This first item may be one of the earliest mentions of WENN in print--it was contained as a squib in the following larger article:

Critics Still Skeptical of Cable's On-Air Offerings; Cable TV

by Linda Haugsted, Information Access Company

July 17, 1995--American Movie Classics' first original live-action series is WAMC - The Radio Show. Structured similarly to The Larry Sanders Show, the AMC series will incorporate on-air and off-air stories set in 1939-43. The four-part November series is written by The Mystery of Edwin Drood adapter Rupert Holmes.

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This was part of a larger article about productions/series filming in NYC.

Filming in New York

by David Sheward, (BPI Communications Back Stage)

August 11, 1995--American Movie Classics (AMC) expands beyond its usual fare of golden age cinema with a live-action series about the golden age of radio. Remember WENN is set in a radio station during 1939-1943, intertwining on-air and off-air plots. Tony-winner Rupert Holmes (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) authored the four scripts which comprise the initial, tryout run. Producers Frank Doelger and Howard Meltzer are hoping for a comittment from the cable channel for more segments. Shooting for the four episodes concludes Aug. 13. They're scheduled to air in November.

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Remember WENN Brings the Golden Age of Radio to Television

AMC's First Original Live-Action Drama/Comedy Series To Debut in January

AMC Press Release

1996--AMERICAN MOVIE CLASSICS brings the Golden Age of Radio to television with its first original live-action series, Remember WENN.

Set in Pittsburgh just prior to World War II, this new half-hour, ten-part series focuses on a valiant band of actors, actresses, technicians and producers at radio station WENN. Understaffed and overwhelmed, they bravely attempt to supply their listeners with a daily line-up of live programming. Their "on-air" comedy and drama spills out of the broadcast booth and into their "off-air" lives, as their crises and personal relationships ricochet as dramatically as the radio plays they enact. Guest stars--such as Patti LuPone, Irene Worth and AMC host Bob Dorian--join the cast of regulars in various upcoming episodes in this Entertainment Group/ TurtleBack Production's series. Regular cast members include a host of actors from the Broadway stage.

"With this, our first original drama-comedy series, we offer our viewers a poignant and loving re-creation of a bygone era," said Kate McEnroe, Executive Vice President and General Manager, AMC. "The entry into live-action programming is integral to the larger efforts of expanding the AMC experience--to provide a full range of classic era entertainment and information."

Each episode of Remember WENN incorporates both on-air and off-air story lines. The on-air stories will recreate a variety of Golden Age radio forms--soap opera, science fiction, drama, mystery, news and children's programming--while tying into off-air stories of life around the station. Reflecting on the golden age of radio, this premiere AMC series will invite viewers to turn down the lights, gather around the Zenith and remember when.

Most historians agree that modern radio began on November 2, 1920, in Pittsburgh when KDKA, the nation's first federally licensed station, broadcast the Harding-Cox election returns. However, radio's origins began earlier than that. The first known radio broadcast in the U.S., consisting of two selections of music, the reading of a program and a short talk, went out on Christmas Eve, 1906. Broadcast by Reginald Aubrey Fessenden from his experimental radio station in Brant Rock, MA, the program was heard by radio operators on ships within a radius of several hundred miles.

But the first public radio transmission took place on January 13, 1910, when radio pioneer and electron tube inventor Lee De Forest arranged a broadcast to the public in New York City. He succeeded in broadcasting the voice of Enrico Caruso, along with other stars of the Metropolitan Opera, to several receiving locations in the city where listeners with earphones marveled at wireless music from the air. Though only a few were equipped to listen, it was the first broadcast to reach the public and the beginning of a new era in which wireless radio communication became almost universal.

Remember WENN is written by Rupert Holmes, the multiple Tony Award-winning author and composer of the Broadway musical, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. A recipient of several Edgar and Drama Desk awards, Holmes is perhaps best-known to the public as the singer-songwriter of the multi-platinum recording "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)," and has also created the period music for Remember WENN.

Producing the series is Howard Meltzer and Frank Doelger, founders of The Entertainment Group/Turtleback Production. They have won multiple Emmy and CableACE awards for their television work, including their HBO series Life Stories: Families in Crisis.

REMEMBER WENN GUEST STARS

BOB DORIAN
Guest Star/Episode Number Two

Bob Dorian has been the prime-time host of AMERICAN MOVIE CLASSICS since the cable network launched October 1, 1984. In those 11 years, he has watched his audience climb to more than 57 million subscribers.

Mr. Dorian introduces AMC's evening showcase of classic motion pictures and provides a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood's heyday with facts and information about the great stars, directors and producers. Aided by a knowledgeable research team, he explains why Ginger Rogers' hair is brown rather than her traditional blonde in Lucky Partners (she dyed it for Kitty Foyle), or leads into Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt by talking about the director's state of mind during the filming (his mother was then dying in England).

"By the time I was 15, I had worked with Paul Lukas, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, and another man, who not only taught me about acting but turned out to become pretty famous himself," Dorian recalls. That friend was the director of a local television show who suddenly announced that he had been cast in the co-starring role of Rodgers and Hammerstein's new musical, The King and I--Yul Brynner.

Mr. Dorian has followed his friend into musical theater, starring as Harold Hill in The Music Man, King Arthur in Camelot, Nicky Arnstein in Funny Girl and (his all-time favorite role) Professor Henry Higgins in both My Fair Lady and its prototype, Pygmalion. "I try to do at least one live show a year so I can feel and connect with the audience, which is different from looking at a lens," he says.

In Remember WENN, Mr. Dorian stars as Mr. Medwick, the brave overly-trusting sponsor of the first call-in show in radio history.

PATTI LUPONE
Guest Star/Episode Number Four

Born in New York, Patti LuPone trained in the drama division of The Juilliard School. On the London stage, she created the role of Norma Desmond in the world premiere production of Sunset Boulevard, for which she received an Olivier nomination in 1993 for Best Actress in a Musical. She also originated the role of Fantine in the world premiere of Les Miserables and portrayed Moll/Sister in The Cradle Will Rock, where she received the 1995 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for both performances.

On the Broadway stage, Ms. LuPone portrayed Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes; Eva Peron in Evita, for which she received a 1980 Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for Best Actress in a Musical; Reporter in Accidental Death of an Anarchist; Nancy in Oliver!; Rita Lang in The Water Engine by David Marnet; Hooker in Working; Irina in Three Sisters; Lucy Lockitt in The Beggar's Opera; Kitty Dubal in The Time of Your Life; and Rosamund in The Robber Bridegroom, where she received a 1976 Tony and Drama Desk nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.

