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October 6, 2015

CBS has no love for big-star TV movies

by Allison Waldman, posted May 22nd 2008 4:23PM
WeedsYou think winning two Oscars would earn you some respect, right? What about a Tony and Emmy winner? No, apparently not -- in either case. Two high-profile TV movies which feature Jessica Lange and Mary-Louise Parker are being broadcast -- unceremoniously -- over the next three Saturday nights on CBS. Yes, they are essentially being dumped. The Nielsen numbers for programs on Saturday nights is next to nothing. By running Sybil and Vinegar Hill, these stars' respective films on that night of the week, CBS is showing no faith in them, let alone TV movies in general. I guess Hallmark Hall of Fame movies are the exception to the rule.

The Jessica Lange project is a remake of the Sally Field-Joanne Woodward TV classic Sybil. The double-Oscar winner (for Blue Sky and Tootsie) made her version, directed by Joseph Sargent (Warm Springs, Miss Evers' Boys), with Tammy Blanchard (an Emmy winner for Life with Judy Garland) in the Sally Field role, back in 2007. It has actually been broadcast overseas. CBS has had it on the shelf for over a year. It's now scheduled for May 24 and June 7; although the running time for the pic is only 90 minutes, so you can assume there will be lots of commercials. The original Sybil (1976) was a mini-series, running 198 minutes. It won four Emmys, including one for writing, music, special and actress (Sally).

The Mary-Louise Parker movie, Vinegar Hill, is even older. It was made in 2005, based on an Oprah Book Club selection, a novel by author A. Manette Ansay. Again, based on the fact that the film was given the Oprah seal of approval (not to mention promotion), and the success of Mary-Louise on Showtime's Weeds, you'd think CBS might actually want to give this film some prominence. No, it's scheduled for this Saturday, May 24, 8 o'clock. And like Sybil, this was already broadcast elsewhere; like Brisbane, Australia.

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Joseph Sargent is one of the most brilliant directors of our time. I can't wait to see his "Sybil."

May 27 2008 at 2:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can see why CBS dumped this flick--it was horrible. The characters were either stupid or psycho; most of their actions made no sense; and the plot was one over-the-top, unintentionally funny moment after another. And the book is (reputedly) even more grim and unbelieveable. The rap on Oprah's Book Club (back when she was selecting current books every month) was that she favored books about abuse no matter how lame they were. VINEGAR HILL certainly proves that point.

May 25 2008 at 4:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I miss seeing movies on TV. Made for TV or broadcast premieres - I don't care. Why would we want to want reruns of CSI or Law and Order???? I guess I'll have to keep relying on Netflix.

May 23 2008 at 8:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mike m


ok, you ruin your point in your post. they are old movies. be glad they are being shown at all.

Why has a movie that was produced in 2005 and aired in Australia been scheduled to air here in 2008? Probably because no one watches these made for tv movies, big stars or not, and because they have had better things to air, like reruns of csi and without a trace, that get more viewers watching. If it were that good, wouldn't it have aired in 2005 or 2006 depending on when it was completed. It has nothing to do with no love, and everything to do with how bad a film it is. Be glad it's being shown at all, I say.

More to the point, what other evening would you want them to be shown? Thursday? Friday maybe? Saturday is the best day to show them realistically, as it's the only open night in the schedule. It's the only chance those movies have of getting any ratings at all. Any other night, they would get killed by just about any rerun of anything, and every new episode of reality tv this summer sched is promised to be packed with.

Could CBS have said, "ok guys, we'll air them sunday nights, like we used to, and go against reruns of Desperate Housewives, etc."? Sure. Is it good business? I don't think so. Maybe if every network was showing crap made for tv movies with "big stars"(who aren't really that big anymore if you ask me) too, cbs could get away with it. In my mind, it's a smart move by CBS.

May 23 2008 at 1:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeff N.

At one time some of the best shows on TV were on Saturday night. Now it's a dumping ground for reruns and leftovers.
I wonder if either of these movies is any good? I guess CBS doesn't think so.

May 22 2008 at 4:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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