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The latest news from the TV beat

”Movie Stars,” Jenna Elfman and ABC made news the week of May 8, 1998

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OH, BROTHER
Not too many sitcom pilots pack such star power as Stallone, Travolta, and Swayze, but The WB’s Movie Stars does. Well, sort of. The sitcom, which has a good shot at making the network’s fall schedule, features Harry Hamlin and Jennifer Grant (the daughter of Cary Grant and Dyan Cannon) as Bruce and Demi-style celebs struggling to raise their family in a normal environment.

One of the running subplots on the show will be a gag about the couple’s less successful siblings. Mark Benninghofen, the actor who plays Hamlin’s underappreciated brother, is shown commiserating with the real-life likes of Joey Travolta, Frank Stallone, and Don Swayze.

”They’re the bitter brothers who’ve lost their own identities,” says executive producer Jonathan Axelrod, stepson of screenwriter George Axelrod (The Manchurian Candidate, Breakfast at Tiffany’s). Proving to be a good sport, the lesser Stallone even offered to punch up jokes about his more famous brother. ”If I could get this group every week, it’d be great,” says Axelrod. If not, he’ll just have to pick from the multitude of Hollywood’s other overshadowed siblings. Clint Howard, call your agent.

SHIKS-APPEAL
According to a study by the Morning Star Commission, which seeks to foster more diverse portrayals of Jewish women in the media, Dharma & Greg‘s Jenna Elfman is the only such positive image on TV. But don’t uncork the Manischewitz just yet. The reason Elfman got the nod is in part because of her ”non-Jewish appearance.”

”Jewish women are the easiest to stereotype,” explains Morning Star chairwoman Joan Hyler, who points to The Nanny‘s Fran Drescher as the prime example of a negative TV depiction. ”Fran’s hilarious, but when that’s all the country sees, it plays into all the stereotypes. Why do I have to be a consuming yenta?”

AND SO ON
Hampered by creative snafus, Mary Tyler Moore’s comeback sitcom for ABC will likely get pushed to mid-season, if it gets off the ground at all… CBS has picked up Kids Say the Darndest Things and Candid Camera for another season.

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