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[07/28/03 - 12:00 AM]
CBS Outlines 2003-04 Season Originals
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- While most of the major networks have scaled back their telefilm and mini-series commitments, CBS will continue to offer a steady dose of original movies this season.

Here's a complete list of what's currently in the works for the Eye's 2003-04 season (via press release):

"Twelve Mile Road" (Sunday, September 28) stars Tom Selleck, Wendy Crewson, Maggie Grace and Anna Gunn in a drama about a divorced farmer whose life is thrown into turmoil by the unexpected arrival of his emotionally troubled daughter who comes to stay for the summer. Stephen Landis (Selleck) is a happy man on the surface but with unresolved regrets underneath whose loving girlfriend, Leah (Gunn), and her teenaged daughter, Roxanne (Tegan Moss), have recently moved in with him. Their peaceful country life is completely disrupted by the arrival of Stephen's wild and unpredictable 16-year-old daughter, Dulcie (Grace). At first Stephen thinks his overwhelmed ex-wife, Angela (Crewson), whom he still misses, has exaggerated Dulcie's troubles. However, he soon witnesses her bizarre and destructive behavior and secretly fears for her sanity. Despite her intense misgivings about staying at the farm, Dulcie finds herself forming an unlikely friendship with Roxanne, her boyfriend and the farmer couple next door. As time passes, Dulcie begins to thrive in her new surroundings and her growing bond with her father creates an unforeseen opportunity for her family to finally address and heal the wounds of the past. Laurie Parker ("The Education of Little Tree," "Mr. And Mrs. Loving") is the executive producer for Fox Television Studios.

"Blessings" (Sunday, October 5) stars Mary Tyler Moore, Kathleen Quinlan, Liam Waite, China Chow and Ralph Waite in a story, based on the New York Times best-seller by Anna Quindlen, about a reclusive heiress who, with a young ex-con, decides to raise an infant that was left abandoned on her property. Lydia Blessing (Moore) is an 80-year-old woman living on a vast family estate. Unable to care for the home and grounds herself, Lydia hires Skip Cuddy (Liam Waite), an ex-con, to be her live-in handyman, much to the dismay of Jennifer (Chow), Lydia's young housekeeper, and Lydia's daughter Meredith (Quinlan). One evening, on the way to his garage apartment, Skip finds an unexpected surprise -- a cardboard box containing a newborn baby. Skip decides to raise the infant on his own but is unable to keep it secret from Lydia's prying eyes. An unlikely friendship springs up between the old woman and the embittered young man. Together, the pair embarks on a journey of pure faith, one that creates the family that Skip never had and one that reminds Lydia of the past she's tried to forget. Ralph Waite stars as the local sheriff. Larry Sanitsky ("Open House") is the executive producer for The Sanitsky Company.

"Footsteps" (Sunday, October 12) stars Candice Bergen, Bryan Brown, Michael Murphy and Bug Hall in a dramatic thriller about a best-selling suspense novelist who finds herself in the middle of a real-life drama when two men appear at her isolated beach house -- one of whom may be trying to kill her, the other of whom could save her life. Daisy Lowendahl (Bergen) has just killed off a popular character in a best-selling series of books and, after an unpublicized nervous breakdown, plans to confront one of her fears by spending a night alone -- without her husband, Robbie (Murphy) -- at their remote beach house. When she arrives there, things don't feel right and she is completely taken aback when she finds Spencer Weaver (Hall) inside the house claiming to be a local young fan whose knowledge of Daisy's life is both comprehensive and disturbing. Next to arrive is police detective Eddie Bruno (Brown) who heard from her husband that she was alone and might need protection. Daisy's immobilizing anxiety and escalating sense of danger creates increasing jeopardy for her. Isolated as she is in the fog-shrouded house, her husband is the only other person who knows where she is and can save her, if she can find a way to reach him. Based on the unproduced stage play by famed author and playwright Ira Levin ("Deathtrap," "Rosemary's Baby," "The Stepford Wives"). Mark Gordon ("Speed," "Saving Private Ryan") and Ken Raskoff ("The Moving of Sophia Myles," "Labor of Love") are the executive producers for Fox Television Studios.

