It was only a matter of time, really. With everything being remade these days, you knew television mini-series would eventually be targeted. So which one does the History Channel have in its sights? Roots, of course – the 1977, 12-hour granddaddy of all mini-series that was such a phenomenon, more than half of all American households tuned in to see the finale. Think about that for a second. More than half of American households watched "Roots."
In today’s fragmented market, it’s difficult to even comprehend that figure. Given that, while it isn’t a surprise that the History Channel would want to see some of that success come to its network with its proposed eight-hour remake – calling it a “cultural icon” and rightly so – you wonder what other mini-series of yore might also be up for a redo.
Gulliver’s Travels (1996)
A timeless tale from the quill of Jonathan Swift entirely ripe for a remake. This last incarnation saw Ted Danson in the lead in a two-part mini-series. Hard to argue that this classic wouldn’t once again succeed.
The Thorn Birds (1983)
The steamy tale of a banished Catholic priest (played by Richard Chamberlain) and his relationship with a young woman caused quite a stir in the early '80s, particularly with the controversial sex scene and for its broadcast during Catholic Holy Week. Either way, this smash success looks to be perfect remake fodder.
Yes, I know – NBC just redid this as a regular series. I’m in denial, okay? The original was so, so good. The remake? Actually, I liked that, too. Maybe SyFy will try its hand one day. A guy can dream, can’t he?
The Winds of War (1983)
The Herman Wouk-penned novel tells the story of an American naval family after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. So successful it spawned a 1989 sequel, War and Remembrance. Still, WWII is fading as a subject of interest as generations age. Perhaps one best left alone.
Chamberlain’s second appearance on this list speaks to why so many housewives (and this writer’s Mom) got funny smiles on their faces every time he appeared on screen. Here, he played a 1600s Englishman who assimilates into Japan culture following a shipwreck. Would work in any era.
Singer June Reimer Springer has died at the age of 85. The star passed away in Chico, California on 27 September (13). No further details of her death have been released.
Starting her professional career aged 18, the singer auditioned for famed composer Cole Porter and landed a role in the original run of Kiss Me, Kate.
After appearing in a string of Broadway productions, she began using the stage name Monica Lane in the 1950s and toured as part of a singing duo with Cass Franklin.
She went on to marry famed publicist John Springer, whose clients included Elizabeth Taylor and her on/off husband Richard Burton, and had three children, Gary, Alicia and Cynthia.
Actor Jay Robinson, who twice portrayed Roman Emperor Caligula on the big screen, has died, aged 83. Robinson made his film debut as Caligula in the 1953 biblical epic The Robe, opposite Richard Burton, Jean Simmons and Victor Mature, and reprised the character the following year in Demetrius and the Gladiators.
He began his acting career on Broadway and once played Le Beau opposite Katharine Hepburn in a 1950 production of Shakespeare's As You Like It.
His career took a nosedive in the late 1950s after he was arrested at his home in Bel-Air and charged with possessing and selling heroin. He was found guilty and sentenced to a year in jail.
Robinson once told the Los Angeles Times that his arrest ruined his acting dreams, confessing, "I lost everything in Hollywood."
He spent almost a decade rebuilding his career, and was re-arrested on a bench warrant for failing to appear in court in 1966.
But he bounced back with TV spots on shows like Bewitched, Mannix and The Waltons, and became a regular on U.S. daytime soap Days of Our Lives.
British supermodel Cara Delevingne was among the front runners for the title role in Tim Burton's big screen interpretation of Alice In Wonderland. The beauty was still at school when she heard the moviemaker was putting together a new adaptation of the Lewis Carroll classic with Johnny Depp, but that didn't stop her sending in an audition tape.
She later found herself in the running for the part of Alice, and was even invited to meet Burton at his London home, but eventually lost out to Australian star Mia Wasikowska.
Delevingne tells W magazine, "My interpretation of Alice was a little crazy. I overplayed it - the way a young girl would overplay all her emotions. I sent my tape off, and then I was at a wedding and this woman came over to me. She said, 'You don't know me, but I know exactly who you are.' (It was Lili Zanuck, wife of the film's producer Richard Zanuck). She told me that they all loved my tape! And I went to Tim Burton's house and met with him. I didn't get the part, but that experience lit a fire in me."
Richard Burton's daughter refused to watch Dominic West's recent portrayal of her famously fiery father, insisting she would rather the drama had not been made. The Wire star plays the Welsh acting great alongside Helena Bonham Carter as his two-time wife Dame Elizabeth Taylor in BBC biopic Burton and Taylor, which aired to acclaim in the U.K. earlier this month (Jul13).
However, Scandal star Kate Burton has now insisted she has no plans to ever watch the TV movie.
She tells Britain's Daily Mail, "Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West are such great actors so I'm curious, but I don't think I'll see it.
"I'm a character in it - there's a person playing me! I'd much rather they (the BBC) didn't (make it), but what are you going to do? They were larger than life, those two people. It's a public story."
Burton also reveals she wasn't impressed with Lindsay Lohan's much-maligned portrayal of Taylor in Lifetime's TV movie Liz & Dick.
She adds, "The one that was on recently was so ridiculous. I never took it seriously. Please!... Lifetime can go ahead and make the movie without our permission. They could do whatever the heck they want."
Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West have won a round of five-star reviews for their performances in Burton And Taylor. The Harry Potter star plays late acting legend Dame Elizabeth Taylor in the British TV drama opposite West as her on/off husband Richard Burton, and the small screen movie impressed the U.K.'s critics after its premiere on Monday night (22Jul13).
