`Thorn Birds,' hot in the '80s, is hot today

New on DVD

Movies: on screen, DVD/ Video

February 19, 2004|By Diane Werts | Diane Werts,NEWSDAY

The DVD box for the new release of ABC's classic 1980s miniseries The Thorn Birds says it all. "Love. Unattainable. Forbidden. Forever."

Sucked in yet? Millions of viewers were, 20 years ago, when ambitious priest Richard Chamberlain lusted after a child beauty in rural Australia who grew up to be hot number Rachel Ward. This lush eight-hour epic, beautifully shot "on location" a few miles from Hollywood in Simi Valley, was packed with all the will-they, won't-they obstacles that made romantics swoon over love-laden miniseries.

Warner Home Video hopes it will still do the trick. The film still looks fabulous, with the bonus of a 25-minute documentary about making the production. Chamberlain, calling it "one of the great love stories ever," is interviewed on the same beach where he and Ward got together in the sand. On screen, that is. Ward actually got close with co-star Bryan Brown, to whom she is married. Their joint interview adds some real-life romance. The stars' recollections of story villain Barbara Stanwyck only make you wish to hear from the late screen queen. And one more wish would be screen-test footage. We hear that among those considered for Ward's role were Jane Seymour (too strong), Michelle Pfeiffer, Kim Basinger and, God save us, Olivia Newton-John.

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