"Jackie Collins' Hollywood Wives" (Sunday, October 19), based on Collins' international best-selling novel, stars Farrah Fawcett, Melissa Gilbert and Robin Givens. Here, Collins revisits the world of her biggest hit and introduces a new generation of Hollywood women who are driven by fame, fortune and lust in a culture that thrives on glitz, glamour and greed. Lissa Roman (Fawcett), Taylor Singer (Gilbert) and Kyndra (Givens) are the new Hollywood wives, all of whom lead very complicated lives. Lissa is a film and music superstar whose new blockbuster is about to premiere. She's also about to finally kick out her younger, hunky husband whose been playing around on her. For protection, she hires a sexy private investigator and the sparks fly between them. Lissa also wrestles with the effect her daughter's impending marriage will have on her own image. Taylor Singer (Gilbert) is a former actress, now struggling to be a movie producer, who is married to a very successful director who would prefer that she just take care of him. Taylor is also cheating on her husband with a young screenwriter who is supposed to be helping her with her screenplay. Kyndra is a sultry soul-singer who is the best friend and confidant to both Lissa and Taylor, though her own daughter would like to be closer to her. Together, these women experience the triumphs and tragedies that come with Hollywood's most infamous territory. Renee Valente ("Blind Ambition"), Jackie Collins and Tom Patricia ("The Linda McCartney Story") are the executive producers for Patriarch Pictures.

"The Reagans" (November, exact date TBA) stars Emmy Award-winner Judy Davis ("Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows") in a fact-based drama that examines the triumphs and tragedies of the extraordinary, iconic couple and their family set against the backdrop of the political world of the 1980s. When a fading actor named Ronald Reagan encounters a young starlet named Nancy Davis (Davis) on a movie set in 1949, the history of the world is forever changed. As one of the most celebrated unions of our time, Ronnie and Nancy journey from the glamorous soundstages of Hollywood to the rocky political terrain of Washington trying, sometimes in vain, to keep their blended family intact. Reagan's years in office are explored, including the Iran-Contra hearings, the end of the Cold War and the assassination attempt on his life. Ultimately, however, this is the story of an enduring and passionate love affair -- a love spanning four decades that was so encompassing that it often excluded everything around them, including their own children. Executive Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who produced the Oscar and Golden Globe winning Best Picture of the Year, "Chicago," re-team with "Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows" director Robert Allan Ackerman for Storyline Entertainment in association with Sony Pictures Television.

"Surviving Love" (air date TBA) stars Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Polly Holliday and Bonnie Bartlett in a romantic drama about a long-married couple on the verge of divorce who rediscover their love for each other during a freak snowstorm. After their daughter's wedding, George and Clem Bell (Danson and Steenburgen) have been married for 20 years and seem to have the perfect relationship. But, in fact, they are on the verge of breaking up and, after their daughter's wedding, decide to take a road trip in order to work out the details of their impending divorce without the interference of greedy lawyers. Everything is going as planned until a snowstorm causes them to lose their direction and they wind up stranded. Fearing the worst, that they will never be found, they begin to open up to one another in a way they haven't in many years and reveal the sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic truth about themselves and their marriage. Polly Holiday plays Mamma Bell, Clem's flamboyant mother and Bonnie Bartlett plays Kate, George's more conservative parent. Pulitzer Prize-winner Beth Henley ("Crimes of the Heart," "Miss Firecracker") wrote the screenplay. Keri Selig ("The Stepford Wives," "Vibe's History of Hip Hop"), Michael Jaffe and Howard Braunstein ("Ice Bound," "The Rosa Parks Story") are the executive producers for Intuition Productions in association with Jaffe/Braunstein Films.