Her most notable television credit features her in the role of Libby Thatcher in ABC's Life Goes On. In addition, she has been showcased in the following films: Family Prayers, Driving Miss Daisy, Witness, Wise Guys, 1941, and Fighting Back.

In Remember WENN, Ms. LuPone stars as Miss Grace Cavendish, the famous film star. She swings by the WENN studios during her charity tour benefitting European refugees. She just happens to be Hilary's nemesis from Broadway and a former love interest of Victor. Her presence creates hilarity and havoc.

IRENE WORTH
Guest Star/Episode Number Three

Irene Worth made her Broadway debut in The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1943), after which she moved to London where she lived for 34 years. She soon became a member of the Old Vic Company appearing as Desdemona, Helena, Lady Macbeth and Portia.

In 1953, with director Tyrone Gutherie and Alec Guinness, she helped found the Canadian Shakespeare Festival at Stratford, Ontario. Performing the inaugural season under a tent, she played Queen Margaret in Richard III and Helena in All's Well That Ends Well. When the permanent theatre was built, she returned to play Rosalind in As You Like It (1959). In a later season, she performed in HEDDA GABLER, for which Walter Kerr of The New York Times wrote, "Miss Worth is just possibly the best actress in the world."

In New York, Ms. Worth appeared opposite John Gielgud in Edward Albee's Tiny Alice and later in London with David Warner for the Royal Shakespeare Company. At Yale, she was Io in Robert Lowell's Prometheus Bound. In London she played opposite Noel Coward in the trilogy of plays he had written for her and himself: Suite in Three Keys (Evening Standard Best Actress Award).

Ms. Worth has won three Tony Awards in her theatrical career: a Best Actress award in 1965, appearing opposite John Gielgud in Edward Albee's Tiny Alice; a Best Actress Award in 1975 for Sweet Bird of Youth and Best Supporting Actress Award for Neil Simon's 1991 Broadway production Lost in Yonkers. After winning the award for Lost in Yonkers, she appeared with Richard Dreyfuss and Mercedes Ruehl in the film version of that play.

In Remember WENN, Ms. Worth stars as Mrs. Florence Dunthorpe Mellon, the Pittsburgh matron of high society. She is the representative of Pittsburgh's Public Lending Library, sponsor of the low-rated Pittsburgh Library Theatre. She threatens to revoke sponsorship after hearing the action western Rance Shiloh. According to Celia, Mrs. Mellon is her mother. The only problem: Mrs. Mellon doesn't know.

REMEMBER WENN CAST
(IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE)

MACKIE BLOOM:
The Man of a Thousand Voices, who physically looks nothing like the swashbuckling heroes he often portrays. Late forties, fifties.

MR. FOLEY:
Sound Effects Person extraordinaire. The Harpo Marx of WENN, he lives to recreate sound, and is so absorbed with his quest that he never bothers to talk. He is not a mute...it just works out that way.

HILARY BOOTH:
The Queen of WENN. A "star" in Pittsburgh, she has acted on the Broadway stage and briefly in films. Age: in her forties, but could pass for ten years younger. Elegant, stylish, acid-tongued...and underneath, possibly a bit more vulnerable than she would like you to know. Married to actor Jeffrey Singer. Together, the two of them are the most famous Mr. & Mrs. in Radio, outside of New York.

JEFFREY SINGER:
Very handsome, takes his acting but not himself seriously. Late twenties, early thirties. Trained on the regional stage, but his looks have sometimes gotten in the way. Married to actress Hilary Booth.

BETTY ROBERTS:
A real person, paying her own way through life, hopeful romantic but no pushover, considerate but not a wimp, enthusiastic but not a cheerleader. Well-read, loves writing, is entranced with the medium of radio. In her very early twenties, attractive, American wholesome, but not sexless.

GERTIE:
Hard-nosed receptionist/phone operator for the station; unimpressed with show business, she serves as the "reality check" for all these melodramatic personalities.

VICTOR COMSTOCK:
Station manager. Suavely handsome with a dashing moustache, he is another Orson Welles, a true visionary. He produces and directs, and can even act credibly if needed. In his thirties; dress is casual elegant.

CELIA MELLON:
One has the feeling no event has ruffled her beautifully-flaxen hair. She's a much better actress than her good looks allow you to notice. The impressions is that her family is old money...but perhaps that money is counterfeit, and the greatest role she's portrayed is one of her own creation: herself.

ELDRIDGE:
Somewhere in his late sixties, he was part of radio when it was merely a new way to send morse code. He has vivid memories of America in the late 1890s and this brave new world of the late 1930s is often bewildering to him. Victor Comstock employs him as titular Editorial Supervisor at WENN, for sentimental reasons. Still, Mr. Eldridge has much he can tell us about life.

EUGENIA BREMER:
Spinster organist, who would pay WENN for the excitement of accompanying their programming. She can also really belt out a tune.

RUPERT HOLMES BIOGRAPHY

With Remember WENN, Rupert Holmes is once again creating the personalities and plots for a bygone world. For his previous such effort (the hit musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood), Holmes became the only individual in Broadway history to solely receive Tony Awards for Best Book, Best Music and Best Lyrics, while Drood itself won the Tony Award for Best Musical. The Mystery Writers of America have also presented Holmes with their highest honor, the coveted "Edgar" award, for his Broadway comedy-thriller Accomplice, which starred Jason Alexander and Michael McKean.

In addition to Remember WENN, Holmes is also scripting two original film musicals: Traps for Bette Midler and NBC, and Speak Easy for Reba McIntire and Paramount Pictures. He is also completing a book and score for a theatrical musical based on Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray and has begun work on his first novel for Random House.

Holmes is also creating the musical theme and original score for Remember WENN. His previous compositions have been recorded by many of the leading vocalists of our time, most frequently and notably Barbra Streisand. This includes his contributions to the motion picture A Star is Born and her platinum album Lazy Afternoon, which Holmes wrote, produced, arranged and conducted. He also wrote the music for the ABC/Nick-at-Nite summer television series, Hi, Honey, I'm Home. Holmes' most recent recording session was with Patti LuPone for her upcoming appearance in Remember WENN.

Despite all the above, Holmes is probably best known to the general public as the singer-songwriter for the iconic international hit "Escape," better known as "The Piña Colada Song."

