Made for Mayhem (and Heroics)

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Homicidal trucks, a green-haired basketball star, a comedic look at the history of breast implants and a mob widow who must choose between a $15 million inheritance and a relationship with a man. These are some of the more outrageous characters or scenarios that will make up the new made-for-TV movie season.

But there will also be plenty of TV movies with more conventional plot lines. Real-life heroes and heroines will anchor films like NBC's "The Carolyn McCarthy Story" and the Barbra Streisand-produced Showtime project, "Two Women."

Old film and literary favorites will be reinterpreted with NBC's "Brave New World," ABC's "Oliver Twist," USA's "Ms. Scrooge" and ABC's "Rear Window," featuring Christopher Reeve.

Historical drama (TNT's "Buffalo Soldiers"), gruesome murders (the NBC miniseries "House of Frankenstein") and the return of Angela Lansbury's beloved TV character Jessica Fletcher (CBS' "Murder, She Wrote: South by Southwest") also will contribute to the new TV movie campaign.

Here's a rundown on some of the more interesting projects (many of which have not been given air dates at press time):

ACTION-ADVENTURE

"Futuresport": In the future, a dangerous game has replaced conventional sports. Wesley Snipes stars as the master of a contest in which opposing teams square off in a deadly confrontation where the fate of nations can hang in the balance. ABC.

"Medusa's Child": A doomsday miniseries about five people traveling aboard a cargo plane that carries a fully armed nuclear bomb set to go off within hours. The device could wipe out the Capitol and every computer on the continent. Martin Sheen and Lori Loughlin star. Nov. 16. ABC.

"Peter Benchley's Creature": A four-hour miniseries from the author of "Jaws." A man, his ex-wife and their son find themselves battling a new breed of amphibious predator. Based on Benchley's novel, "White Shark." ABC.

"Trucks": A gang of psychotic semi-trailer trucks goes on the rampage in this film based on a short story by horror writer Stephen King. Oct. 29. USA.

BIOGRAPHY

"Bad As I Wanna Be: The Dennis Rodman Story": Based on the outrageous basketball star's autobiography. ABC.

"The Carolyn McCarthy Story": The true story of a Long Island woman whose husband was killed and her son seriously injured by a crazed gunman who opened fire on a commuter train in 1993. After helping her son make a remarkable recovery, she was eventually elected to the House of Representatives by adopting a platform that included a ban on assault weapons. NBC.

"Don King: Only in America": A biographical drama based on the book "Only in America: The Life and Crimes of Don King." The film chronicles controversial boxing promoter Don King's rise to power. Nov. HBO.

"Get to the Heart: The Barbara Mandrell Story": The story of country singer Barbara Mandrell's rise to stardom and the challenges she faced after a near-fatal car accident. Maureen McCormick stars. Sept. 28. CBS.

"The Joe Torre Story": Based on the life of the New York Yankee manager, his family and the year leading up to the 1996 World Series championship. Starring Paul Sorvino. Oct. 17. Showtime.

"Monday After the Miracle": Billed as the true story of Helen Keller, now a grown woman, and her loving teacher, Annie Sullivan. Their relationship is threatened by a caring man who comes between them. Starring Sissy Spacek. CBS.

"The Sammy Gravano Story": A miniseries about the real-life Mafia hit man who turned on his mob brethren, sending the notorious John Gotti and several other dozen mobsters to prison for life. NBC.

"Mother Teresa: In the Name of God's Poor": Geraldine Chaplin plays the late, Nobel Peace Prize winner. Oct. 5. Family Channel.

COMEDY

"Breast Men": David Schwimmer and Chris Cooper star in this darkly comedic look at the history of the breast implant from its invention in the '60s to the present. December. HBO.

"The Hired Heart": In order to mollify her father-in-law, who wants her to stop grieving for her dead husband, a young widow hires a professional escort to masquerade as her lover. A romantic comedy starring Penelope Ann Miller. Oct. 13. Lifetime.

DRAMA

"The Advocate's Devil": A lawyer (Ken Olin) lands the case of his career defending a charismatic basketball star accused of rape. But the attorney eventually must grapple with his own moral conscience when he begins to suspect his client may be guilty. ABC.

"Brave New World": Aldous Huxley's classic 1932 science-fiction novel--with its warnings about genetic engineering, thought-control, mindless consumption and television itself--is brought to the small screen. NBC.

"Buffalo Soldiers": Danny Glover stars in the story of the African American U.S. Cavalry corps, whose reputation as exceptional soldiers and horsemen earned them respect and admiration. Dec. 7. TNT.

