The Early Line on 1989

As the Decade Takes a Final Bow, A Guide to the Hot Happenings in the New Year, Beginning with Don't Miss Movies



As the decade takes a final bow, Brando bounces back, Roy Orbison returns, Fergie turns author, and it’s farewell to Family Ties. Herewith a guide to the hot happenings ahead in the new year, beginning with the scene on the big screen.

Goodness Gracious: Jerry Lee Lewis is not exactly Everybody’s All-American, but as an enthusiastic musician, Dennis Quaid segued smoothly into the role of the rock and roll star for Great Balls of Fire. “Am I going to like this picture?” Lewis asked the producer. “Probably not,” came the reply. “You’re right,” said the Killer. “You could do my life story with nothing in it but weddings and funerals.” (July)

Answered Prayers: Did Jane Fonda the daily do or what? Her leading man in Old Gringo is Gregory Peck, while her bicycling partner in Stanley and Iris is Robert De Niro. Starring with both Peck and De Niro in the same year, says Jane, “is the kind of thing, as an actress, that you pray for.” (Both Fall)

Bank On It: Steven Spielberg has shrouded the release of the third (and supposedly the last) Indiana Jones saga with the usual secrecy. Here’s what we do know: It stars Harrison Ford and was shot in England and Spain. Sean Connery will be introduced as Indy’s dad. The film will be called Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade and reportedly is closer in spirit to the lighthearted Raiders of the Lost Ark than the ill-tempered Temple of Doom. Oh, yes, we’re positive about one more thing: This movie will make a pile of money. (May)

Danza in the Dark: What’s a single daddy to do? His teenage daughter has gone from wallflower to femme fatale overnight, and Dad doesn’t know how to cope. That’s the situation facing Tony Danza in Daddy’s Little Girl, co-starring Ami Dolenz as the teen temptress. Once again, Danza seems to be facing the perennial question: Who’s the boss? (Feb.)

How to Land a Marlon: What lures Marlon Brando from Tahiti to do a film—the reported multimillion-dollar salary or a good city traffic am? Whatever. The Big One, formerly the Wild One, will play a South African lawyer in A Dry White Season. (March)

Rodeo Drive, She Said: The operative word here seems to be “wacky.” Or is it “tacky”? In Troop Beverly Hills Shelley Long plays a Beverly Hills matron going through a divorce who agrees to lead her daughter’s troop of bored, spoiled Wilderness Girls. Betty Thomas plays the power-mad Wilderness Girl leader. Can you really start a fire by rubbing two pieces of jewelry together? (Feb.)

Back to the Present: And yet another reincarnation/ghost story. This time, in Chances Are, Robert Downey Jr. returns with a new identity 23 years after his death—which happened on the first anniversary of his marriage to Cybill Shepherd. Ryan O’Neal plays the best man who has a hankering for the lovely widow. Director Emile (Dirty Dancing) Ardolino says the movie is “about real relationships and real emotions.” Sounds like a real stretch, but who knows? (March)

Jockeying for Position: John Candy, that renowned master of nuanced comic acting, stars in Who’s Harry Crumb? To answer the question: He’s an inept private detective who bumbles and bungles his way through a kidnapping investigation in disguise after obvious disguise. (Feb.)

Beehive of Activity: They laughed; they cried. They lived; they died. The six very verbal Louisiana women have made Steel Magnolias an off-Broadway hit. Now the beauty parlor comedy-drama is coming to the big screen, with a sextet of big names: Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis and Julia Roberts. Director Herbert Ross is sounding overconfident: “The movie,” he says, “is stronger than the play and a lot richer.” (Oct.)