= = = = = = = = = =
Radio - Then and Now
1934 VS. 1994
1934
Top SponsorsTop StarsTop 10 HitsTop Radio Networks
American ExpressAbbott & Costello"The Old Spinning Wheel"
Ray Noble
Radio Corporation of America (RCA)
American RadiatorFred Allen"Smoke Gets In Your Eyes"
Paul Whiteman
National Broadcasting Company
- NBC Red Network
- NBC Blue Network
AmourJack Benny"Let's Fall In Love"
Eddie Duchin
Columbia Broadcasting System
A&PMilton Berle"My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii"
Ted Fio Rito
Mutual Broadcasting System
AT&TEdgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy"The Carioca"
Enric Madiguera
BuickGeorge Burns & Gracie Allen"Wagon Wheels"
Paul Whiteman
CamelsBing Crosby"Little Dutch Mill"
Bing Crosby
ChevroletEddie Cantor"Cocktails For Two"
Duke Ellington
Cities SerivcePerry Como"I'll String Along With You"
Ted Fio Rito
Coca-ColaJimmy Durante"Moon Glow"
Benny Goodman
Colgate-PalmoliveThe Great Gildersleeve
Ford MotorsArthur Godfrey
General ElectricFibber McGee & Molly
General MotorsEdward R. Morrow
Ipana ToothpasteBasil Rathbone
Lever BrothersBabe Ruth
Lucky StrikeThe Andrews Sisters
Maxwell MotorsRed Skelton
Metropolitan Life
Proctor and Gamble
Ralston Purina
Quaker Oats
Wheaties
= = = = = = = = = =
Radio - Then and Now
1934 VS. 1994
1994
Top SponsorsTop StarsTop 10 HitsTop Radio Networks
Sears RoebuckRush Limbaugh
"The Rush Limbaugh Show"
"The Sign"
Ace of Base (Arista)
ABC Radio Networks
AT&T CoporationLarry King
"Larry King Live"
"I Swear"
All-4-One (Blitz)
American Urban Radio Networks
GM Coproration/
Dealers Association
Howard Stern
"The Howard Stern Show"
"I'll Make Love To You"
Boyz II Men (Motown)
AP Radio Networks
News Corporation Don Imus
"Imus in the Morning"
"The Power Of Love"
Celine Dion (550 Music)
CBS Radio Networks
Chrysler Corporation
Dealer Association
Casey Kasem
"Casey's Top 40"
"Hero"
Mariah Carey (Columbia)
Premiere Radio Networks
Tandy Corporation
(Radio Shack)
Charles Osgood
"The Osgood File"
"Stay"
Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories
Westwood One
KMart CorporationPaul Harvey
"News and Comment"
"Breathe Again"
Toni Braxton (LaFace)
United Press International
General Motors Corp.Rick Dees
"Weekly Top 40"
"All For Love"
Bryan Adams/Rod Stewart (A&M)
Public Broadcasting Radio
- National Public Radio
- Eastern Public Radio
- Public Radio International
U.S. GovernmentTom Joyner
"Movin' On Weekend
"All That She Wants"
Ace of Base (Arista)
Warner-Lambert"Don't Turn Around"
Ace of Base (Arista)
Sunsource Health Products
MCI Communications
Philip Morris Corporation
Montgomery Ward & Co.
Quaker Oats Co.
Ito-Yokado Co. Ltd.
(7-Eleven)
Pepsico, Inc.
U.S. West, Inc.
Grand Metropolitan
(Burger King)
American Stores Co.
(Lucky)
Schering-Plough Co.
CompUSA

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Going Back in Time, to a Time of Radio, with Patti LuPone

by Mary Campbell Associated Press

January 5, 1996--Singer-actress Patti LuPone is such a fan of radio, author-composer Rupert Holmes and American Movie Classics that she accepted a guest part in AMC's Remember WENN series without reading the script.

"TV doing radio?" she exclaims. "It's brilliant."

Remember WENN, which premieres Saturday, Jan. 13, is a 10-part series about a fictional Pittsburgh radio station set in 1939, the first series American Movie Classics has produced that doesn't fall into the documentary or news categories. The cable network principally airs what its name indicates.

"I remember in the morning on Long Island my mother used to listen to The Breakfast Club," LuPone says. "We listened to the radio all the time. I remember hearing Arthur Godfrey and Kate Smith. My first experience with theater of any kind was singing back at the radio, at a very, very young age. I'm 46 now."

As she gets her hair marceled and makeup and nails done to turn her into "1930s international stage and screen star Grace Cavendish," LuPone explains her part.

"Grace is going around the country to radio stations to broadcast for help for refugees in Europe," she says. "She makes a stop at WENN in Pittsburgh, where she knows a few people."

Among them is Mr. Eldridge (actor George Hall), the station's editorial supervisor, who invented the pneumatic trap door. She once worked for him as a gofer. Later, he was the stage-door man when Grace and Hilary Booth (played by Melinda Mullins), now the reigning star of WENN, were both acting in The Rivals on Broadway.

"Grace is a regular person. She is painted by Hilary to be poison," LuPone says.

As the cast acts the scenes of the fourth episode, the actors' voices are arch and fraught with dramatic tension, underscored by an off-stage organ.

Small rooms have been partitioned into sets in a warehouse in Queens for the shooting. There's the radio station's reception area, with old-time switchboard; the scriptwriters' room, with ancient upright typewriters; a room with the radio microphones and a table full of props for the sound-effects man (Tom Beckett).

Remember WENN was shot on film, which was manipulated to make it look like the Technicolor used in movies of the time.

LuPone is a big fan of those old films.

"I used to cut school and go to movies," she says. "Some of the things that were on when I was growing up I didn't see again until America Movie Classics started to show them again. I like to watch any old-fashioned, well-made American film. They're much more satisfying than new ones. I'll watch any Bette Davis or Busby Berkeley or Preston Sturges or Ernst Lubitsch movie. They were well-crafted and well-acted; that was the norm."

Rupert Holmes, singer-songwriter of ""Escape (the Pina Colada Song)," who also wrote the script and songs for Drood on Broadway, has written Remember WENN and its incidental music.

LuPone says she admires him as a person who collaborates instead of dictating, as opposed to her experience during her stint playing the mother of a Down syndrome son on ABC's Life Goes On, which ran from 1989 to 1993.

