By Kinney Littlefield (Orange County Register)The series is a gentle joy of a comedy.
July 10, 1998Merry, mischievous melodrama. Clever, compassionate comedy. Airing tonight, the AMC sitcom Remember WENN charmingly reprises the heydey of live 1940s-era radio. At its best, this is a remarkably well-written series, spryly mixing vaudevillian silliness and literate wit as is seen in tonight's engaging episode, "And If I Die Before I Sleep." Why "Die"? Because the quirky staff of wacky Pittsburgh station WENN is bent on breaking the world's record for the longest radio program broadcast. That means going more than 50 hours live. Its improbable program of choice? A dramatization of Shakespeare's "Three Gentlemen of Verona" that disintegrates into hilarious chaos as everyone gets almost drunkenly "sleep-depraved."
Of course, in typical "WENN" style, there's more afoot than mere slap-happy slapstick. Dour Mr. Abernathy (guest star John Ratzenberger of Cheers) is sent by Ginlet's Guide to World Records to monitor the marathon but is not quite who he seems. He and his ominous nurse-companion have a hidden agenda that WENN's inventive talent and producers must discover and thwart if they can just stay awake.
As always, Melinda Mullins and Hugh O'Gorman wax marvelously melo-traumatic as WENN's hammy voice talent Hilary Booth and Jeff Singer, respectively.
But the series' heart is its astute writing by Rupert Holmes. Sometimes Holmes' words are wonderfully playful and punny, and sometimes they're just plain inspiredly strange.
By Hour 41 of the marathon, Jeff's brain is strained way beyond Shakespeare. Leaning into WENN's microphone, he disjointedly intones, "When in Rome...Speare-y's shaky vision of Italy ...where lashing hordes and crashing bores ...spring out things."
Meanwhile, Hilary and the other WENNers crash, droop and drop to the floor mouthing more bizarro-delicious morsels.
The best part it's all in good civilized fun. No overstretched sexual innuendoes or crudities to be heard. Enjoy.
Also coming up on Remember WENN: Daniel Benzali, star of late, lamented ABC drama Murder One, will do a guest turn July 17. Greg Germann (Ally McBeal) and Peter Gerety (Homicide) will appear Aug. 14.
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By Melissa Rose Bernardo (InTheater)Rupert Holmes gives AMC a TV show to Remember
July 31, 1998When American Movie Classics wanted to get into original programing, the powers-that-be looked no further than the theater. What they found was writer/composer Rupert Holmes; what they got was Remember WENN. Four seasons, one Emmy, and three CableACE awards later, the comedy series continues to thrive on its theatrical roots.
"I'm really writing [the show] as if I were writing for the theater," says Holmes, who has penned 52 of WENN's 56 episodes. "I view it as one long play."
WENN follows a troop of actors at a struggling radio station in Pittsburgh (the call letters WENN) circa 1940, as they muddle through the day-to-day tasks of programming. "They're trying to do something that really cannot be done: to provide a full day of diverse programming with dramas, comedy, variety shows, soap operas, news, westernsall with a handful of actors and no budget," Holmes explains. "It's a little like off-off-Broadway."
The theatrical links don't end there. The castprovided with delightfully old-fashioned names like Gertie, Eugenia, Maple, and Mackieincludes stock characters like the ingenue, the straight man, and the diva. They get rimshot-inducing jokes like "We've broken a lot of records here at the station. Luckily, most of them were made by Rudy Vallee." Ba-dum-dum. And nearly every cast member comes from a theatrical background, which producer Howard Meltzer relishes. "I really wanted the core cast to be from Broadway," he says. "I can always tell when people audition if they were trained in theater. They are always more layered and can shade the parts more."
Then there's Holmes himself, a Tony winner for writing the book, music, and lyrics for the 1985 musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood, not to mention the man behind plays like Accomplice and Solitary Confinement. Meltzer knew right away Holmes was his man for Remember WENN. "I'm a huge fan of his work," Meltzer explains. "Like the old English writers and mystery writers, he is able to weave stories together brilliantly, and that was exactly what I wanted for the show. I wanted stories woven on top of each other, with twists and turns every minute. I also knew that Rupert loves the era; he is a big fan of the '30s and '40s. So it was a simple choice."
