The appearance of a 38-year-old John Wayne movie in a syndicated package sold to television stations around the country hardly seems like big news. But the story behind "Hondo" is a bit different.
This 1953 Wayne film will be shown Monday night at 9 o'clock on Channel 13 (WJZ) in its original version. That doesn't mean uncut footage has been restored, that means it's in 3-D.
As Michael Wayne, the Duke's son, explained over the phone from Los Angeles recently, when "Hondo" was made, 3-D was enjoying one of its periodic surges of popularity. By the time the film was released, however, the thrill of wearing two-tone glasses to the movies had worn off.
"I think it only ran about a week and a half in a couple of theaters in 3-D," Wayne said. "Then there was a great demand for it and they sent it out to the other theaters in regular prints."
Well-reviewed at the time, "Hondo" was based on Louis L'Amour's first best-seller. It featured Geraldine Page, in a role that garnered her a supporting actress Oscar nomination, Ward Bond and a young James Arness.
It's being returned to its 3-D format in a new process called Naturalvision, which requires its own particular type of glasses. They are now being sold in local Giant food stores and at Hardee's restaurants, with the bulk of the proceeds from the glasses sale nationwide going to the Leukemia Society.
"The Wayne family has been very active in the fight against cancer, especially since the death of my father," Wayne said. "We were looking for something to do along those lines, and then we heard about this new 3-D process and it all came together at the right time."
"Hondo" is one of four John Wayne films that the family controls because they were made by his family company, Batjac Productions. As with the others -- "McClintock," "The High and the Mighty" and "Island in the Sky" -- the distribution of "Hondo" has been very limited.
"I think it was shown once on the network and maybe had one syndication and one cable showing, if that," Wayne said. "The way you make the most money on something like this is to release it on cassette first, then sell it to cable, then to syndication. But we saw an opportunity to do something for the Leukemia Society doing it this way."
Wayne said that the 3-D process being used does not make the film unwatchable without the glasses, always the main drawback to 3-D on television.
"If you had a regular print next to the Naturalvision print, you could tell the difference.But just watching it without anything to compare it to,I don;t think you'll notice," he said.
But,Wayne also noted that the 3-D process will not be picked up by videocassettes becouse the tape can't capture all the information needed.So maybe " Hondo" does still have a cassette sale in its future.
ABC has an unusual deal in the works. "Hi Honey, I'm Home" will start a six-week run on Friday, July 19. This is a co-production with the cable channel Nickelodeon, which will run the episodes on the weekend following the ABC showing.
It's also an unusual show as it's about a '90s family living its standard suburban life until a '50s sitcom family -- the Nielsens -- from a canceled series moves in next door as participants in the Sitcom Relocation Program.
ABC has scheduled only six of the shows, but Nickelodeon is making 13 at its studios in Orlando, Fla.