ABC's 'Raisin' Finally Sees the Sun

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The world of television will be in for a rare sighting of one of its most endangered species later this season: a pair of somewhat prestigious made-for-TV movies on a broadcast network not called CBS.

ABC, which develops telefilms only sporadically these days, has set airdates for two high-profile projects in the 2007-08 season. "For One More Day," the latest film from the "Oprah Winfrey Presents" banner, will debut Sunday, Dec. 9. The network has also scheduled its long-gestating adaptation of "A Raisin in the Sun" for Feb. 25, the day after ABC's Oscar telecast.

The scheduling ends a long development process for the adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's play about a family on Chicago's South Side. ABC ordered the project in May 2006, signing the principal cast from the play's Tony-winning 2004 revival to star in the movie. Filming took place late last year, but until now ABC hadn't said anything about scheduling the film, which stars Audra McDonald ("Private Practice"), Sean "Diddy" Combs, Sanaa Lathan ("Nip/Tuck") and Phylicia Rashad ("The Cosby Show").

Given that it's scheduled for the day after the Oscars, which will provide a big promotional platform, ABC appears to have confidence in the movie.

"We are honored to have brought a new movie version of 'A Raisin in the Sun' ... to a new generation of viewers," executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron say in a statement. "We are humbled by our formidable cast and are very grateful to [ABC chief] Steve McPherson for giving us the coveted slot on the night after the Oscars."

"For One More Day" is an adaptation of Mitch Albom's novel; Albom also wrote the screenplay. It centers on a has-been baseball player (Michael Imperioli, "The Sopranos") who's about to commit suicide, but is granted one more day with his late mother (Ellen Burstyn), who shows him a way to redeem himself.

Aside from CBS' "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentations and the occasional Winfrey-backed project at ABC, broadcast networks have largely abandoned highbrow (or even middle-brow) original movies in recent years. CBS has found some success with its Jesse Stone series, but for the most part made-for-TV films are now the province of cable.

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