ABC, the network that so doggedly plumbed the depths of human degradation with Laverne & Shirley, so progressively expanded the concept of universal human rights with Kids Are People Too, and so boldly risked antagonizing intergalactic super-beings with Mork & Mindy, is tearing through yet another small-screen envelope.
This Sunday, ABC will air its remake of
Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 movie Rear Window, with dramatically immobile
actress Daryl Hannah in the Grace Kelly role. In an almost equally
compelling bit of provocative casting, the made-for-TV flick will also
feature real-life quadriplegic Christopher Reeve, who is also the show's
executive producer, in the part originated by Jimmy Stewart, thus
confirming the Hollywood maxim that when life deals you lemons, squeeze them
hard for boffo ratings - a lesson the Village of the Damned star has
learned with Stephen Hawking-like brilliance.
While Reeve's crippling 1995 accident seemed at the time like the culmination of a series of bad career moves (including roles in Monsignor, The Aviator, and The Remains of the Day), it was in fact a new beginning. A Reeve love fest broke out across Hollywood, Robin Williams threw in his higher Q rating by fortuitously announcing he had long been Reeve's best friend, and a new career in niche performances opened up. ABC, which has mounted an extensive campaign of hype for the project, could easily parlay this casting move into a new trend: If Rear Window pulls even decent ratings, one bankable prospect might be to have the once and future Superman dig into the rest of the Hitchcock oeuvre.
To give Reeve a running start - and in partial fulfillment of court-ordered community service - Suck kindly submits a series of made-for-TV remakes that should keep the handicapable son of Jor-El well ahead of any competition for at least the next few years. Toss in Reeve's Oscar-winning, scene-stealing pal Robin Williams, and you're talking Emmy gold.