August 18, 1997 12:00 PM

Showtime (Sun., Aug. 17, 9 p.m. ET)


This admirable remake of Reginald Rose’s 1954 Emmy-winning drama about a jury hopelessly deadlocked over a murder case updates the original in at least one respect: These are no longer 12 angry white men. Four of the jurors are black (indeed, the angriest, rivetingly portrayed by Forrest Gump’s Mykelti Williamson, has been turned into a Black Muslim). But, race and gender aside (adding a female juror would have ruined the title), the play still holds up as an actor’s field of dreams. Besides Williamson, director William Friedkin (The Exorcist) has assembled a peerless panel including Jack Lemmon, disarmingly low-key as the initial lone holdout for acquittal; George C. Scott as his dyspeptic main adversary; Hume Cronyn as a wizened yet wise old codger; and Tony Danza as a loudmouthed palooka antsy for a verdict so he can take himself out to a ball game. Good as this cast is, though, it can’t match the ensemble in Sidney Lumet’s Oscar-nominated 1957 film version with Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cobb in the Lemmon and Scott roles.

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