"I worked on a TV show for four years with a group of writers whose lines were sacred," she says. "Rupert lets actors eliminate or change a word. He's not afraid. Hollywood writers barely know characters, let alone trust actors to know anything."

The bulk of LuPone's experience has been on the stage.

Among her most notable roles, she played Eva Peron in Evita and Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes on Broadway and took on Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard in London.

And she has appeared in a play set in a 1930s radio station before: The Water Engine opened in 1978 at the Public Theater and moved to Broadway. It was about WCMJ of Chicago.

"I sang "Ten Cents a Dance" and "Limehouse Blues" and pushed the program's sponsor, Mallory Paints," she says of that production. "I sang "Painting the Clouds with Sunshine" - "Get out there and paint your life with sunshine and make sure the paint you use is Mallory."

"I love the period so much," she says. "We put on these clothes. They're better made, better fitted, more stylish, just feminine. I suppose that's all in your own opinion. I like it."

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Remember WENN Premiering Saturday Night on American Movie Classics

by Manuel Mendoza (Dallas Morning News)

January 12, 1996--A TV series about the golden age of radio on a network that shows old movies?

The premise sounds like a snooze, not to mention the potential for hokum and sappy nostalgia. But Remember WENN, the first series from American Movie Classics, is fresh and original.

The cast of Broadway veterans, largely unknown to the mass public, nicely balances backstage show-biz backbiting with an affectionate portrayal of actors performing dramas and commercials by the seat of their pants and for little pay.

"We give them dreams," Victor Comstock (John Bedford Lloyd), the manager of Pittsburgh's WENN, circa 1939, says about the radio audience. "We give them towers and landscapes, secrets and revelations. We give them a warm hearth in the dark or a cold shiver up their spine. And we do it all here, live, on the sparest of threadbare budgets, with a troupe of actors who are underpaid and under-rehearsed and overwhelmed, and have yet to learn that this simply cannot be done."

Lloyd's speech forms the subtext of Remember WENN: that this was a more exciting and perhaps more innocent time to be in show business. That doesn't mean all the radio actors are sweet or flawless. In fact, the idyllic/romantic world they create on the radio contrasts sharply with their offstage real lives.

Former Broadway actress Hilary Booth (Melinda Mullins) is embittered by her flagging career and her flirtatious husband, Jeffrey Singer (Hugh O'Gorman), a fellow actor who has a habit of hitting on young starlets without mentioning that he's already taken.

"Everything all right? Nothing amiss in our home?" Jeffrey asks Hilary, who replies: "Oh, no, you would never bring a Miss into our home, would you, Jeffrey dear?"

The spark of Remember WENN is Amanda Naughton, who plays the new intern Betty Roberts, a starry-eyed overachiever who saves the station in the first episode and gets hired as a writer. Her character immediately bonds with Mackie Bloom (Chris Murney), whose ability to do any voice at any time is the glue that holds WENN's broadcast day together.

A second sprightly youngster, Celia Mellon (Swoozie Kurtz/Drew Barrymore look-alike Dina Spybey), joins the station in the second episode, which revolves around an on-air argument between Hilary and Jeffrey and the invention of talk radio.

The mind behind Remember WENN is Rupert Holmes, whose two big hits have been the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood and the pop smash "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)."

The first two episodes premiere back-to-back Saturday, another two will debut Feb. 7 and 21 (with Broadway stars Irene Worth and Patti Lupone, respectively, in guest spots) and AMC has committed for six more after that, one per month starting in March.

With the broadcast networks all but abandoning older audiences, AMC and other cable channels have carved out a niche with the 50-plus crowd. But younger sophisticates may also enjoy Remember WENN: It moves at a deceptively quick pace, the quips and puns fly fast and the cast and writing are consistently winning.

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Tune Your Antenna to Remember WENN

by John Martin (The Providence Journal-Bulletin)

January 12, 1996--In the early days, those golden wonder days of radio, some amazing sounds came from upstart stations staffed by small cadres of talented and imaginative writers, musicians and performers aided by their indispensable sound effects artists.

It was never as ribald as Paul & Al, nor as raw as Howard Stern, rarely as smart as Garrison Keillor, either, but no less vivid for folks savoring every aural image.

Things were forever going wrong, but most of the time listeners never knew.

At WENN, lots of things go wrong, and are you ever lucky you're going to get to see and hear the chaos behind the scenes.

Remember WENN, premiering tomorrow at 9 p.m. on cable's American Movie Classics (AMC), is a warm and witty return to the Golden Age of radio filled with laughs from a versatile and engaging cast. A second episode, in which the station attempts a first-ever call-in talk show, follows at 9:30.

All things being equal, this could be the best new comedy of the season. Granted, I'm a former radio guy. But if you're tired of the narrow frequency that the network comedies seem to home in on, you'll like this airy romp.

AMC's first original series, which stars a cast largely snatched from the Broadway stage, is set in Pittsburgh in the late '30s. WENN is a crazy quilt of soap operas, action-adventures, science-fiction and corn-pone humor.

You can pretty much anticipate the various types WENN employs - a tough but fair general manager, an insufferably conceited actress and her wayward husband and fellow actor, a nosy switchboard operator, a drunken soap-opera writer, a mute sound-effects man. The newscaster is a '30s version of WKRP in Cincinnati's Les Nessman. And the kid intern will, like WJM-TV's Mary Richards, make it after all.

The show is written by one of the more eclectic personalities in entertainment. Rupert Holmes won an unprecedented three Tony Awards (Best Book, Best Music, Best Lyrics) for The Mystery of Edwin Drood, itself a winner for Best Musical. He wrote songs that Barbra Streisand sang in A Star is Born, and is completing his first novel. If the name is familiar, Holmes was singer-songwriter of the pop hit, "Escape, (a.k.a. The Piña Colada Song)."

Tune in WENN. The first five minutes is a masterful, laugh-filled re- creation of the way radio used to be. After that, you won't touch that dial.

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Rupert Holmes Talks About Developing AMC's New Series Remember WENN

by Jean Prescott (The Biloxi Sun Herald)

January 12, 1996--American Movie Classics certainly didn't invent the comedy TV series about radio. You had to love WKRP in Cincinnati back in the late '70s. And NBC's doing OK in 1996 with NewsRadio.

But when AMC debuts Remember WENN on Saturday, viewers will get a look inside radio's Golden Age, a time when local operations ran on a shoestring and perhaps a half-dozen immensely talented actors filled listeners homes with everything from classical literature to gum-shoe serials.

