Stars welcome `Pond' dip

April 28, 2001|By Miki Turner | Miki Turner,FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM

It must be awfully daunting for two veteran actors to assume roles once played so wonderfully by a pair of screen icons from Hollywood's Golden Age. Even more so considering that they're going to do it live on CBS (WJZ, Channel 13) at 9 p.m. tomorrow.

But the stars of "On Golden Pond," Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, appearing together for the first time since the Academy Award-winning "The Sound of Music," are seemingly more excited than nervous about stepping into roles that won Oscars for Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn in 1981 on the big screen.

Both said they were up for the challenge.

"If we were awed by big parts in the theater - I think `On Golden Pond' is a modern classic - we would never do anything at all," says Plummer.

Adds Andrews: "The thing is, it's a play that's open to interpretations, and although I do think those performances on film were wonderful, this is the stage play and as such is open to interpretation."

Neither thespian is a stranger to live television. Plummer likens himself to a "'50s live television expert," having appeared in such shows as the "Hallmark Hall of Fame," "Producer's Showcase" and "The Alcoa Hour." Andrews played the lead role in a live version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Cinderella" in 1957.

"I think that we're hoping that we'll give the viewing audience the feeling that this is an evening just for them in the home - in the living room," says Andrews.

This version of Ernest Thompson's timeless love story about an aging married couple coming to grips with their mortality will differ slightly from the film version in that Thompson has added some dialogue and altered staging in adapting his play for the small screen. There will be no studio audience but there will be a small orchestra in an adjacent room playing live music.

"One of our objectives is to combine some of the best elements of film with the best elements of theater," says executive producer Craig Anderson.

Initially Plummer was so turned off by the sappy film version that he didn't want to play the part. But after reading the script and the terms of his contract, he decided to give it a go.

"The play is absolutely wonderful," he says, " ... totally different from the screen version."

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