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[12/18/03 - 12:00 AM]
ABC Schedules Three Originals for 2004
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- Two blondes, the life of a child star and Judas will be the respective subjects of three new telefilms at ABC come for the first quarter of 2004. The Alphabet announced air dates and official synopses of each project this afternoon.

Here's a breakdown of each, taken from the network's press release about the trio:

ROMY AND MICHELE: IN THE BEGINNING
(Saturday, February 14 at 9:00/8:00c)

First up is "Romy and Michele: In the Beginning," the prequel to the 1997 feature film, "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion." The story begins in 1987, when new high school graduates Romy and Michele are desperate to get away from their hometown of Tucson, Arizona. The goal of this lovable and lucky duo is to leave their square town behind and be among the beautiful, hip people in Hollywood, California, where they can realize their dream of socializing with the rich and famous. The two-hour ABC Premiere Event will air SATURDAY, FERUARY 14 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. "Romy and Michele: In the Beginning" stars Katherine Heigl ("Roswell") as Romy, Alex Breckinridge as Michele, Paula Abdul as herself, Nat Faxon as Chad, Scott Vickaryous as Taylor, Kelly Brook as Linda Facciabella, Dania as Elena, Alexandra Billings as Donna, Rhea Seehorn as Ashley Schwartz, DJ Johnson as Rafael and William Ragsdale as Kevin. Robin Schiff, who wrote the screenplay of "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion," is also screenwriter, executive producer and director on "Romy and Michele: In the Beginning." Barry Kemp is executive producer and Kevin Inch is the producer. The two-hour prequel is from Touchstone Television.

THE MYSTERY OF NATALIE WOOD
(Monday, March 1 at 8:00/7:00c)

Next up is the ABC Premiere Event, "The Mystery of Natalie Wood," airing MONDAY, MARCH 1 (8:00-11:00 p.m., ET), which takes an in-depth look at the life of one of Hollywood's brightest stars whose light was extinguished much too soon. Acclaimed director Peter Bogdanovich ("The Last Picture Show," "Paper Moon," "What's Up, Doc?") helmed the three-hour dramatization, and newcomer Justine Waddell ("Dracula 2000," "Mansfield Park") stars as Natalie Wood. From her start in the business at a very young age with a domineering mother, her leap from being a popular childhood star to a mature actress, her roller-coaster love life, her marriage to Robert Wagner and her life-long fear of water, Natalie Wood was always destined to become a legend. But at what price this fame? Real-life friends, family and acquaintances from Natalie's past, including actors Margaret O'Brien and Robert Vaughn and director Henry Jaglom, were interviewed about their experiences with the actress, and appear throughout the film. "The Mystery of Natalie Wood" stars Justine Waddell as Natalie Wood, Michael Weatherly as Robert Wagner, Matthew Settle as Warren Beatty, Colin Friels as Nick Gurdin, Elizabeth Rice as Natalie (age14), Grace Fulton as Natasha (ages 4-6), Robert Taylor as Nicholas Ray and Alice Krige as Maria Gurdin. The film is executive-produced by Suzanne Finstad, Robert M. Sertner, Frank von Zerneck and Gerald W. Abrams. Richard Fischoff and Randy Sutter are the producers. The teleplay is by Elizabeth Egloff. Lana Wood, Natalie's sister, was a co-producer, along with Ted Babcock, Peter Sadowski and Michael Goldstein. "The Mystery of Natalie Wood" is from Cypress Point Productions in association with Von Zerneck/Sertner Films.

JUDAS
(Monday, March 8 at 9:00/8:00c)

And finally, "Judas," perhaps the most complex character in the Gospels, the disciple-turned-betrayer -- a man who walked with Jesus, only to later turn him in for fifty pieces of silver. "Judas," airing as an ABC Premiere Event on MONDAY, MARCH 8 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network, covers the two years Judas spent with Jesus, years marked by political unrest as wellas spiritual awakening. The historical dramatization takes a unique look at an age-old story and provides a view into the heart and mind of Judas. It is the intimate story of a man who wants something from Jesus he cannot have, and who cannot accept what Jesus does offer. "Judas" is the final project of the late Father Ellwood "Bud" Kieser, C.S.P. - founder of the Humanitas Prize and Paulist Productions. Starring in "Judas" are Johnathon Schaech as Judas, Jonathan Scarfe as Jesus and Tim Matheson as Pilate. "Judas" is executive-produced by multi-Emmy Award-winning writer/producer Tom Fontana ("Homicide: Life on the Streets," "Oz"), who also wrote the screenplay. Frank Desiderio, C.S.P., president of Paulist Productions and the Humanitas Prize, also serves as executive producer of the film. The film, under the Paulist Productions banner, is directed by Charles Robert Carner. Ann Wingate is the producer. "Judas" is distributed by Paramount Network Television.





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· JUDAS (ABC)
· MYSTERY OF NATALIE WOOD, THE (ABC)
· OZ (HBO)
· ROMY AND MICHELE: IN THE BEGINNING (ABC FAMILY)
· ROSWELL (UPN)





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