The feature, which focuses on the stars in 1983 as they appeared on stage together in Noel Coward's Private Lives, was given full marks of five stars by The Times' critic Alex Hardy, who branded the drama "perfect" and added of Carter's performance as Taylor, "(She) conducted the world around her in a sing-song voice that moved octaves within one phrase, the fragile sliding into the manipulative".
Chris Hardy of The Daily Telegraph was full of praise for Carter, insisting she "went for broke" with her portrayal of Taylor and "got away with it" while he conceded West "seemed to be having some trouble" with Burton's Welsh accent.
The Guardian's Sam Wollaston writes, "Bonham Carter and West are excellent. There's a crackle between them... They become two people who clearly are and always will be in love, but can never be together, for reasons of health and safety. It is another very good double act", and Geoffrey McNab of The Independent concludes the drama is "affecting and well observed".
A U.S. TV movie about the couple, Liz & Dick starring Lindsay Lohan as the late actress, was mauled by critics following its broadcast in 2012, with one writer comparing the movie to a "high school play".
Actor Dominic West was left in awe of Richard Burton and Dame Elizabeth Taylor after gaining insight into their wild lives from a magazine prop on the set of a new drama. The Wire star plays Burton opposite Helena Bonham Carter as Taylor in upcoming TV movie, Burton and Taylor.
The pair threw themselves into playing the famously fiery couple, and West was blown away with how exciting their daily lives were after flicking through an article by Burton on the set of the biopic.
He tells Britain's The Sun, "On set there was a 1971 edition of Vogue, just as set-dressing, and inside there was an article by Richard Burton - it was called One Day In My Life.
"He and Liz were in Puerto Vallarta, in Mexico, and the circus had come to town. They went to the circus and the ringmaster spotted Liz and called her out.
"He attached her to this big board and spun her round and started throwing knives at her. Burton went crazy. He was trying to stop them. But she said: 'Oh, Richard, leave him. You're making him nervous.' Then they tried to get Burton to do it and he said: 'No f**king way!'
"The article ended with them both back home, getting into bed and Liz turning out the light and going: 'Well, another interesting day.' They had this incredible double act and were brilliant together as actors as well. That's what was so magnetic about them."
Director Tim Burton was so sick of his partner Helena Bonham Carter staying in character as Dame Elizabeth Taylor at home, he adopted the voice of Richard Burton as revenge. The Harry Potter star plays the Hollywood legend in a new British TV movie, Burton and Taylor, featuring Dominic West as her famously fiery husband.
Bonham Carter became so engrossed with her portrayal of the Cleopatra star, she struggled to let go after leaving the set - much to the chagrin of her own Burton at home.
She says, "(Taylor) stuck, she's very contagious, she's like a disease. (So) I'd be sounding like this drawl all the time and squeaky. But then Tim Burton, the other Burton that I live with, he worked out his revenge was to become Richard Burton himself.
"So there were two Richard Burtons, it was very confusing. And then I'd get this strange Richard Burton at home, who didn't say very much. He'd say a word every minute - it was very funny."
Burton and Taylor will air in the U.K. on Monday (22Jul13) and in the U.S. in the autumn.
British actor Dominic West took up drinking and smoking to excess in a bid to perfect Richard Burton's distinct vocal tones for a new drama. The Wire star plays the late actor opposite Helena Bonham Carter as Dame Elizabeth Taylor in an upcoming British TV movie called Burton and Taylor, and he went to extreme lengths to imitate the notoriously hard-living thespian.
He tells Britain's Radio Times, "Burton has the most beautiful mellifluous voice you've ever heard, which put the fear of God into me... When I drank and smoked all night, it worked pretty well but I didn't have the stamina to keep it up."
Carter recently revealed she consulted an astrologer for advice on playing Burton's on/off wife, but West admits he didn't follow her lead, adding, "Helena gave me the number but somehow I never got around to it."
However, West did prepare for the role by taking a trip to visit Burton's hometown in Wales, telling Britain's Guardian, "I went to his birthplace. The thing about Burton is, he's one of the most romantic actors ever, because his story is so romantic. You really get that when you go to where he grew up, in Pontrhydyfen, which is a beautiful place. It's very like Switzerland, where he spent much of his life."
Kooky actress Helena Bonham Carter consulted an astrologer before playing late Hollywood icon Dame Elizabeth Taylor. The Harry Potter star steps into the Oscar winner's shoes in new British TV movie Burton & Taylor, opposite The Wire's Dominic West as the star's on/off husband Richard Burton.
Carter admits she turned to a stargazing pal for some spiritual tips on how to portray Taylor.
Carter tells British newspaper The Guardian, "I went to an astrologer... I've got a really good friend called Darby Costello. If I can't make a decision, I go to Darby and... she won't tell me what to do, but she can distil characters.
"She knew Elizabeth. She'd not actually met her, but she'd distilled her. She said that Elizabeth was a big Pisces, and was often attracted to people who were broken - she needed to heal them. This was her take on Burton: when she got down, she always had the capacity to get up, whereas he was laden with guilt, and obsessed with death... I said to Darby, 'Can you just see if we would have got on?' And the first thing she said about me and her was that she would have felt very safe with me."
Carter also took samples of both Taylor and Burton's handwriting to an aunt who specialises in graphology, adding, "My aunt said he was more of an academic than an actor. He should have been an academic."