If there’s a discernible theme in this year’s movie crop, it’s Roman numerals. William Shatner directed Star Trek V; The Final Frontier. (June) There will also be The Fly II (Feb.), Lethal Weapon II (Fall) and—try to restrain yourselves now—Police Academy VI. (Spring)…

Paul Newman stars in Fat Man and Little Boy as Gen. Leslie Groves, who oversaw the creation of the A-bomb. (Fall)…

And, finally, the fabulous Bridges boys, Beau and Jeff, play small-time piano players who take on a female singer (Michelle Pfeiffer) to resurrect their lounge act in The Fabulous Baker Boys. (Fall)

The Early Line On 1989


In which Family Ties are severed, Oprah Winfrey does a little night work, PBS goes back in time, and a Lonesome Dove takes wing

Past-Breaking News: PBS’ odd premise—what if TV had been present throughout world history?—has become a 26-part series. Called Timeline, the show covers events like the Viking invasions and the Black Death. The producer quotes Winston Churchill in explaining the idea: “The further backward you can look, the further forward you can see.” (Feb.)

Weighty Issue: Shot before her recent loss of 60 lbs., Oprah Winfrey‘s prime-time drama premiere is in ABC’s The Women of Brewster Place. The four-hour movie also features Robin Givens, Cicely Tyson and Paul Winfield. Set in an urban tenement in the 1950s, the seven main female characters deal with racism, sexism, violence, poverty and their own unrealized dreams. (Spring)

Quitting Time: After seven seasons, the Keaton family is finally disbanding this spring. Since its shaky first season in 1982, the show has risen steadily in the ratings and in stature. Along the way, one episode won an Emmy (for Best Writing), and the series also made Alex, Michael J. Fox, a superstar. Michael Gross, who plays Father Keaton, admits that he will be relieved when it’s over: “We will have done 174 episodes of Family Ties, and that’s enough Steven Keaton for me.” Happily for viewers who feel differently, the show is sure to have a long run in syndication.

Burt’s Cop-out: By the time his adopted baby, Quinton, was 3 months old, Burt Reynolds had already decided to get back to work. In six two-hour movies made for ABC, he plays B.L. Stryker, a New Orleans cop who returns home to Florida. The Tom Selleck-produced movies sound autobiographical. Like Burt, Stryker has an ex-wife (Rita Moreno) and played college football before an injury changed his life. Pure Reynolds, and it’s a wrap. (Unscheduled)

Winging It: Lonesome Dove, adapted from Larry McMurtry’s sweeping 1985 novel, rides onto the tiny screen as an eight-hour miniseries on CBS. With a herd of talent, including Anjelica Huston, Robert Duvall, Diane Lane and Robert Urich, the story follows two retired Texas Rangers and a band of misfits on a dusty cattle drive. (Feb.)

War Fare: With Ben Kingsley playing renowned Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, Craig T. Nelson as the Allied officer who liberates him from a concentration camp and a script by Abby (Judgment at Nuremburg) Mann, HBO promises a gripping true-to-life film with Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story. Says Kingsley: “It’s dramatic, moving and has a passionate intensity that, I as an actor, I’m addicted to.” (April)

Grandfather Claws: Just because the title of this NBC movie is Original Sin, don’t think that Charlton Heston is starring in another biblical epic. Actually, Ann Jillian portrays the mother of a little boy who is kidnapped by a Mafia don (Heston), who, it turns out, is also the boy’s grandfather. The whole idea sounds a little like Kramer vs. Kramer Meets the Godfather. (Feb.)

Skimpy Plot: About the time SPORTS ILLUSTRATED publishes its annual swim-suit exposé, NBC plans to air Swimsuit, a TV movie starring Catherine (Dynasty) Oxenburg and Tom (Heartbreak Ridge) Villard. As reps for a failing swim-suit company, the stars prowl a Hawaiian beach in search of the perfect model. The film is, in Villard’s words, “a good excuse for showing a lot of lovely flesh.” Including, of course, Oxenburg’s. Hormonal discretion advised. (Feb.)


Is everyone up for TV from Down Under? Well, CBS certainly hopes so. Their lineup includes a mid-season replacement called Dolphin Cove, starring Frank Converse, as well as Live-In, a high-concept sitcom in which an American teen falls for a gorgeous Australian au pair…

The Ubiquitous Award goes to Robert Urich. In addition to Lonesome Dove, he’s also in an NBC movie tentatively called Lady Be Good and CBS’ The Comeback. (Both Jan.)…

Also watch for: Vanessa Williams as a call girl in NBC’s The Sex Tapes (Feb.) and Valerie Harper in a CBS sitcom currently called Desperate Women, which, as anyone would guess, is about a large Italian family in Brooklyn.