"A Christmas Memory": A holiday drama starring Patty Duke and Eric Lloyd. Based on Truman Capote's short story about a young boy's special friendship with his simple, older cousin as they prepare for their last Christmas together. CBS.

"Cloned": A woman discovers that her dead son has been cloned by an ambitious fertility specialist. She faces a difficult decision when the doctor offers to give her the son she has lost in exchange for her silence in regards to this controversial breakthrough. Starring Elizabeth Perkins. Sept. 28. NBC.

"Divided by Hate": When his wife is lured into joining a white supremacist paramilitary group, a man must battle the group to free his children. Starring Tom Skerritt. Oct. 22. USA.

"Gold Coast": A film version of Elmore Leonard's novel of the same name. A mob widow must decide, at the risk of losing her $15 million inheritance, whether to obey a clause in her husband's will that forbids her to have any relationship with men after his death. Sept. 28. Showtime.

"Hope": Goldie Hawn makes her directorial debut in this TV movie about a young girl who is forced to confront racism and hypocrisy during the 1960s. Starring Christine Lahti and Catherine O'Hara. Oct. 19. TNT.

"Into Thin Air: Death on Everest": Peter Horton stars in an adaptation of the book by Jon Krakauer about an ill-fated climbing party trying to scale the world's tallest peak. Nov. 9. ABC.

"Mama Flora's Family": This four-hour story by Alex Haley picks up where his epic "Roots" saga left off. It's a tale that spans half a century and explores the struggles of black matriarch Mama Flora and her family. CBS.

"Merlin": This four-hour saga finds the enduring magician battling evil kings, fire-breathing dragons and rival wizards. NBC.

"1,000 Men and a Baby": The true story of the men aboard a U.S. naval ship who break every rule in order to save an Amerasian infant left at the doorstep of a Korean church in 1953. Knowing the boy will not survive in Korea, the men sneak him aboard the ship going to back to America. CBS.

"Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding": Plans for a wedding involving a black girl from a prominent family and a white jazz musician cause a stir in the insular community of Martha's Vineyard; four hours. ABC.

"Running Home": Jack Lemmon plays a 70-year-old widower whose family is contemplating putting him in an old-age home. CBS.

"Two Women": The first of three Showtime films executive produced by Barbra Streisand and Cis Corman centering on the true stories of Christians who put their lives and the lives of their families on the line to help rescue Jews from the Holocaust. Directed by Peter Bogdanovich. Oct. 5. Showtime.

"What the Deaf Man Heard": A miniseries about a young Southern boy who learns a great deal about the people in his small town by pretending to be deaf and mute. Years later, as an adult still maintaining his ruse, he overhears a conversation involving a scam that he realizes he must expose. Stars Matthew Modine and James Earl Jones. CBS.

FAMILY

"Angels in the Endzone": A follow-up to the theatrical film "Angels in the Outfield" in which Christopher Lloyd returns as Al the Angel. Al visits a small town and alters the losing tradition of the high school football team and changes the lives of two young brothers devastated by the sudden loss of their father. ABC.

"Ms. Scrooge": A contemporary version of the Dickens' classic about Ms. Ebenita Scrooge. Featuring Cicely Tyson. Dec. 10. USA.

"Oliver Twist": Charles Dickens' classic novel about the London underworld is brought to film anew with Richard Dreyfuss in the starring role as Fagin, who oversees a band of ragamuffin young thieves. Nov. 9. ABC.

"Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella": An all-star cast is featured in this musical version of the famous fairy tale. Brandy plays Cinderella and Whitney Houston is her fairy godmother. Also on hand are Whoopi Goldberg, Bernadette Peters and Jason Alexander. Nov. 2. ABC.

"Shadow Zone: My Teacher Ate My Homework": A young boy's hatred of his teacher leads him to the shadow zone, a place where fantasy and reality meet. Oct. 18. Showtime.

SUSPENSE

"Bella Mafia": Vanessa Redgrave headlines a four-hour drama about four women, all members of a Mafia dynasty, who come together to comfort their adversaries after all the mobster men in the family are killed. Nov. 2. CBS

"Rear Window": Christopher Reeve stars in a modern update of the Cornell Woolrich short story of the same title, which also inspired the classic Alfred Hitchcock film "Rear Window." Reeve plays a paralyzed man who believes he has witnessed a murder from his apartment window. ABC.

"Two Came Back": The crew of a sailboat face a life-and-death struggle at sea when the overanxious captain sails the boat off course and into a massive storm. Starring Melissa Joan Hart. Sept. 28. ABC.

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