BetteBack: What’s Coming In 1974?

Lowell Sun
ABC specials for 74 range from bible to racing to golf
December 30, 1973

The ABC’s of programming in the months immediately ahead spell out one big message for ABC-TV SPECIAL… SPECIALS … SPECIALS.

Shakespeare. . . Mario Thomas . . Fitzgerald…Julie Andrews…Olivier… Hepburn … Hal Holbraok … The
Bible…Ben Gazzara … Bette Midler

The life of the man who embodied the spirit of America’s roaring ’20s, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and his writings, are intertwined for a unique two-hour dramatization: “F. Scott Fitzgerald and ‘The Last of the Belles’.” The special airs Jan. 7 and stars Richard Chamberlain as the famous writer and Blythe Danner as his wife Zelda.

Sir Laurence Olivier is Shylock in an updated version of Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” on March 16. Joan Plowright (Lady Olivier) and members of England’s famed National Theatre company costar.

The celebration of America’s bicentennial continues on ABC with “Texaco Presents The American Heritage: Trial By Fire.’

Feb. 3. focusing on Lincoln’s first two years in office and his clash with Gen. McClennon. Cliff Robertson narrates the series. John Anderson stars as Lincoln.

LAST SEASON the “ABC Theatre” presented two highly-praised dramatic plays: “If You Give a Dance You Gotta Pay the Band.” and -‘Pueblo” starring Hal Holbrook as Cmdr. Lloyd Bucher.

Music and variety are accorded a large portion of the specials mixture — with John Denver starring in two specials, the first to air on March 11. Appearing with the soft-spoken folk singer are David Carradine and Lily Tomlin.

The queen of camp – and a very special singer – Bette Midler will star in her first television special direct from her triumph at New York’s Palace Theater. Julie Andrews has two 90-minute presentations, plus a holiday special in the spring.

AT EASTER, ABC presents “Jacob and Joseph,” starring Colleen Dewhurst, Keith Michell. Hersche! Bernardt and Tony Lo Bianco which airs Palm Sunday, April 7. The drama vividly brings to life the everyday conflicts of the patriarchs. Also for Easter, ABC will repeat the popular “Portrait: A Man whose Name was John” starring Raymond Burr as the man who became Pope John XXIII. It airs April 14.

A new “Portrait” special based on an important time in the life of President Harry Truman also will air during the spring.

Mario Thomas, whose special last season, “Acts of Love and Other Comedies,” was very well-received, brings a new and very different program to ABC March 11. A unique treat for everyone between the ages of 5 and 95 … “Free to Be ”¢ You and Me” stars a large cast of favorites.

The Tony Awards are back on ABC this season, on April 21, and a new honor in the music world – the American Music Awards with Dick Clark as executive producer – is scheduled for Feb. 19.

Sesame Street’s “The Muppets” will star in their own half-hour special for St. Valentine’s Day Feb. 12. They will play host to guest star Mia Farrow.

T HE E M M Y – W I N N I N G “Jane Goodall and the -World of Animal Behavior” will be represented this season by a special on the African spotted hyena.

“The Movies,” two-part four hour special movie encompassing the most f a m o u s scenes from more than 100 memorable motion pictures spanning the entire history of the cinema, also is planned.

Katherine Hepburn repeats her triumphant television performance in “The Glass Menagerie” in an afternoon telecast Jan. 20.

“QB VII,” an unprecedented six-hour film version of Leon Urs’ bestseller is scheduled for a spring showing, with Ben Gazzara, Anthony Hopkins, Leslie Caron, Lee Remick and Juliet Mills headlining the cast.

ALSO ON THE made-for-TV movie schedule is a contemp o r a r y version of “Diabolique,” classic French horror film, with Joan Hackett, Tuesday Weld and Sam Waterston.

Movie fans also will eagerly await the television premiere of “The Sorrow and the Pity” which was on almost every “10 best” list in 1972.

“ABC News Closeups” is the penetrating investigative series of special reports.

IN JANUARY, that program airs “A Time to Die” produced by Marlene Sanders and movingly pointing up the terminally ill and the decisions about death. On Feb. 20, “Women in Prison” deals with the scandalous conditions which are being sustained in American prisons for women, and noting that the crime rate among women in the U.S rose 200 per cent” in the past 10 years.

The prestigious “National Geographic” series of specials continues Jan. 10 with “Journey to the Outer Limits” pitting a diverse team of intrepid teenagers against the 18,715-foot Santa Rosa Peak in the Peruvian Andes. On March 15. it’s a program on “The Big Cats.”

Following this, that series visits “The Desert Bushmen of the Kalahari.”

The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau” on Feb. 28 travels “Beneath the Bottom of the World” to confront the denizens of the strange world under the Antarctic ice.

ABC-TV newswomen Melba Tolliver continues to host “Americans A11” “mini-documentaries” detailing the contributions of ethnic minorities to American society and culture presented on a varying schedule.

On Jan. 10, “Women in Sports” features Dinah Shore as host with guests Billie Jean King, Britain’s Princess Anne. Russian gymnast Olga Korbut and other notable women athletes.

Golf enthusiasts will see a live coverage of the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am on Jan. 5 and Jan. 11; Andy Williams San Diego, on Jan- 26 and Jan. 27; the Hawaiian Open on Feb. 2 and Feb. 3.

On Jan. 27 begins ABC Sports “The Superstars” 1974 edition with Bob Seagren, current world record holder in the pole vault, defending his “Superstar” 1973 championship against the nation’s top athletes competing in sports other than those in which they are expert.

“ABC’s Auto Championship” provides the racing action with the Daytona “500” on Feb. 17, the Phoenix “150” on March 17, the Atlanta “500” on March 24 and the Trenton “200” on April 7.

Afterschool Special,” designed for the education and entertainment o£ young people, boasts a fine lineup of productions in 1974.

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