and admiration. Dec. 7. TNT.

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