You had to be there, back in the late '30s, to appreciate the wonder of radio in the days before TV became a household necessity.

Back then, if you cranked the volume really high, you could hang the wash outdoors and not miss a moment, not one breathy sigh of your favorite soap opera.

Back then, you could lie in a hammock on the porch, and through the open window, The Green Hornet carried you with him on some dizzying adventure.

You simply had to be there. At least that's what we thought until we "met" Rupert Holmes, who made it clear that chronological age has nothing to do with understanding the dynamic that made those old radio shows work.

Holmes, a mere lad of 40-something, knows those pre-World War II radio personalities intimately. They live inside his head.

"I'm such a throw-back," says the developer of and writer for the new AMC series, the first two episodes of which will air in tandem Saturday at 8 p.m. on AMC.

"Life is totally chaotic, and the only way it can make sense is to introduce some order."

Remember WENN, set in 1939, has the kind of structured behavior—clearly defined relationships and codes of conduct - that Holmes needs to balance the chaos.

"When people in this show have a disagreement, they simply stop speaking to one another. No blood is shed," he says. "It's a very sweet world with lovely characters, and it's lovely to write for them. A lot is said between the lines."

That fictitious Pittsburgh radio station also may be a familiar refuge for Holmes, whose history is on Broadway.

"A diva's a diva wherever you find her," he says, "and when you're backstage with them and they're having one of their moments…" He pauses and laughs, ever the diplomat.

"But while you're doing a show, the theater is your home, and the cast is your family.

"I tried to give that same feel to Remember WENN. The studio is their home away from home."

The show has its diva, Hilary Booth (Melinda Mullins), the meticulously groomed, thoroughly self-involved spitfire wife of leading man and gadabout, Jeffrey Singer (Hugh O'Gorman).

All of the characters, in fact—from the resourceful station manager, Victor Comstock (John Bedford Lloyd) to the aspiring intern, Betty Roberts (Amanda Naughton)—are broadly drawn but not without endearing if sometimes infuriating personal traits.

"They're all amalgamations of different people I've known," Holmes says, "and I'm trying to write more gently, more appropriately for them."

Ten episodes are "in the can," as they say, but Holmes is ready for an unlimited run.

"I have ideas to take us down through the war years, through post-war, even into the '50s, when TV threatens to kill off radio.

"We'll just have to see how viewers react."

If the six remaining installments measure up to the four we've seen, Remember WENN ought to be around for a long time.

Five minutes into the opening show, these characters will capture your imagination, and you won't be able to wait for the next installment.

Highlights thus far:

- Perhaps the world's first experiment in talk radio, a fiasco to challenge even the precision comedy timing of this mostly-from-Broadway cast.

- Mr. AMC himself, Bob Dorian, as a nervous sponsor.

- Patty Lupone as a star on a war-bonds tour.

- Hamlet done as a detective story to satisfy both The Library Hour lady and the blood-and-guts sponsor.

Holmes is taken with everyone in his troupe of personalities.

"People who lived through that time always tell me, `Oh, it wasn't as glamorous as that,' but when I write about a period I don't know personally, I always do it passionately."

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AMC Offers an Old-Time '40s Radio Serial—Only This Time You Can See It

by Susan King (The Los Angeles Times)

January 12, 1996--Cable's popular American Movie Classics rings in the new year with its first original live-action series, Remember WENN.

A tribute to the Golden Age of radio, the series premieres at 9 p.m. Saturday—the anniversary date of the first radio broadcast to the public. Back on that day in 1910, radio pioneer Lee De Forest arranged a broadcast in New York of opera great Enrico Caruso along with other stars of the Metropolitan Opera.

Set in Pittsburgh in 1939, Remember WENN focuses on a stalwart group of hard-working actors, actresses, technicians and producers at WENN, a small, understaffed radio station.

New York stage actors George Hall, Melinda Mullins, John Bedford Lloyd, Amanda Naughton and Hugh O'Gorman are among the regulars. AMC host Bob Dorian (as a nervous sponsor) and Tony Award-winning actress Patti LuPone and Irene Worth are among the guest stars.

AMC executive producer Paula Connelly-Skorka says the nostalgic AMC has been wanting to get into the series business for the last two years.

"It was one thing that was put on the back burner," she says. "We weren't sure what we wanted to do. We are trying to produce material that will also complement our movies."

Trying to find producers who shared AMC's vision was difficult.

"We really wanted to create the original days of radio," she says. "No one seemed to really grasp the concept." Not until she met producers Howard Meltzer and Frank Doelger. "They seemed to get AMC, too. That is when we went forward with them."

Before production began, Connelly-Skorka sent them a copy of the ill-fated 1994 feature comedy Radioland Murders.

"I said, 'Please don't make this,' It was awful. That's exactly what we didn't want the show to be."

"They wanted something that was very Norman Rockwellish, that kind of left you with the good feeling that they had in the '30s and '40s," says Meltzer.

Meltzer happened to be friends with Rupert Holmes, the Tony Award-winning composer and playwright (Drood) and pop singer ("The Pina Colada Song").

"I directed a couple of his music videos and had kept in touch with him over the years. When I started thinking about writers, I wanted someone who had the sensibility of the '30s and '40s, which is something very specific. I also wanted a writer who could really weave many different stories together at the same time. It was a very easy choice. It was a question of going to Rupert to see if he had time and if he was interested."

Not only was he interested, Holmes has written every episode of the monthly series.

"I have always been addicted to radio," he says. "I missed that era. By the time I could listen to radio, there were only a few shows on the air and they were all on CBS on Sunday nights. There was Suspense, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and Gunsmoke."

With radio, Holmes says, "the sets are as lavish as your imagination wants them. The characters look exactly as you would think they would look. It was a very democratic medium too, because people who would never get to play the hero or the heroine in motion pictures, if their voices sounded heroic or romantic, they were perfectly cast on radio."

One of Holmes' hobbies is collecting vintage radio shows:

"It's especially fun to listen to episodic radio in sort of sequence because you really get a feel for it. I have 90 consecutive episodes from Jack Armstrong All-American Boy from 1939."

He wanted Remember WENN populated with characters who are actors because "I have always loved them. I love behind-the-scenes. I love what goes on behind the scenes of any play, film or radio show."

The series is set in Pittsburgh not just because the city's KDKA became the first federally licensed station in 1920.