"Raising Waylon" (air date TBA) stars Thomas Gibson, Poppy Montgomery and Doris Roberts in a romantic comedy about two people who discover many surprising things about themselves and each other when they unexpectedly become the parents of their pint-sized godchild. Since his parents passed away, 9-year-old Waylon (Jeremy Bergman) has been in the care of his Aunt Marie (Roberts), a dedicated environmentalist and nature lover who adores her nephew but believes that, to really thrive, he should move out of her retirement village and live with his godparents -- who are single and live separately. Though terrified at the sudden prospect of taking responsibility for raising a child, godparents Julia (Montgomery) and Reg (Gibson) decide that as hip, intelligent adults, they'll be able to figure out how to make it work. However, Julia and Reg, who once had a disastrous date 10 years ago, are each accustomed to their self-centered lifestyles. Since they aren't a couple and barely even get along, Julia and Reg soon discover that, for the first time in their lives, they need to put aside their differences and put someone else first. And, if they want Waylon to grow up right, they are going to have to grow up first. Dan Wigutow ("Peter Benchley's The Beast," "In A Child's Name") is the executive producer for Sony Pictures Television.

"Scott Turow's Reversible Errors" (air date TBA), based on his best-selling novel, is a drama about a corporate lawyer whose world is turned upside-down when he is assigned to draft the final appeal of a death-row inmate, Rommy Gandolf, who confessed to a brutal triple homicide a decade earlier. Arthur Raven is convinced that his client is guilty until a disgraced former judge, Gillian Sullivan, gives him a letter from a man admitting to the crime. What then appears to be an open and shut case is in fact only the beginning as Arthur and Gillian delve into the details. As they unravel the twisted threads of the horrific crime, they eventually find redemption not only for Gandolf, but for themselves as well. Frank von Zerneck, Robert Sertner ("Tempted," "Heart of a Stranger") and Mike Robe ("Shake, Rattle and Roll") are the executive producers for von Zerneck/Sertner Films.

"John Christmas" (air date TBA), starring Valerie Bertinelli, Peter Falk, David Cubitt and William Russ, is heartwarming holiday drama about a woman who searches for her brother, a former fireman hero, who has come back after mysteriously disappearing many years before. Hank McAllister (Russ) just wants to slip into town and leave quietly, but that becomes impossible when a picture of him wrapping a tattered American flag around a shivering dog is splashed on the cover of the local newspaper as the "face of Christmas." The paper offers a reward for his identity and whereabouts, labeling him "John Christmas." Everyone wants to find this mysterious man, particularly Kathleen (Bertinelli), who believes that this anonymous man is her brother who disappeared 25 years earlier, and Noah (Cubitt), the photographer whose photo started it all. Along the way, Hank, Kathleen and Noah unite with help from an angel named Max (Falk, reprising his role from the CBS movie "A Town Without Christmas"). Daniel H. Blatt ("A Town Without Christmas," "Miracle on the 17th Green") is the executive producer for Daniel H. Blatt Productions, Inc.

"Undercover Christmas" (air date TBA) stars Jami Gertz and Tyne Daly in an unlikely love story that takes place at Christmas time about an uptight FBI agent who is assigned to protect a colorful cocktail waitress after she turns her billionaire boyfriend into the authorities for tax fraud. Jake Cunningham (Shawn Christian) is a workaholic FBI agent who meets Brandi O'Neill (Gertz) when he is assigned to protect her from possible harm prior to her appearance in court to testify. He initially plans to take her to an isolated location but an emergency call from his mother, Anne (Daly), forces him to go home at Christmas with Brandi in tow. Once there, to keep her identity a secret, Jake and Brandi pose as a couple, a situation that sends his ultra-conservative family into shock. His father, from whom Jake has never gotten any approval, is particularly disdainful of the situation. Anne tries desperately to smooth things over with her husband as Brandi begins to win the family members' affection and admiration. Jake, meanwhile, is caught between his obligation to his job, pressure from his family and the realization that his feelings for Brandi are beginning to change. Howard Braunstein, Michael Jaffe ("Surviving Love") and Darrah Cloud ("The Sons of Mistletoe") are the executive producers for Jaffe/Braunstein Films, Ltd. In association with Voice Pictures.

