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The latest news from the TV beat

The latest news from the TV beat — ABC may remake ”South Pacific” with Glenn Close as the star, while American’s eagerly await ”Big Brother”’s debut

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Age of Consent

Perhaps the lyrics should be changed to ”Bali, Oh My!” Hollywood is abuzz over ABC’s plans to remake South Pacific — the WWII musical about a young American nurse, Nellie Forbush, who falls for an older French plantation owner — with 53-year-old Glenn Close donning the red cross and 53-year-old Rade Sherbedgia (Mission: Impossible 2) as her lover. (And, yes, Close will croon Pacific’s ingenue-esque lines like ”I’m as corny as Kansas in August.”) ”If you analyze the lyrics,” says one source familiar with the project who’s skeptical of Close’s participation, ”it’s written for a naive young girl, not for a sophisticated woman.” But ABC’s exec VP of movies, Susan Lyne, isn’t convinced that Nellie’s gotta be girlish. ”Some people are stuck on Mitzi Gaynor playing this naive, ditzy Nellie,” Lyne says, in reference to the 1958 movie. ”Most of our audience has never seen South Pacific, or the movie version. We’ll be introducing it [to them] for the first time.” Guess you’re never too old to wash that man right out of your hair.

New York Stories

Star power is not only driving the networks’ lineups this fall, it’s also pushing the production community across the country. New prime-time stars like Bette Midler (CBS’ Bette), Gabriel Byrne (ABC’s Madigan Men), Christine Baranski (CBS’ Welcome to New York), and Oliver Platt (NBC’s Deadline) — along with Darren Star’s The Street for Fox and David Letterman’s NBC dramedy Ed — will shoot in New York. Hey, didn’t NBC once vow to avoid Big Apple-based series? ”With shows like [newspaper drama] Deadline, you don’t have much choice,” admits NBC’s senior VP of drama development Joann Alfano, adding that Ed is actually set in Ohio.

Musical Routes

Speaking of tune trends, word has it that NBC is also willing to produce musicals — and we don’t mean a choreographed sequel to The ’70s. In a departure from the old regime, sources say NBC exec VP of movies Steve White is open to hearing pitches a la Annie and Cinderella, though it’s doubtful the Peacock will become prime time’s Great White Way. ”Financially, it’s hard,” says one producer. ”The only reason ABC can do it is because of Disney” and its home video unit. Still, how about the cast of 3rd Rock From the Sun in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying?

And So On…

What has Americans most intrigued about CBS’ Big Brother, a Real World-style series based on a European show that debuts July 6? Unlike producers in the Netherlands (who worried about the psychological fallout) and Germany (who panicked over privacy issues), Americans seem most interested in the minicams in the bathroom. ”This country is obsessed with nudity,” says exec producer Paul Romer. Fortunately, Brother isn’t planning commode-centric scenes; producers say the toilet cams are only there to record private conversations. Score one for good taste.

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