The Early Line On 1989


Actresses, comics and even a royal are bursting into print. Oh, yes, a few full-time authors will be heard from as well

How to Pass Your Barr Exam: In Stand Up! My Life as a Woman, Roseanne Barr tells how she progressed from a scrappy life working Denver comedy clubs to network stardom. But don’t expect a straightforward gags-to-riches story; Barr also includes tidbits about her Jewish childhood in Mormon Utah, on how not to lose weight, 20 “important” hot-dog recipes and her fantasies about Mel Gibson and Woody Allen. You can sit down now. (May)

Fergie Takes a Flier: It’ll be a few years before Baby Bea is able to read, but when she can, she might just start with books by her mum, the Duchess of York. Fergie has written two children’s books about a helicopter called Budgie, which also feature a single-engined plane called Pippa the Piper. There’s no reason to think Fergie’s foray into fiction won’t fly; after all, she learned how to pilot a real chopper after just 43 hours of instruction. (Fall)

Fighting Back: “Cancer,” says Gilda Radner, “is about the most unfunny thing in the world.” Yet Radner manages to preserve her sense of humor in writing about her own struggle with the disease. In It’s Always Something Radner describes her battle with ovarian cancer. She poignantly details the treatments and encouragement provided by her husband, Gene Wilder, and by fellow cancer sufferers in a therapy group. Radner’s cancer is now in remission. (June)

Foul Play: In the world according to John Irving, characters have little control over their destinies. Hence, the hero of A Prayer for Owen Meany is not surprised when he kills his best friend’s mother with a foul ball during a Little League game; Owen, 11, simply believes he is God’s instrument. Owen becomes a victim and the principal actor in a perversely divine plan. (March)

Post-Purple Prose: “I do not find it easy to talk about it,” says Alice Walker about The Temple of My Familiar, her first book since 1982’s The Color Purple. Walker’s ambitious new work is “about the last 500,000 years and about people relating to each other and to animals and to the spirit.” No wonder it’s difficult to talk about. (May)

A Mother’s Other Invention: Famed for his outlandish lyrics and iconoclastic style, Frank Zappa was not about to trite-write a standard showbiz autobiography. The Real Frank Zappa Book offers his inimitable views on rock and roll, cigarettes, beer, televangelists, marriage, even politics. “I’m a basic dyed-in-the-wool conservative in that I want smaller government and smaller taxes,” explains the father of the Mothers of Invention. He also reveals that the name on son Dweezil’s original birth certificate was Ian Donald Calvin Euclid Zappa. Maybe Dweezil isn’t so bad after all. (May)

Off His Rocker: “It has a different kind of nerve than Ragtime,” says E.L. Doctorow of his seventh novel, Billy Bathgate. The hero is a feisty 15-year-old boy who becomes the protégé of a Depression-era gangster and worms his way into a world of New York hit men, blues singers, socialites and politicians. “It’s a theological gangster novel. The question I’m investigating is what guilt, if any, the characters feel,” explains Doctorow. “It’s left up to the reader to decide.” (Feb.)

Season’s Greetings: David Halberstam spent a year interviewing baseball greats for his latest work, Summer of ’49. Joe DiMaggio, right, declined to chat with Halberstam, but the normally reticent Ted Williams talked for 12 hours. The book re-creates the memorable American League pennant race in which the Yankees edged the Red Sox on the final day of the season. The book was a labor of love for Halberstam. “I felt I should sublet my job,” he says, “because so many people wanted it.” (May)


After dissecting suburbia, witchcraft, African politics and middle-aged angst in his 32 books, John Updike scrutinizes himself in Self-Consciousness. (March)…

Watergate sleuth Carl Bernstein investigates “the last undisturbed corner of our national nightmare”—the witch-hunts of the McCarthy era and their effects on Bernstein’s own family in Loyalties: A Son’s Memoir. (Feb.)…

And lastly, from our Shirley, You Jest department, a book no new age traveler should be without—Shirley MacLaine’s Going Within: A Guide for Inner Transformation. MacLaine has written a kind of Rand McNally of meditation, crystallization, visualization and other oddball byways to the soul.