Say Holmes, "AMC came to me and said, 'Do you have an idea about radio?' And I said, 'Try and stop me!' So 48 hours later there was a radio station WENN and this whole cast of characters." Since WENN plays for a half-hour commercial-free, Holmes feels he's writing a play. He employes his favorite theatrical devices like multiple doors (which inevitably swing open and closed). And since the main seven-room set never changes, WENN comes even closer to Holmes' specialty: "Your basic one-set, two-act, four-scene thriller."
"Whatever happens in the episode must be created and resolved in that set. We never go to someone's apartment; we never go to the movie theater," Holmes explains. "In the tradition of plays like Noises Off, we have the studio itself, where the show is being put on. But also like Noises Off, we see what's going on with the actors as they put on the show. We see what is developing in the hallway, the greenroom, the writers' room, the office, the reception areaall of which is creating a problem and is invariably reaching its culmination during the broadcast."
Not only does Holmes endow the show with its words, but he also gives it music. He composed the slow, mysterious theme song, and wrote original songs for guest stars Donna Murphy, Patti LuPone, and Betty Buckley. But as WENN's fourth season draws to a close, it's Holmes' scripts that continue to draw the most praise. "When people ask me what makes the show special and fun, I always have to go back to the writing," says Carolee Carmello, who plays Maple LaMarsh. "I've never gotten a line from him and said, 'Gee, I don't think Maple would ever say that.' That's what makes it so pleasurable for actors." Adds Meltzer, "The words! The words are fabulous. You don't get words like this on TV sitcoms." And if you're wondering how long this successful theatrical/TV partnership can last, ask Holmes. He apparently is just getting started. "I'm writing the world's longest two-act farce," says Holmes with a laugh. "And I haven't even reached intermission yet."
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By Rob Owen (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
August 1, 1998On AMC's Remember WENN, actresses Amanda Naughton and Mary Stout are confined to the studios of a fictitious 1940s-era Pittsburgh radio station. This week they've been freed to go On the Town in Civic Light Opera's production of the classic musical.
But they're still trapped in Pittsburgh and the '40s. And that's fine by them.
"What is it about Pittsburgh in the '40s?" Naughton said in the Benedum Center green room Thursday afternoon. "I sometimes wonder if I'll ever do a contemporary piece."
On the Town runs through tomorrow with Naughton as Claire De Loone, an icy anthropologist whose libido is set free when she meets a young sailor. Stout plays Madame Maude P. Dilly, a vocal instructor.
Although both appear on Remember WENN, they didn't come to CLO as a package deal.
"I auditioned and then didn't hear about it for the longest time," Naughton said. "Then when I heard I'd gotten it I went into Mary's dressing room to tell her, and she said, 'Me too!'"
This is Naughton's first trip to Pittsburgh, but her father, actor Jack Naughton, appeared in a CLO production of Pajama Game in 1960. She said her grandfather, Robert C. Jarvis, directed productions at the CLO in the 1940s and 1950s.
Stout was in Pittsburgh earlier this summer appearing in SteelCity Theatre's Last of the Red Hot Mamas. She'll be seen this fall in the Eddie Murphy movie Holy Man and will soon film scenes for an upcoming Woody Allen film.
Unlike many actors who tire of the TV shows they star in, both Naughton and Stout remain wildly enthusiastic about WENN.
"There's no end to where we could take the show," Stout said. The show's current season is set in 1941. "Obviously the next door to open is World War II."
Naughton plays talented head writer Betty Roberts, while Stout is the slightly out-of-it organist, Eugenia Bremer. Stout described the show's small but loyal following as avid - and observant. In one episode Carnegie Mellon was mentioned, but back then, it still would have been Carnegie Tech.
"We try really hard not to make mistakes," Naughton said, "but when people call us on stuff like that it tickles us because it means people are really listening."
While in town the pair tracked down Isabella Street on the North Side, the fictional location of WENN.
"It's all torn up now," Stout said. "It looks like an alley."
Stout and Naughton said series creator/writer Rupert Holmes purposefully steered the show into more madcap comedy this season, knowing the war is looming for the fifth season. If there is a fifth season.
The show's fourth year is airing at 10 p.m. Fridays, and Naughton said the cast will hear in August whether the show will go back into production for another batch of episodes. They're confident that will happen: the sets are still standing, Holmes has written another cliffhanger for the fourth-season finale and AMC is running a contest at its Web site with a walk-on role on WENN as the grand prize.
