The gap between theatrical movies and television continues to narrow.
For example, TV decision-makers are especially excited about the creative potential of this year's Academy Award-nominated movies. If you think they're great as full-length features, wait until you see them as weekly series, their best possibilities having been tapped by the people who tenderly and tastefully craft your favorite TV programs.
Proposals for such series are making the rounds of Hollywood and, as luck would have it, some of the most daring have been leaked to The Times.
THE MOVIE: "Forrest Gump." A guileless, simple soul from Alabama overcomes his disabilities to become a college football star, Vietnam hero, millionaire shrimper and national folk icon of great dignity and humanity, all the while continuing to adore his adventurous childhood sweetheart.
The Drama Proposal: "NYPD Boobs." Tiring of the slow, Southern life, a restless Forrest jogs to New York, where he becomes a legendary police detective whose partner--either an effete, arrogant, Frasier-style genius or a gruff, rule-bending Andy Sipowicz-type character--is his exact opposite. Their constant bickering hides a mutual admiration. In other words, these two just can't seem to get along--until The Chips Are Down. Meanwhile, the city's most violent gangs learn that they are no match for Detective Gump's simple ways.
And who should turn up as his NYPD boss, as irascible as ever? Forrest's old commanding officer and business associate, Lt. Dan.
The Sitcom Proposal: "Beverly Gumpbillies." After remarrying in Alabama, Forrest trucks his brood to posh Beverly Hills, where the Gumps shock and ultimately get the best of their snobby neighbors, proving that simple ways eventually win out.
The Sitcom Proposal II: "Mr. Pickle." Again, it's Forrest in New York, this time opening a kosher deli in the city's garment district. The high jinks begin when he serves a customer a salami on rye . . . with the bread inside . Run, Forrest, run.
The Sitcom Proposal III: "Gumpfeld." Forrest and Lt. Dan sit on their shrimp boat and have serious discussions about nothing.
The Fox Sitcom Proposal: "4stGumpdogg." Fox is sold on the concept of Forrest as an African American rap artist with an attitude.
The Late-Night Talk-Show Proposal: "Wee Hours: My Name Is Forrest Gump." CBS is looking at this as a fall replacement for Tom Snyder. Following the monologue, celebrity and other VIP guests arrive at the bus stop, sitting on the bench beside Forrest and his sidekick, Lt. Dan. No band, although a kazoo is under consideration.
THE MOVIE: "Four Weddings and a Funeral." A romantic comedy about a boyishly charming Britisher who is continually tardy to weddings, where he keeps bumping into the same American woman.
The Cable Movie Proposal: "Four Beheadings and a Funeral." Concept still in development.
The Fox Kinky Movie proposals: "Four Wenches and a Funeral" and "For Your Wedding Night, a Funnel." Concepts still in development.
The Sitcom Proposal: "For Weddings, for Funerals." The lovably bumbling hero of the movie has married his American sweetheart and moved to the United States, where he takes two jobs to make ends meet. The result is hilarious. His night job as a wedding consultant keeps him up so late that he regularly oversleeps, making him tardy for his day job as as a funeral director. The high jinks begin when, still only half awake, he has to prepare a transvestite for burial. Does he put the guy into a suit or a dress? And what does he do about mascara? The high jinks continue when he discovers the stiff in the coffin May Be Alive!!! And whoa, the guy in the box is demanding another shade of lipstick. With the laughs assured, the only question is whether Brian (Kato) Kaelin can be signed for the lead.
The Reality Series Proposal: "America's Funniest Weddings." There's fun galore when the church roof caves in.
THE MOVIE: "Pulp Fiction." Two hired killers go about their business in a non-linear universe of bizarre, overlapping realities and black humor, one of the men getting into trouble after going dancing with his boss's woman.
The Sitcom Proposal: "I Got Rhythm, I Got Bullets." Keeping late hours as a hit man causes a likable young fellow to continually oversleep for his day job as a dance instructor. The high jinks begin when this sleepyhead stumbles while teaching the tango and a stick of dynamite falls out of his pocket.
THE MOVIE: "Quiz Show." An account of the TV quiz show riggings of the late 1950s that focuses on a duel of wills between two adversaries, a federal investigator and the contestant who was the most admired, most famous of the conspirators.
The Cable Game Show Proposal: "Quiz Show: Wheel of Fornication." One set of contestants in isolation tries to guess what kind of kinky sex another set of contestants is having inside another isolation booth.
THE MOVIE: "The Shawshank Redemption." Two men become close friends and somehow deepen the quality of their lives while serving sentences for murder inside a prison run by a corrupt, sadistic warden.
The Drama Proposal: "Shawshank ER." With action so fast and frenetic, the prison infirmary is the place to be.
The Fox Drama Proposal: "Shawshank Place." The prison is closed and turned into an apartment complex for swinging twentysomethings.
The Sitcom Proposal: "Red & Andy." Yes, the movie's protagonists are back behind bars, wilder than ever and a real handful for the new warden, a Latino Asian American whose gruff demeanor hides a heart of gold. The high jinks begin when Red and Andy pull down the warden's pants.
The Fox Sitcom Proposal: "Red, Amos & Andy." Concept still in development.