A new Car is unveiled, Paris burns, a King returns, a Russian lands: Brace yourself for debuts and comebacks aplenty

This Year’s Model: “It was just another band to me,” says Christopher Otcasek, 22, son of Cars frontman Ric Otcasek, of his pop’s techno-pop group. (Ric dropped the in his surname.) The Cars appear to have discontinued production, so all ears will be on Christopher’s self-titled first album to see if the new Otcasek is a chip off the old engine block. (Jan.)

Oh, Boy: After kicking his heroin habit in 1987, Boy George bounced back nicely later that year with an album called Sold. Reportedly still clean, the Boy is steadily rehabilitating his career. The dual strains are quite sufficient to bring on a Tense Nervous Head-ache, the title of a new album cut with the help of hip-hop producer Teddy Riley. (Feb.)

Changing Her Luck: Country singer Lacy J. Dalton’s first studio LP in three years, The Survivor, is full of I hard-luck stories. She wrote “Hard Luck Ace” about “some friends. The first verse is about Waylon Jenings not being on the plane in which Buddy Holly died.” The real survivor is Dalton, who weathered a three-year legal entanglement with CBS Records. (Jan.)

Carole’s Legacy: It has been 18 years since singer-songwriter Carole King wove her bewitching Tapestry, which stayed on the charts for an amazing six years. In 1982 she retreated to a ranch in Idaho to flee the music biz, and she made her last record five years ago. Now she returns with Legacy, an introspective album that includes a song that she cowrote with her onetime co-songwriter and first hubby, Gerry Goffin. (March)

How Good? Briton Mica (pronounced “Misha”) Paris, 19, literally floored Prince at a London concert last year when he brought her onstage to sing the Temptations’ “Just My Imagination.” “He was so overcome by her voice that he lay down onstage,” said one attendee. Mica’s debut LP. So Good, hit the charts at No. 6 in the U.K. and will reach our shores in Feb. Ah, but will we love Paris in the springtime?

Vanity Fare: Critics applauded his debut album, Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby, in 1987. But when D’Arby showed signs of believing his own overblown press clippings, the cheers turned to jeers. In light of the success of Hardline (2 million copies sold), D’Arby might consider calling his as-yet-untitled follow-up Introducing the Bottom Line. (Spring)

So Long: It’s his first solo album in 10 years, but Roy Orbison’s Mystery Girl will also be sadly remembered as his swan song. Orbison died of a heart attack last month, at 52. A couple of the famed falsetto’s fellow Wilburys, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty, wrote the LP’s first single, “You Got It,” and U2’s Bono and The Edge contribute another track. (Feb.)

How About Them Apples? After you’ve kissed a Prince, played a sultry rock star on Falcon Crest, led your own band and people still only talk about your, er, eyes, what’s a lady got to do to get some R-E-S-P-E-C-T? If you’re Apollonia, you cut an eponymous record of mindless dance tunes and announce you’re writing a screenplay about gang violence. (Jan.)

Idol Talk: Even though Billy Idol describes his new (untitled) record as “well-rounded and voluptuous,” news of the lip-curling rocker’s mellowing has been greatly exaggerated. Or so some of the titles on his forthcoming album would seem to suggest. “Trouble with the Sweet Stuff” and “Love Unchained” are just two examples of what’s on Billy’s mind. Sounds like a case of Idol hands doing the devil’s work. (Spring)

Red Alert: The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming! Boris Grebenshikov, the alleged Bob Dylan of the U.S.S.R., leads an invading wave of Red rockers. Most of the tracks on Boris’ Radio Silence are in English, and one critic reports that the LP, produced in L.A. by Eurythmic Dave Stewart, sounds like a cross between “the old Clash and Sgt. Pepper’s.” This we’ve got to hear.