Both actors hope more viewers in their 20s and 30s will tune in. Judging by fan mail and Internet chatter, they said it's clear children and older viewers are already watching.
"It's an age of a simpler life," Stout said. "And I think people are comforted by that."
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By Gary Budzak (Columbus Dispatch)
August 13, 1998For a central Ohio woman and two TV actors, the Internet offers links to friendship and fan appreciation.
"I do my hobby for a living," said Michele Savage, a computer-graphics specialist at Coaxial Communications who designs a site devoted to the TV series Remember WENN.
Awash in orange with art-deco lettering, her WENN page captures the atmosphere of the American Movie Classics comedy.
The series a WKRP in Cincinnati from a kinder, gentler time is set in the studios of a Pittsburgh radio station just before World War II, with an ensemble cast re-creating broadcasts of the era.
"My interest in the show and its cast is a creative outlet," Savage said.
She and her husband, programming consultant Steve, have a computer room in their North Side apartment where they work on their Web sites and from which they share their interests with the world.
For space on the World Wide Web, Savage pays SimpleNet, a site-hosting company, $10 a month.
"It's a really great bargain," she said, adding that her site draws plenty of feedback from Web surfers.
"We're all friends. We get together in chat rooms. I like the satisfaction of knowing that other people like it."
The upkeep of her WENN site, in operation for about a year, requires up to three hours once a day or once a week, "depending on how much time I have."
Her page includes a link to another Savage site, Adorable: Jeff & Hilary's Website devoted to the hot WENN couple, Jeffrey Singer (Hugh O'Gorman) and Hilary Booth (Melinda Mullins).
O'Gorman himself follows the sites.
"On Michele Savage's page, you can go to `Fanfiction,' " he said from New York City. "It's fan fiction that they have written, fictional episodes that our writers have not written. So it's pretty wild; they get pretty into it."
O'Gorman knows of at least two dozen WENN sites, which keep him abreast of what viewers like and how they view his character.
"It's nice because when we shoot our show in a very dark warehouse sound stage in Queens, N.Y., you never know if people actually see this thing. And to have e-mail from Utah and California and Florida, and as far away as Seattle, really helps motivate a lot of us."
Mary Stout, a Marietta, Ohio, native who plays Eugenia Bremer, knows the Savage site as "the one with the museum," containing photographs and audio snippets "captured" from the show.
This month, National Public Radio is airing a profile of Stout in which she sings the Remember WENN theme song.
"Rupert Holmes, the creator of our series, said, `I could easily go online and...access that little show, and I could make you a copy,'" she said. "To me, that's unbelievable."
Another devotional site is maintained by Georgia fan Linda Young, who with her husband "came to visit the studio," Stout said. "She of course includes all of that in the Web site."
Many fans know the show so intimately that they quote lines.
"Every now and then, someone will pop on (via e-mail); they'll want to know what's going to happen on the show. And I always try so gingerly to say, `Well, I just can't let ya know.'...We're sworn to secrecy. But I enjoy chatting with them."
The fans who participate in chat rooms about the show "all have mysterious little love affairs with all the characters," she said. "And they have these little battles. And I think it's all quite healthy; I really do."
Stout also checks out the news groups, which she likes because of their anonymity.
"As a performer, the news groups are a wonderful way to sort of see where we're at and how people are feeling about the show. Every week, when the show airs, there's a whole barrage of letters that people write to each other."
O'Gorman has been "pleasantly surprised" by the quantity of appreciative e-mail from younger fans one result, he thinks, of the lack of violence, profanity, commercials and a laugh track.
He sees another Web benefit: an increase in viewer loyalty.
"I know it's affected AMC," he said. "We're hanging by a thread every year. We don't know if we're going to get renewed, and I'm sure that to some extent the amount of feedback they've gotten from people on the Internet has affected their thinking." "It's nice to have the interaction," Savage said. "It's mutual respect. It's nice to feel like we matter...
"We've all become good friends, so the friendships are going to last."
Come October, the friends plan to meet in person.
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By Ellen Gray (Philadelphia Daily News)
August 13, 1998For a show set in a radio station in World War II-era Pittsburgh, AMC's Remember WENN is often on the cutting edge of casting.
