Today’s News, Tomorrow’s Television : ‘China Beach’ going into the ‘80s; ‘Hill Street’s’ Belker signs ABC sitcom



ABC’s “China Beach” will move not only to a new time next season, it will travel to new decades. The Vietnam War series, airing Saturdays in the fall, has chronicled the lives of nurses and doctors in the 1960s since its debut two years ago. Next season the series will follow the lives of main characters through the 1970s and 1980s.

Bruce Weitz has joined the cast of “Anything But Love.” The ABC comedy series, starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Richard Lewis, was ordered as a mid-season replacement after initially being canceled. Weitz, who played Mick Belker on “Hill Street Blues,” will play a new staffer of Chicago Weekly magazine-a “shot-in-the-beer” kind of guy who writes no-nonsense columns and can’t quite come to terms with his woman boss, actress Ann Magnuson.

Soap actor James Reynolds has joined the cast of NBC’s newest daytime drama “Generations.” Starting Aug. 29, Reynolds will portray successful businessman Henry Marshall, a role originated by actor Taurean Blacque, another “Hill Street” alumnus, who is leaving the show for personal reasons.



Jaclyn Smith and Perry King have been cast to star in “Danielle Steel’s ‘Kaleidoscope,’ ” an NBC movie based on the romance novelist’s best seller. It will be telecast in October, coupled with the movie “Danielle Steel’s ‘Fine Things.’ ” NBC said the dramas will be presented back-to-back in individual-movie formats to create a miniseries event.

The Disney Channel will air the Royal Shakespeare Company’s epic production of “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby” beginning Oct. 21, with Kenneth Branagh hosting introductions to the four episodes of the 8-hour Charles Dickens adaptation. The Tony-winning production features 39 actors portraying a cast of 150 characters, with Roger Rees of Cheers” as Nickleby.



“The Queen of Mean,” a drama about New York real estate magnate Leona Helmsley starring Suzanne Pleshette and Lloyd Bridges, will premiere the “CBS Sunday Night Movie” on Sept. 23.

Following a recent CBS deal with Universal, last year’s popular film “Field of Dreams” will pass cable and go straight to network TV. The mythic baseball movie, starring Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster, will be broadcast on Oct. 2, two days before CBS Sports coverage of the National League Championship series.

Olympia Dukakis and Amy Madigan have been set to star in “Lucky Day,” a two-hour movie for ABC to air during the 1990-91 season. In the drama, a mentally retarded young woman wins the state lottery, bringing to head a simmering conflict between Madigan, her volatile younger sister and Dukakis, their strong-willed mother.

Charlton Heston plays the grandfather of two young boys, Leo Wheatley and Charles Miller, whose parents have been killed in “The Little Kidnappers,” a Disney Channel movie scheduled to air on Aug. 17. The two boys, ignored by their crusty grandfather, find an abandoned baby and decide to care for it.


The childhood classic “Bambi,” considered one of the finest animated movies in film history, will make its television debut in December on the Disney Channel. The 1942 masterpiece, said to be Walt Disney’s favorite, required five years to make. “Bambi” is the eighth animated Disney classic to appear on the Disney Channel.


Mike Wallace will recall 40 years of reporting and interviewing on “Mike Wallace, Then and Now, a CBS News Special.” The Sept. 26 special will cover Wallace’s news career, beginning in 1950 and ending with his present assignment on R60 Minutes.”