Vlt’s always been a fast track for Stockard Channing, Grease’s run-around Pink Lady, but next year she’s really smoking. The 33-year-old Radcliffe-educated heiress, who went nowhere in 1975’s The Fortune, despite Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty, has signed a multimillion-dollar deal with CBS that includes her upcoming title role as the deaf stunt woman in The Kitty O’Neal Story. Next month she warms up The Stockard Channing Show as a young separated woman starting over in L.A. For that part, the twice-divorced Channing has some experience. But now she and her third husband, writer David Debin, have “the best of all possible worlds,” she explains. “He and I are co-producers.”
As the box office of the movie Animal House headed for the moon, every week became Rush Week in Televisionland. NBC is initiating Brothers and Sisters, with Jack Lemmon’s son, Chris, and Bing Crosby’s daughter, Mary Frances. CBS calls its rip-off Co-Ed Fever. But the heaviest may be ABC’s tentatively titled Animal Frat, with many of the film’s originals. The star is Josh Mostel (above), Zero’s kid, tapped to fill for the unavailable John Belushi (page 60) as Bluto’s id brother Blotto. Mostel, 32, attended Brandeis, adding, “I was in a sorority, but they threw me out after one night.”
Any series offering Marlon Brando’s first TV dramatic role hardly lacks star quality—but ABC’s $15 million Roots: The Next Generations also has Henry Fonda, Olivia de Havilland, Richard Thomas and James Earl Jones. Yet the stealer of the 14 hours in February is likely to be Debbi Morgan, 22, who has the longest part, aging from 18 to 83 as Alex Haley’s Great-Aunt Liz, who first told him about Kunta Kinte. The Bronx-raised Morgan, a veteran of commercials (Kodak) and guest shots (Love Boat), gets a scene with Charles Weldon, the actor with whom she shares a beach duplex near Santa Monica. “What’s happening to me,” she gushes, “it’s like, wow!”
Natalie Wood plays Deborah Kerr and William Devane is Burt Lancaster in NBC’s mini remake of From Here to Eternity, but censors scrubbed any skinny-dip. Then came the real dash of cold water: Kim Basinger, cast in the Donna Reed hooker part, declared she’ll do the six hours of Eternity but wants out if it goes weekly. It may all be a negotiating ploy from Kim, a stickout in Dog and Cat and Katie: Portrait of a Centerfold, but, at 24, she’s a supermodest ex-Junior Miss from Georgia. One other possibility: Coming back this spring in another NBC movie, at 57 and after a 13-year breather, is Donna Reed herself.
Just because it’s the story of a working-class kid named Tony who comes alive dancing disco, and just because there’s a Bee Gees-esque title tune, and just because the star is named Travolta, no one should think ABC’s Makin’ It was inspired by Saturday Night Fever. “The series has more substance than the movie,” defends Ellen Travolta, 39, John’s eldest sister, who’s the mother on the show to co-stars Greg Antonacci, 30ish (right), and David Naughton, 27. Ellen was the original Travolta trouper on Broadway before dropping out 14 years ago to raise two kids. “Being John’s sister is a wonderful handle,” she kids herself. “Now wouldn’t it be wonderful if she had talent too!”