Thanks in part to creator Rupert Holmes' extensive theater connections, guest stars have included everyone from Sunset Boulevard diva Betty Buckley to Caroline in the City co-star Malcolm Gets. Molly Ringwald made it her first stop on her trip back to television. (OK, it was a short trip.) And Dina Spybey (SubUrbia) did the pincurl perm number on WENN before slouching off to join NBC's Men Behaving Badly.
So it's no surprise that Friday's edition of WENN will feature Greg Germann, whose day job is about as '90s a gig as television offers, playing the ethics-challenged, wattle-obsessed Richard Fish on Fox's Ally McBeal.
How did Holmes hook him?
"He was very flattering and said he wanted to write something for me. And I'm sure that's the easiest way to any actor," Germann said last week in a phone interview from the set of Ally.
Joking that "we've all taken a secret oath and we have these telltale tattoos on our left buttocks," Germann acknowledged that his own theater background probably played a part in making the connection with Holmes, a Broadway playwright and composer (The Mystery of Edwin Drood).
"When you're out here" in Los Angeles, he said, "it's harder to keep yourself connected to all that," which is why he welcomed the opportunity.
At the time, too, he was participating in the annual one-act play marathon at Manhattan's Ensemble Studio Theater, "and they made it very easy for me to do."
Ally McBeal fans may recognize some Fish-like qualities in Arden Sage, an aphorism-spouting writer Germann likens to "a precursor of motivational speaker Tony Robbins."
He said, however, that he asked Holmes not to make his character too much like Fish because "I'm doing this character every week...I wasn't just reaching into my horrible bag of tricks."
Some of those tricks come to him courtesy of Ally McBeal creator David E. Kelley, who, like Holmes, writes just about every word of his series (and in Kelley's case, writes most of ABC's The Practice as well).
The resemblance between the two overachievers wasn't lost on Germann. Of Holmes, he said: "The guy clearly has something on the ball, and you always learn something when you work with people like that."
Switching to Kelley, he adopts the reverential tones most actors who've worked with him use when talking to reporters, saying it would be "terrifying" to consider the possibility of Kelley's ever leaving the day-to-day writing, as he did a few seasons ago on CBS's Chicago Hope.
While it's Germann who's become publicly associated with the expression of the moment, Bygones, the actor said he feels "a little separated from it."
"Bygones is David Kelley's," he said. "It's wonderful and terrific, but I honestly feel that the credit goes to David Kelley because he's such a wonderful writer that television is lucky to have."
And no, he hasn't noticed that his on-air romance with actress Dyan Cannon has brought him any added attention from older women.
"This is a boring answer, but it's like a role I'm playing," he said, adding that recently, while attending a movie, his wife told him: " 'We have to move our seats because these teen-age girls saw you and they're sort of going nuts.'"
One older man did confide that since the show premiered, "he'd discovered his wife's wattle," Germann said. "I'm thinking, this might be a little more information than I should know."
(Note to those who shun Ally: Wattle refers to the spot on the front of a woman's neck that, er, relaxes with age.)
Now that Germann has shown the way, can WENN fans expect Ally McBeal star Calista Flockhart to show up next?
"I have no idea," he said. "If she is as easily flattered as I am, she will be. Rupert is very persuasive!"
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By Stephanie Simons (Tacoma Morning News Tribune)
August 17, 1998Actor Kevin O'Rourke has gotten the red-carpet treatment before. Last year, for example, he and the rest of the cast of a TV show called Remember WENN were nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award.
They got to make a grand entrance to the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, past the paparazzi whose flashes turn mere mortals into celebrities.
"All the photographers were like, 'Who are you?'" he said, laughing.
They hadn't heard of Remember WENN, and chances are you haven't, either. The acclaimed show, now in its fourth season, airs Friday nights at 10 p.m. on American Movie Classics, a network best known for old movies not original comedy series.
"It's a little bit of a sleeper," O'Rourke said. "We contend that if more people knew about it, it would be a big hit."
If that happens, maybe O'Rourke will be donating memorabilia to the Seattle Planet Hollywood instead of just dining there, as he did during a recent trip to the Puget Sound area.