Will They or Won’t They? There’s still talk of a Rolling Stones album and tour, unless their solo rivalry leads Keith and Mick to become Street Fightin’ Men first….

Peter Frampton’s hit of 13 years ago, Baby, I Love Your Way topped the charts again last year in a cover by Will to Power, paving the way for Frampton’s oft-delayed return to the LP scene with his first in seven years….

And on three other new releases: Madonna has a song about marriage provocatively called “Till Death Do Us Part” on Like a Prayer, Debbie Gibson wants to prove she’s more than just an Electric Youth; and Don Johnson asks the musical question, What If It Takes All Night?


This year also marks a new political era, a basketball great’s parting shot and other bits of noteworthy nostalgia…

Fashion Statement: The horses are gone now, replaced by the speedier steeds of the ’80s. It was 75 years ago that the enclave of Beverly Hills became an independent city. At the time, it was a tiny oil-company town. Since then, it has weathered Buddy Ebsen’s Hillbillies, Eddie Murphy and earthquakes. A yearlong celebration will culminate with the World’s Largest Fashion Show, in which Rodeo Drive will become a 2½-block-long runway for 1,000 models. Happy birthday to the toniest town in the West.

Snow Job: On Jan. 29 something will come to the snow-covered mountains of Colorado that hasn’t been there since 1950. No, it’s not John Denver with his mouth shut. It’s the World Alpine Ski Championships, being held in Vail. Olympic gold medalists Pirmin Zurbriggen and Alberto Tomba will try to win their favorite downhill specialties. And 24-year-old Swiss skier Vreni Schneider, below, is the one to beat in the women’s events. American ski bums and fans should a Vail themselves of this rare opportunity to watch the world’s best ski our home snow.

The George-ian Era: When George Bush is sworn in on Jan. 20, we will have more than a new Chief Executive. We will be inaugurating a whole new era in the White House. Gone will be the Valentinos, borrowed or otherwise, from the First Closet, replaced by the sensible clothes of down-to-earth Barbara Bush. Churchgoing, tennis and the trappings of Texas will be visible during the preppy Presidency. And a gaggle of grandchildren will tumble on the Great Lawn, where Grandpa says he may install 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue’s first ever horseshoe pit.

Ultimate Double Feature: Probably the best-loved and longest-running movie hits of all time, The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, celebrate their 50th anniversaries this year. GWTW will be feted with gala encore premieres at New York’s Radio City Music Hall (Jan. 30-31) and the L.A. County Museum of Art (Feb. 11). The Wizard’s anniversary will be highlighted by a U.S. tour of a musical stage show, produced by Ted Turner’s group, which owns the rights to both movies. Commemorative home videos of each film are being issued. Let’s hope the popcorn holds out.

A Net Loss: Twenty years (and many hair follicles) ago, Kareem Abdul Jabbar—then a 7’0″ UCLA sophomore named Lew Alcindor—was the best college basketball player in the land. Since then he has dominated the professional game like no one ever before. Now 41, Abdul-Jabbar is retiring, having played on six championship teams, won six MVP awards and set eight pro records. Sometime this spring, Kareem will loft one last sky hook heavenward and then leave the floor of L.A.’s Forum for the last time, thus concluding a 25-city farewell tour. The standing ovation, no matter how extended, will hardly begin to do justice to this marvelous athlete.


A Moment of Silents, please, for Charles Chaplin, born 100 years ago in London…. Coincidentally, the man Chaplin would later lampoon in The Great Dicator, Adolf Hitler, was born the same month in Braunau, Austria…

This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the unveiling of the 1,056-foot tall Eiffel Tower, designed by Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Paris World Exhibition….

First Down, Steppes to Go: USC and Illinois will meet on the football field on Sept. 2. That, in itself, is not unusual, but the venue—Moscow’s Dynamo Stadium—is. The game, the first ever played behind the Iron Curtain, is being called the Glasnost Bowl. Na zdorovye!

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