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The top entertainment news for the week of October 25, 1996

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PARTY LINE:
It may be all about the inner workings of the New York City mayor’s office, but ABC’s Spin City, starring Michael J. Fox and Barry Bostwick, is surprisingly devoid of, well, politics. So even though Election Day is fast approaching, a Spin City spokeswoman says she is ”not aware of any plans” for the show to deal with the Bill Clinton-Bob Dole showdown on Nov. 5. That could be a good thing, considering that none of the cast members know which political party their characters adhere to. ”Politicians are there to do their thing. We’re a situation comedy,” says a bipartisan Richard Kind, who plays Paul Lassiter, the show’s out-of-the-loop press secretary. ”We want to entertain.” And we thought that was Ross Perot’s job.
Casey Davidson

NEW YORK STORY:
The death of Tupac Shakur propelled his album All Eyez on Me into the top 10, and now the slain rapper may give a similar boost to Fox’s New York Undercover. The urban cop drama will kick off sweeps competition with an Oct. 31 episode in which a gangsta rapper named Monster is killed in a drive-by shooting. While exec producer Dick Wolf (known for ”ripped from today’s headlines” plots on NBC’s Law & Order) says the idea for a show about a ”self-destructive rapper” came about last June, he admits the airdate of the episode was accelerated after Shakur’s death. ”This show generated a lot of internal discussion,” says Wolf, ”whether it was exploitative, whether it should have been made clear that it was or it wasn’t [Tupac].” NYU‘s production company, Universal Television, asked the show to take out references to the East Coast-West Coast feud that allegedly figured in Shakur’s killing. ”I tried to make sure the question was never answered about who actually killed [Monster],” says Judith McCreary, NYU‘s story editor, who wrote the episode. ”If I had a definite opinion [who killed Shakur], it wouldn’t be smart of me to say.”
Kristen Baldwin

TOUGH TALK:
Reports of audiences fainting during screenings of If These Walls Could Talk, HBO’s three-part abortion drama airing throughout October, prove the movie is not for the faint of heart. But the actresses spearheading Talk were determined to keep the film true to life. Two particular scenes — one in which Demi Moore attempts to end her pregnancy with a knitting needle, the other featuring a suction machine operated by an abortion doctor played by Cher — were the subject of much debate among HBO, Moore (one of Talk‘s exec producers), and Cher (who also directed her segment). ”We went back and forth over how much do you show,” says Moore of the needle scene. ”We felt it was important to push that envelope.” As for the machine, ”we fought about how loud it would be,” says Cher, who adds that in the end, ”I gave and they gave. I was amazed at how much courage HBO had in presenting this. We don’t pull any punches.” — Degen Pener

A SECOND FIRST:
Moviegoers and The First Wives Club have a marriage made in box office heaven. But don’t count on hearing wedding bells ring for a sequel. ”I’ve heard rumblings, but I sort of hope it doesn’t happen,” says First Wives‘ producer, Scott Rudin. ”I’ve only done two sequels [Sister Act 2 and Addams Family Values] and I sort of felt like ‘Why did we do these?’ None of us needed the money that badly.” And with Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, and Diane Keaton each linked to other upcoming films, a second trip down the aisle may be unlikely. ”If somebody comes up with a great plot, I’d certainly listen,” says Rudin. ”But I’m not going to be the one chasing it.”