O'Rourke, who is married and has two sons, has lived in Manhattan for 22 years, but has roots around these parts. He grew up on Gravelly Lake, graduated from Charles Wright Academy in 1974 and still has six of seven siblings - and his mother - in the area. His father died last year.
He seems like a Tacoma kind of guy: lacking pretension, hard-working. When he mentions that he knew Bruce Willis before Moonlighting, when both were bartenders, and refers to his pal Samuel L. Jackson as "Sam," it doesn't feel like name-dropping.
His resume includes voiceovers, a few films and many stage credits, most notably Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on Broadway with Kathleen Turner.
And then there's Law and Order. He's guested on other TV shows (Kate and Allie, New York Undercover), but Law and Order is the plum.
"People still stop me on the street and say, 'You were the guy burying the babies, weren't you?'"
He played a man married to a woman with Munchausen by proxy, a woman who kept killing her children.
"That was a great role, one of my favorites," he said. He also played the Los Angeles district attorney in a recent three-part special.
Actors like him love Law and Order because it's so well-written, and the same is true of Remember WENN, which has drawn guest stars like Broadway diva Betty Buckley, Daniel Benzali (the intense bald guy from Murder One), John Ratzenberger (Cheers), John Henson (Talk Soup), Greg Germann (Fish on Ally McBeal) and Peter Gerety (Homicide).
Remember WENN is also fun because it's a period piece. It's set at a Pittsburgh radio station just before World War II, and the ensemble gets to dress up not just in the day-to-day clothes of the era, but also in a variety of more outrageous clothes. The screwball adventures of the WENN staff can mean everything from cross-dressing to outright burlesque, songs and all.
"My character has a bit of a shady past," O'Rourke said.
His character is Scott Sherwood, a bit of a con man at heart who carries on a tentative romance with the sweet Betty Roberts, played by Amanda Naughton. Their dialogue and their dance of attraction are captivating, and O'Rourke said every word and even every stumble is planned in advance.
The show is written by Rupert Holmes, who is best remembered as the man who unleashed "The Pina Colada Song" on our collective consciousness in 1979.
And when I say Holmes writes the show, I mean he writes all of it, from the clever mouthfuls of words the actors speak to the songs they sometimes sing to the incidental music that accompanies the purposely faded, retro-looking filmed images of the show.
Remember WENN is on hiatus, meaning production of new episodes has ceased until or if - the network decides it wants more.
"The network likes to call it 'hiatus,'" O'Rourke said. "I like to call it being laid off, because that's what it is."
O'Rourke said he expects to find out the show's fate later this month. Meanwhile, he's on to his next project: a Hallmark Hall of Fame remake of Rear Window with Christopher Reeve in the Jimmy Stewart role. It also stars Sherry Stringfield (formerly of ER) and Robert Forster (Jackie Brown).
"I play one of Chris' partners in an architecture firm," O'Rourke said.
O'Rourke must be a great actor, because he's nothing like the slick fellow of WENN or the pathetic father in that L&O episode.
His eyes twinkle, his smile comes easily. He deserves a show like WENN.
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By Jon Bowman (Santa Fe New Mexican)Santa Fe native finds success as New York actress
September 18, 1998Melinda Mullins learned to master stage fright by presenting Macbeth before a captive audience at Acequia Madre Elementary School.
When she was only in sixth grade, she devised her own staging of the Shakespeare tragedy, patterned after a production she had seen in London.
"The skulls, the ghosts, the grand finale all of it impressed me immensely," said Mullins, who now lives in New York City. "I knew I had to have it. Right then and there, I settled on becoming an actress."
The Acequia Madre performance ended in shambles. Mullins threw a fit when her young co-star failed to follow directions and muffed their big scene.
Undaunted, Mullins pressed ahead with her theatrical ambitions. No doubt, she could laugh about her shaky debut years later when she took to the stage of New York's Public Theatre, essaying the role of Lady Macbeth opposite Raul Julia.
Lithe and energetic, Mullins is perhaps best-known these days for her madcap antics on American Movie Classics' nostalgic sitcom Remember WENN. Created by Rupert Holmes and now in its fourth season, the Emmy Award-winning show revisits a World War II-era Pittsburgh radio station run on a shoestring and a prayer by a colorful band of misfits, none more zany than Mullins' spoiled prima donna Hilary Booth.