"The characters in Remember WENN are one shade of the big time," says Holmes, who also composed the music for the series.

"They have to work much harder than their New York counterparts. To put them in New York would have made them sort of harder to relate to. I wanted to write about people who were so thrilled to be in show business, even if it is show business within Pittsburgh. It's a big city, but still not the first-run city. So they still have their dream of making it in New York."

Each episode, Holmes gets to write a different genre of radio show.

"I have tried to plot the show so the radio show itself becomes part of the plot or the framework within which that week's dilemma is solved," he says. "What makes that fun is there are so many variants of radio shows. There was such a wonderful diversity. You not only had The Thin Man on the radio, you had The Fat Man."

Holmes finds it "lovely" to write a series set in 1939 because "there was a degree of courtesy and manners in the way people dealt with each other that I am allowed to evoke," he says.

"If Character A insults Character B, they are not going to be in their face. The insult will be between the lines. I like the fact that the people are going to be essentially nice people and that the feeling of most of the characters is a kind of coziness that radio bred.

"The beautiful thing about radio was kind of pulling closer to the speaker of the radio and grafting your imagination onto the performance."

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Best Bet

by Steve Nidetz (The Chicago Tribune)

January 13, 1996--Remember WENN: American Movie Classics tries something completely different when the cable channel debuts this comedy/drama series at 8 p.m. Saturday. Set in pre-World War II Pittsburgh, Remember WENN lovingly chronicles the lives of the actors, technicians and producers who populate an understaffed and usually overwhelmed radio station. Written by Tony Award winner Rupert Holmes, the half-hour programs re-create the Golden Age of Radio, down to the fictitious sponsors. The series begins with back-to-back episodes, the second of which features a guest appearance by AMC host Bob Dorian. The regular cast includes stage and screen veterans Christopher Murney (as versatile actor Mackie Bloom), John Bedford Lloyd (station manager Victor Comstock) and Amanda Naughton (station intern Betty Roberts). Instead of being a tiresome nostalgia retread, Remember WENN is the kind of snappy entertainment the broadcast networks seem to have forgotten how to produce. While mostly aimed at the over-50 audience, even the Friends crowd can appreciate the quick pace, the fast-flying puns and the consistently winning writing. Two more shows, with guests Irene Worth and Patti Lupone, are scheduled next month.

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You'll Never Know What They Have Up Their Gildersleeve

by Bob Andelman (Mr. Media column)

January 22, 1996--There's little the Media family enjoys more than listening to classic old-time radio shows such as The Shadow or Fibber McGee & Molly. It must be Mr. Media's advancing age.

Now we have stumbled upon a cable TV show that's just as much fun: Remember WENN, a 30-minute original sitcom airing every Wednesday night on American Movie Classics.

Remember WENN is "WKRP in Cincinnati" time tunneled back to Pittsburgh just before World War II. It is everything the recent George Lucas movie Radioland Murders dreamed of being and more: behind the scenes in a radio station that cranks out soap operas such as Valiant Journey and adventures such as Amazon Andy all day with three actors juggling the parts as well as a little mayhem.

The dialogue between the characters, whose on-air lives spill into their off-air lives, is smart and quite funny.

"I was buried in thought," says the station's new intern, Betty Roberts.

"Yes," says tart-tongued actor Hilary Booth, "and I'm sure it was a shallow grave."

And:

"How many words can you type?" tippling scriptwriter Eldridge [sic] asks Betty.

"Oh!" she replies. "So many kinds!"

Then there's the "Man of 1,000 Voices," who often asks the director, "Who am I now?"

Patti LuPone, who originated the role of Norma Desmond in the stage production of Sunset Boulevard, guest-stars in an upcoming episode. The series was created and written by Rupert Holmes—that's right, the guy who, among other more noteworthy achievements, gave us "The Pina Colada Song." But don't let that deter you from a charming, intelligent series.

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Patti LuPone Guest Stars on AMC's Remember WENN in February

AMC Press Release

January 23, 1996--Tony award-winning actress Patti LuPone makes a special guest appearance in the fourth episode of AMERICAN MOVIE CLASSICS' original live-action series Remember WENN, on Wednesday, February 21 at 8:00 pm.

LuPone plays Miss Grace Cavendish, a famous film star who swings by the WENN studios during her charity tour benefitting European refugees. Miss Cavendish is a former love interest of WENN station manager Victor Comstock and is also the Broadway rival of the Queen of WENN, Hilary Booth.

Set in Pittsburgh just prior to World War II, Remember WENN focuses on a valiant band of actors, actresses, technicians and producers at radio station WENN. Understaffed and overwhelmed, they bravely attempt to supply their listeners with a daily line-up of live programming. Their "on-air" comedy and drama spills out of the broadcast booth and into their "off-air" lives, as their crises and personal relationships ricochet as dramatically as the radio plays they enact.

On the London stage, Patti LuPone created the role of Norma Desmond in the world premiere production of Sunset Boulevard, for which she received an Olivier nomination in 1993 for Best Actress in a Musical. On the Broadway stage, Ms. LuPone portrayed Eva Peron in Evita, for which she received a 1980 Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for Best Actress in a Musical and Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes. Her most notable television credit features her in the role of Libby Thatcher in ABC's Life Goes On.

Remember WENN is written by Rupert Holmes, the multiple Tony Award-winning author and composer of the Broadway musical, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. A recipient of several Edgar and Drama Desk awards, Holmes is perhaps best-known to the public as the singer-songwriter of the multi-platinum recording "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)," and has also created the period music for Remember WENN.

Producing the series is Howard Meltzer and Frank Doelger, founders of The Entertainment Group/Turtleback Production. They have won multiple Emmy and CableACE awards for their television work, including their HBO series Life Stories: Families in Crisis.

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AMC's Remember Wenn Takes Hiatus

Returns As 13-Episode Weekly Series in May

AMC Press Release

February 29, 1996, WOODBURY, NY--In an effort to provide new episodes, without repeats, in a regular time slot, AMERICAN MOVIE CLASSICS is putting its new series, Remember WENN, on a short hiatus. The show will return Saturday, May 4, at 9:00 PM and 1:00 AM (ET) and run each consecutive Saturday at the same times for thirteen weeks. AMC will re-launch with the four previously-seen episodes to reacquaint viewers with the characters and storyline. A run of nine brand-new shows begins in June.

AMC previously announced in November 1995 that ten episodes of the series would air every other week. Four episodes ran in January and February 1996.

