Playing For Time
Multi-award winning dramatization based on the memoirs of Fania Fenelon, a French Jew who became a member of a women's orchestra inside Auschwitz, playing music for their Nazi captors as well as for fellow inmates marching to their deaths. The controversial casting of Vanessa Redgrave, making her American TV acting debut and winning an Emmy Award as Outstanding Actress, and the occasion for playwright Arthur Miller, who also won an Emmy for his script, to participate in a TV movie, gave this film added distinction.
It was chosen Outstanding Drama Special for the 1980-81 TV season at the Emmy Award ceremonies, and another Emmy went to Jane Alexander as Outstanding Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Alma Rose, the orchestra's cold, officious leader. Shirley Knight also received a Supporting Actress nomination for her role as the malevolent camp matron, and art director Robert Gundlach got the last of the movie's six nominations. Initially, it was to have been directed by Tony Richardson, Redgrave's former husband, but he left over "artistic differences," and was replaced by Joseph Sargent, who in turn was replaced by Daniel Mann, the director of record. Fania Fenelon herself, vociferous against Redgrave's casting, died in 1983.