"Fallen Angel" (air date TBA) stars Gary Sinise and Joely Richardson in a new "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation about a driven big-city lawyer who reluctantly returns to his small hometown and, when he reconnects with a woman he'd known as a child, discovers that it's never too late to forgive -- or to love. After his father dies, Terry McQuinn (Sinise) travels back home thinking that he will spend a few days there to settle the man's affairs. His visit is prolonged when he becomes involved with Katherine (Richardson), now the mother of a young child herself, who lost her own father when she was very young and a terrible accident caused him to run away from his family. Terry tries to help Katherine reunite with her father and, in the process, learns a lot about his own parent. As the two becomes closer and closer, Terry's priorities begin to shift and he realizes the things that are truly important in life. Richard Welsh ("A Painted House") is the executive producer for Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions.

"Plainsong" (air date TBA) stars Aidan Quinn and Rachel Griffiths in a new "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation, based on the New York Times best-selling novel by Ken Haruf, that focuses on the emotional growth and changes that occur over a year's time in the lives of eight very different people who inhabit a small town in rural Colorado. Tom Guthrie (Quinn) is a dedicated high school teacher and soon-to-be-divorced father of two young boys all of whom are trying to adjust to the change in their family. Maggie Jones (Griffiths), also a teacher, is a compassionate divorcee who reaches out to Tom during his period of adjustment. She also aids Victoria Roubideaux (America Ferrara), a troubled, pregnant teenager whose own mother has disowned her, by placing her in the home of two gruff bachelor brothers, Harold and Raymond McPheron, with the goal that all three will learn and ultimately benefit by the experience. At school, Guthrie must deal with a troubled student whose violent behavior creates a tricky situation for him both professionally and personally that must be resolved. In the end, all of them are moved and changed by the interesting and unexpected events that come their way. Richard Welsh ("The Locket") is the executive producer for Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions.

Among the theatrical motion pictures CBS will present during the season are "Ali," starring Will Smith and Jon Voight; "Along Came a Spider," starring Morgan Freeman and Penelope Ann Miller; "Hannibal," starring Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore; "Miss Congeniality," starring Sandra Bullock, Michael Caine, Benjamim Bratt and Candice Bergen; "The Patriot," starring Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger; "Pay It Forward," starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment; "Proof of Life," starring Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe; "Swordfish," starring John Travolta, Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry; "Thirdteen Days," starring Kevin Costner, and "What Women Want" (Sunday, October 26), starring Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt and Marisa Tomei.





  [july 2003]  
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· BLESSINGS (CBS)
· FALLEN ANGEL (CBS)
· FINDING JOHN CHRISTMAS (CBS)
· FOOTSTEPS (CBS)
· HEART OF A STRANGER (LIFETIME)
· ICE BOUND: A WOMAN'S SURVIVAL AT THE SOUTH POLE (CBS)
· IT MUST BE LOVE (CBS)
· JACKIE COLLINS' HOLLYWOOD WIVES: THE NEXT GENERATION (CBS)
· LIFE WITH JUDY GARLAND: ME AND MY SHADOWS (ABC)
· LINDA MCCARTNEY STORY, THE (CBS)
· LOCKET, THE (CBS)
· MIRACLE ON THE 17TH GREEN (CBS)
· MOVING OF SOPHIA MYLES, THE (CBS)
· OPEN HOUSE (CBS)
· PAINTED HOUSE, A (CBS)
· PLAINSONG (CBS)
· RAISING WAYLON (CBS)
· REAGANS, THE (SHOWTIME)
· ROSA PARKS STORY, THE (CBS)
· SCOTT TUROW'S REVERSIBLE ERRORS (CBS)
· SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROLL: AN AMERICAN LOVE STORY (CBS)
· SONS OF MISTLETOE (CBS)
· TEMPTED (LIFETIME)
· TOWN WITHOUT CHRISTMAS, A (CBS)
· TWELVE MILE ROAD (CBS)
· UNDERCOVER CHRISTMAS (CBS)
· VIBE HISTORY OF HIP HOP (HBO)





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