"We knew a television show of this caliber would stand out in the television lineup, but, frankly, we didn't anticipate such an overwhelming, positive response from viewers," said Kate McEnroe, Executive Vice President & General Manager, AMC. "Television viewers like to form a habit around their favorite half-hour shows. Being primarily a movie channel, we heard back that it was sometimes difficult to find the show and that a Saturday time slot had a certain appeal, so that is, in effect, what we're trying to do by pulling the show temporarily and rescheduling it for better accessibility."

"We know the fans will be disappointed, but we hope the order of three additional episodes will make up for it," McEnroe added. "We also hope to provide a service by airing a new, weekly program during a period in which the broadcast networks traditionally show reruns."

The new shows beginning in June feature such guest stars as Howard Rollins (In the Heat of the Night, A Soldier's Story), Molly Ringwald (Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club) and John Glover (Love! Valour! Compassion!, Masquerade).

Remember WENN is a half-hour series set in Pittsburgh just prior to World War II. The show focuses on a valiant band of actors, technicians and producers at radio station WENN. Understaffed and overwhelmed, they bravely attempt to supply their listeners with a daily line-up of live programming. Their "on-air" comedy and drama spills out of the broadcast booth and into their "off-air" lives, as their crises and personal relationships ricochet as dramatically as the radio plays they enact.

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"Sight Unseen," Saturday on American Movie Classics' Remember WENN

by Jean Prescott, The Biloxi Sun Herald

May 29, 1996--Return with us now to those thrilling days during the Golden Age of radio, when men were debonair, women wore sassy little hats and television hadn't yet corrupted our imaginations.

We get there not by turning on the radio, oddly enough, but by tuning the TV to American Movie Classics' Remember WENN at 9 p.m. ET Saturday (encore at 1 a.m.).

AMC introduced the original series in January and aired it as an occasional thing. It didn't take viewers long to let the cable channel know that they wanted more, and they wanted the show anchored at a regular broadcast time.

And so we have at least five new episodes, each to air in that regular Saturday time slot. And if series creator and writer Rupert Holmes has his way, there will be dozens more to come.

Holmes remarked when the series premiered that WENN, the fictitious Pittsburgh radio station of the title, is "a very sweet world with lovely characters, and it's lovely to write for them."

Indeed, every member of the WENN crew is a character.

We have Mackie Bloom (Christopher Murney), the utility fellow and a man of a thousand voices.

Celia Mellon (Dina Spybey), the not-so-starry-eyed newcomer, conned her way into a job and proved her mettle on radio's first live talk show.

Victor Comstock (John Bedford Lloyd) manages the station with wit, style and an eye to try anything that might capture new listeners.

Betty Roberts (Amanda Naughton), now Comstock's multi-talented girl Friday, won the right to write for WENN.

Jeffrey Singer (High O'Gorman) is the picture of a leading man and a tomcat in the eyes of his fading flower of a wife, Hilary Booth (Melinda Mullins), whose tongue is sharp but whose heart is tender.

Eugenia Bremer (Mary Stout) makes all the studio's music, and Mr. Foley (Tom Beckett), the sound-effects.

Saturday's episode, the fifth, is titled "Sight Unseen," and it speaks directly to the illusionary magic of radio.

Brat Packer Molly Ringwald, who—God bless her—still sounds as if she's reading lines from a cue card, guest stars as Angela, an avowed fan of "The Vagabond Lover," one of many on-air characters in Mackie Bloom's repertoire.

She visits the station to meet her dream guy and sends Bloom, who is not tall, dark and handsome but short, bald and myopic, into a tail spin—until he learns that his admirer is blind.

His subterfuge is exposed by a clever twist at the end, but why spoil it.

And a secondary story line involving Betty, Comstock and a stuffy school head master has some zippy dialogue worthy of any old Carole Lombard movie.

WENN is a lovely, even innocent place and time to visit, if only for 30 minutes every Saturday evening.

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Remember When Molly Ringwald Was a Regular Sight? Well, She's Back

by Ellen Gray, Philadelphia Daily News

June 3, 1996--Molly Ringwald would like the world to know that her last birthday cake required more than Sixteen Candles.

A dozen more.

While the roles she's being offered have changed, the actress said in an interview last week, most people either think "I'm 18—or that I'm 40."

Ringwald, who returned in January from a 3-year sojourn in Paris, is also back on television, with an ABC sitcom set for fall and a guest appearance Saturday on the American Movie Classics serial Remember WENN.

In the long-awaited fifth episode of WENN (the show, set in a 1930s radio station, only recently went back into production), Ringwald plays a blind woman who falls in love with a radio character, "The Vagabond."

Eschewing some of the mannerisms sighted actors often resort to when playing a blind person, Ringwald plays the character so that it's believable that some WENN characters don't immediately realize she's blind.

It's something she learned from her father, a musician "who's been blind pretty much his whole life," Ringwald said. "When he was a young man, no one knew he was blind… He didn't really have all the mannerisms of a blind person, so if he was without his cane or his guide dog, no one could tell he was blind."

And although the muscles in her father's eyelids have relaxed as he's aged, "sometimes we'll be speaking and I'll swear to God it looks as if he's looking in my eyes and he's not," she said.

"I can't wait for him to see the show," she said, without intentional irony. "He loves radio." Her mother, she said, will have to explain "certain sight gags," but "I think he'll really like it."

Ringwald had never heard of Remember WENN when she was approached with a script and a tape of the first four episodes, which began airing on AMC in January. "I fell in love with it," she said.

And WENN, she found, had something in common with the vintage radio shows on which it's based.

It took only three days to shoot the half-hour episode, in contrast to the week of rehearsals that preceded the shooting of the pilot for her ABC show, Townies, she said.

"We had no rehearsal at all, we didn't even have a read-through," she said.

There was no skimping on the details, however.

"The hair people are really great. We sort of devised this hairdo, imagining that she could do it herself. It's very tactile, with all these pincurls," she said. Noting that her character wears red nail polish, she said, "I imagined her treating herself to a manicure," something her father, who plays piano, as well as banjo, guitar and bass, likes to do now and then.

"He doesn't get polish or anything, but he makes sure his hands stay in shape," she said.

The transition from ingenue to actress can be a tough one in Hollywood, and it's clear Ringwald hopes her years in Paris will do for her what Yale did for Jodie Foster.

