'60s TV goes to the movies

It might seem as though the movie studios have mined all they can from classic television, but a few gems are still available.

February 28, 1999|By Rob Hiaasen | Rob Hiaasen,Sun Staff

There are no new ideas. Every new idea is related to an old idea -- maybe a close brother or distant cousin. This new story, for instance, is based on an old idea that was once a new story itself.

Take the movies. In just the past few years, many new movies have been based on old TV shows: "The Addams Family," "The Avengers," "The Brady Bunch," "Lost in Space," "Mission: Impossible" (sequel due this fall), "My Favorite Martian" (out now), and also coming this year, "The Mod Squad," "Dudley Do-Right," and "The Wild, Wild West" starring Will Smith. (Or is it Will Smith as Dudley Do-Right? ... well, whatever.)

The point is, TV shows of the 1960s have been an endless and curious source of 1990s entertainment. Industry experts could be asked to weigh in with their expert observations -- but hasn't that been written before? What is needed now is a new idea. So, how about three new ideas for three new movies based on three old TV shows?

"Father Knows Best"

Genre: Adult comedy

Rated: NC-17

Director: John Waters

Cast:

Jim Anderson............Kenneth Starr

Margaret Anderson.........Linda Tripp

Betty (Princess)......Monica Lewinsky

James (Bud)......................Mike Tyson

Kathy (Kitten)..................Traci Lords

History: Based on the situation comedy that starred the unflappable Robert Young, who played family patriarch Jim Anderson -- along with his wife, Margaret (Jane Wyatt), and their children. During its 1954-1963 network run, "Father Knows Best" was the classic wholesome family show.

Plot synopsis: The Anderson family of the Midwestern community of Springfield is rocked by scandal. Having inadvertently wire-tapped her daughter's phone, Mrs. Anderson discovers that Princess is "dating" the mayor of Springfield; Mr. Anderson posts bail for Bud who, after taking his father's Jeep Grand Cherokee, assaulted two elderly motorists who had failed to use their turn signals; also, Kitten's parents, while surfing the Internet, learn of their daughter's adult film career. Thanksgiving dinner ends in bloodshed.

Advance praise: "I laughed and cried until I stopped. Tyson is a chameleon! His turn as a troubled, explosive, criminal young man was the acting stretch of a career!"

-- Joel Siegel, "Good Morning America"

"Petticoat Junction"

Genre: Dramedy

Rated: R

Director: Martin Scorcese

Cast:

Kate Bradley...................Linda Tripp

Billie Joe Bradley...Pamela Anderson

Bobbie Jo Bradley...Gwyneth Paltrow

Betty Jo Bradley.........Sharon Stone

Uncle Joe...............................Joe Pesci

Sam Drucker...............Robert DeNiro

History: Based on the TV series that ran on CBS from 1963-1970. At the whistle-stop for the Cannonball train in the farming community of Hooterville, Kate Bradley ran the Shady Rest Hotel with the help of cranky Uncle Joe and her three beautiful daughters.

Plot synopsis: Departing from the TV series, Scorcese turns the Shady Rest Hotel into Hooterville's only casino. Business booms until Uncle Joe and general store owner Sam Drucker become involved with the same woman, Betty Joe Bradley (Stone). Sparks fly when Kate (Tripp, in her finest role in years) finds both men putting Cannonball conductor Floyd Smoot's head in a vice. Pilot Steve Elliott crashes outside Hooterville and is nursed back to health by Billie Joe (Anderson) before he is shot-gunned by a jealous Uncle Joe.

Advance praise: "Paltrow is wasted but Pam Anderson's turn as the sympathetic Billie Joe screams Oscar. And call him Uncle Joe Pesci!"

-- Joel Siegel, "Good Afternoon America"

"Mister Ed"

Genre: Comedy

Rated: PG-13

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast:

Wilbur Post........................Tom Hanks

Carol Post............................. Meg Ryan

Mister Ed...........................Linda Tripp

Voice of Mister Ed...............Larry King

History: Based on the 1961-1965 sitcom of the same name. Ed, a talking palomino, belonged to architect Wilbur Post, who was the only person Ed would talk to. Story lines involved Ed constantly getting Wilbur in trouble.

Plot synopsis: In this Spielberg romp set in Washington, the hi-jinks begin after Carol and Wilbur pick up Mister Ed at the taxidermist. Tears turn to laughs when Mister Ed's stuffed body, while aboard Wilbur's flat-bed truck, topples onto the Beltway, shatters, and jams traffic for six hours.

Advance praise: "Heart-pounding, hilarious, and ultimately satisfying. Spielberg's patented happy ending had the audience on its hoofs!"

-- Joel Siegel, "Good Night America"

Pub Date: 02/28/99

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