- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Innocence’ found

Court TV explores the riveting case of a man falsely imprisoned for two rapes and the measures taken to free him.

“A Life Stolen: Stories of the Innocence Project,” airing at 10 tonight, revisits Bruce Godschalk, a young man sent to prison for two rapes that he swears he didn’t commit. Mr. Godschalk spent 15 years in jail before the Innocence Project — a nonprofit legal clinic that handles DNA testing in such instances — exonerated him.

Tyler’s ‘Grownups’

A new telepicture based on Anne Tyler’s book “Back When We Were Grownups” poses the question that screenwriter Bridget Terry says many women one day ask themselves: “Gee, what if I had married that other guy?”

CBS attempts to provide the answer with a made-for-TV adaptation of Miss Tyler’s 2001 novel airing Sunday at 9 p.m., Associated Press reports.

The Hallmark Hall of Fame production stars Blythe Danner as the widowed Rebecca Davitch, a party planner who contemplates whether her life would be different had she married someone else. Enter Will Allenby (Peter Fonda), her socially inept old beau, who’s now a divorced college professor.

Also thrown into the mix is Oscar-winning actor Jack Palance (now 85) as Poppy, the crotchety uncle of Rebecca’s late husband, whose total focus is on his upcoming 100th birthday party.

Meanwhile, Faye Dunaway, Peter Riegert and Thomas Curtis also pop up in the film as various family members.

“Poppy has some very important wisdom to get across, and I thought Jack could deliver that without being overly sentimental,” said “Grownups” director Ron Underwood, who also directed Mr. Palance to an Oscar win for best supporting actor in the 1991 film “City Slickers.”

However, the story, set in Baltimore (like several of Miss Tyler’s other novels, including “The Accidental Tourist”), really revolves around the Davitch home, which doubles as Rebecca’s office.

Rebecca is played in flashback and memory sequences by Miss Danner’s real-lfe niece, Hillary Danner.

“This woman, she’s really going through a midlife crisis, but it doesn’t have the usual beats of that sort of story,” Mr. Underwood says.

Miss Danner, the star of an earlier Hallmark Hall of Fame production based on another Tyler novel, “Saint Maybe” (1998), finds “the gentle eccentricity” of the author’s work very appealing.

“Even in families that seem to run the smoothest, there are always the disappointments,” Miss Danner says of the story and the character she portrays.

“Nobody has it perfect all the time. I think so many women will identify with her … and men as well.”

ABC OKs two

The good news just keeps coming from once struggling ABC.

The network just approved full season orders for two rookie sitcoms, “Rodney” and “Complete Savages,” Reuters News Agency reports.

The network has ordered nine additional episodes for each show, bringing their totals to a full-season complement of 22 segments each. ABC’s attention-grabbing freshmen shows, “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost,” had already earned full-season pickups.

With the latest move, ABC joins CBS in picking up additional episodes of all of its freshman comedy series.

“Rodney” has done respectable, if not impressive, business behind the Tuesday 9 p.m. anchor “According to Jim.”

“Complete Savages,” produced by Mel Gibson, began slowly behind “8 Simple Rules,” but it has increased its ratings share in recent weeks.

War ‘Gold’

It took 12 years, but a crew of dedicated explorers finally found Civil War-era treasure buried deep within the Atlantic Ocean.

WETA-TV viewers can learn all about the discovery with National Geographic’s “Civil War Gold,” airing at 8 tonight on the local PBS affiliate. The program follows the Odyssey Marine Exploration team toward its remarkable finding. The treasure — a load of gold and silver coins from the Republic, a side-wheel steamer that sank about 100 miles off the Georgia coast in 1865 — was valued at $400,000 at the time of the disaster. But its current worth is estimated at between $75 million and $150 million.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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