Although she worked a little - returning to the U.S. at one point to do ABC's The Stand—"Mostly, I was just concentrating on living, taking time off and learning French," she said, something she did well enough to actually make a movie last summer in French, Enfants de Salaud.

"I needed time away. I'd never done that in my life."

Ringwald, who moved from Sacramento to Los Angeles at age 10 and a year later made her acting debut in The Facts of Life, is a confirmed New Yorker these days. The city, she said, "has an energy that I don't think any other town has."

Her series, however, will be shot in Los Angeles. "I'm not using that word move…but it's true, I'll be spending a lot more time there and I guess I'll learn to like it," she said, sounding less than enthusiastic.

One possible reason for her reluctance is that a move will put another 3,000 miles between Ringwald and her boyfriend of four years, Valery Lameignere, 32, a French writer. Asked if he would be able to spend enough time in the U.S. to satisfy them both, she said, "Hopefully. We're going to sort all that out."

Proud of having learned French well enough to use it as an actress and even to think in it ("Sometimes I'll want to speak French because I can express something better ... which sounds incredibly obnoxious"), Ringwald refuses to credit Lameignere:

"Unfortunately, he speaks English perfectly. All the progress I've made is in spite of him."

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Rupert Holmes Remembers WENN: Radio's Golden Age

I have no writer's credit, but I believe it is from Rolling Stone

June 15, 1996--From Good Morning, World in 1967 and WKRP in Cincinnati in the late '70s to the current Newsradio, television has found radio to be a bountiful source for situation comedies.

But the most inventive and entertaining blend of humor and heart can be found on Remember WENN, now airing Saturdays on American Movie Classics.

Set at a struggling Pittsburgh station in the late '30s, the so-called Golden Age of Radio, Remember WENN, featuring a talented staff of actors, musicians, writers, and a sound effects wizard who account for most of the station's programming, of soap operas, mysteries, and anything else advertisers want (they also sing commercial jingles), and whose adventures alternate between radio history and histrionics; between farce and sensitive takes on social issues.

And it's the work of Rupert Holmes, who in his previous showbiz life was a singer-songwriter and producer who had a Number One hit with "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" in 1979. Far from being a one-hit wonder ("Him" hit the top ten early in 1980), Holmes was also a successful writer and producer for Barbra Streisand (Lazy Afternoon) and worked with the Strawbs, Squeeze, Gene Pitney, and latter-day versions of the Drifters and the Platters.

His steppingstone to Remember WENN was a pretty big one: Broadway. He wrote the award-winning comedy thriller, Accomplice, and followed with The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which won the Tony for best musical, while Holmes became the first person to win Best Book, Best Music, and Best Lyrics Tonys on his own.

To Holmes, it was a short and easy leap from songs to full-length dramas.

"My first album, in the early '70s, was Widescreen," he reminds. "I always wrote story songs."

When American Movie Classics called, he was perfectly set up for the job of tackling Remember WENN. "I had been collecting old radio shows. What appealed to me was the same thing that appealed to me about pop music, before the video age. The listener was invited to make the pictures up themselves."

As a recording and touring artist, he said, he'd also visited numerous radio stations and felt an affinity for the business.

On Remember WENN, it shows. There are sly references to the future-that is, current times-as when the staff concocts a talk show, on the fly, and in response to the engineer's concern that callers might hear themselves on a two-second delay and be confused, the station's writer (Amanda Naughton) asks, "Couldn't we just ask the caller to turn down their radio?"

In the end, radio is the star. As the station manager (played by John Bedford Lloyd) says about WENN's audience: "We give them towers and landscapes, secrets and revelations...and we do it all here, live, on the sparest of threadbare budgets, with a troupe of actors who are underpaid and under-rehearsed and overwhelmed, and have yet to learn that this simply cannot be done."

But it can be. Holmes, having scripted a Bette Midler musical, Traps, for NBC, and busily working on Speak Easy, a movie starring Reba McEntire, is writing a second season's worth of scripts for Remember WENN.

Until then, the first season is playing Saturday evenings, and the show is as good a reason as any to finally learn to set the timer on your VCR.

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Radio On The Edge

by Curt Holman for Creative Loafing

June 15, 1996--Is it a contradiction in terms for a cable channel called American Movie Classics to produce an original television series about a radio station? Perhaps, but AMC's situation comedy Remember WENN, which airs every Saturday at 9 p.m. (repeated Wednesdays at 8 p.m.), is charming and nostalgic enough to fit nicely with the network's roster of black-and-white Hollywood studio films.

In depicting the frenetic behind-the-scenes action at a Pittsburgh station in 1939, Remember WENN mines similar material as Woody Allen's film Radio Days and Garrison Keillor's novel WLT. Each dramatizes the medium's "Golden Age," before television wooed away its audience and left radio as a way for drivers to listen to top-40 singles and blowhard talk-show hosts while commuting.

Rather, it's a time when the airwaves were dominated by live broadcasts of two-fisted serials, literary readings, etiquette lessons and soap operas with titles like Our Fleeting Passion and Second Chance for Love. WENN's stories revolve around a cast of characters as familiar as the actors playing them are not: There's an aging prima donna, a voice-of-sanity station manager, a dewy ingenue and a "man of 1,000 voices" whose dashing, romantic voice belies his nebbishy demeanor.

If the roles are all-too predictable, the scripts are consistently clever, reminiscent of the light subplots on Homefront, the acclaimed, short-lived series about the 1940s. Can Rupert Holmes, the show's creator, really be the same man behind "The Piña Colada Song" and The Mystery of Edwin Drood?

One plot has the station trying to please two influential sponsors, one a deep-pocketed low-brow demanding more violent action, the other an influential high-brow wanting brainier fare. To reconcile both parties, the station presents a retelling of Hamlet as a hard-boiled detective story about Sam Dane, Private Eye: "To live, or not to live, that's some question." At the end of the broadcast, the announcer teases another updated Shakespeare, saying "Next week, Beth and Mac, the most evil twosome since Bonnie and Clyde! Murder -- with a shot of Scotch!"

Its period setting and lack of laugh track could conceivably give Remember WENN the kind of small but loyal following that shows like Frank's Place and The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd briefly enjoyed. It's already seeing some better-known guest stars, like Patti LuPone and Molly Ringwald (in the cornball role as a blind radio fan). More original series as pleasant as Remember WENN would be most welcome, although AMC should probably hang onto the old movies that make up its "day job."

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