TV Guide's Matt Roush hailed the critical darling as a scene-stealer, "a tarnished Tallulah of a Broadway diva who lords her spotty resume over her long-suffering colleagues."
In contrast to the vain and vociferous Ms. Booth, the soft-spoken Mullins claims a solid resume of television, stage and cinema credits. Her comic chops landed her parts in the movies What About Bob? and Dennis the Menace but Shakespearean drama is her real cup of tea.
"I love the classics," she said. "I really do."
It comes naturally. She remembers "already being an oddball" by the time she reached St. Michael's High School, dressing in black and reciting Shakespeare out in back of the school while her classmates went about their ways.
Her mastery of diction, honed on the stage, has served her well. She's done hundreds of commercial voice-overs, notably pitching Excedrin. She probably needed headache relief after her last marathon session in a recording studio, wrapping 15 TV commercials in two days.
And, on Remember WENN, some of the funniest episodes require her to play multiple quick-change roles, slipping from her persona as the uppity Booth to masquerade as Booth's aggressive agent, Doris Snithing. Mullins even occasionally plays a third character, the grand dame Norma Dismal.
Much of the fun doing Remember WENN stems from the improvising and constant stretching to pull off something flashy despite a bare-bones budget. Typically each episode costs "what Seinfeld used to spend on coffee," she said.
Mullins never knows what to expect. Holmes, the show's sole writer, never visits the set but squirrels away in Scarsdale, N.Y., turning out scripts at a frenzied pace.
"We're not really sure he exists," Mullins said. "Well, we know he exists because the scripts come through every week."
Mullins doesn't rest on her laurels either. A graduate of both the Juilliard School of Drama and the Conservatoire National d'Art Dramatique in Paris, she often travels to Europe, indulging a passion for French literature. She also is an accomplished translator, a painter and sculptor, and a pianist with a deep reverence for ragtime.
"I can't control myself," she said. "My dad always said that I'd be a jack- of-all-trades and a master of none."
As frequently as her hectic schedule permits, she gets back to New Mexico to relax with family and friends. Whenever she's gone for long, she'll hit the easel in her Manhattan apartment and paint New Mexico scenes.
After a summer in Santa Fe, she's returning to the New York rat race but hopes to make another Santa Fe pilgrimage in November to participate in 100 Years A New Mexico Film Celebration. The weekend festival Nov. 20 and 21 will salute the state's movie heritage, beginning with Thomas A. Edison's Indian Day School shot at Isleta Pueblo in 1898.
Barring stage conflicts, Mullins will be on hand to presents segments from Remember WENN and greet her hometown fans. Perhaps she also will recall the anecdotes of her grandfather, a Santa Fe-area rancher who broke into show business as an extra in Cowboy, a Glenn Ford Western shot in the vicinity.
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By Rob Owen, (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
September 29, 1998This means war, though not the kind of war viewers of AMC's Remember WENN expected.
On Friday, American Movie Classics unceremoniously canceled the 1940s-era Pittsburgh-set comedy/drama series just as the show was about to enter World War II.
Rather than watching the WENN crew do their part on the homefront in the fight against Nazis, fans of the acclaimed series are battling another nefarious foe: AMC executives.
Normally, I wouldn't begrudge a network for canceling a series that had completed its fourth season; four years is usually enough for any program. But WENN had half the number of episodes in each of its seasons than most network shows.
Worst of all, "WENN" concluded its fourth season last month with multiple cliffhangers: Will Betty (Amanda Naughton) choose spontaneous Scott (Kevin O'Rourke) or responsible Victor (John Bedford Lloyd)? Will Eugenia (Mary Stout) tie the knot with Mr. Foley (Tom Beckett)? To whom is Hilary (Melinda Mullins) secretly married? And what will her erstwhile husband, Jeff (Hugh O'Gorman), say about it?
To these lingering questions, there may never be answers.
A show that could alternately be slapstick-funny and heartbreakingly dramatic, Remember WENN was a gem that deserved better from its network. AMC's shoddy treatment of the show and its viewers will linger in the minds of fans and TV critics for a long time to come.
In a phone interview yesterday, Marc Juris, AMC's senior vice president of original programming, said the network decided after 56 episodes, which will continue to be rerun, that it made more sense to "develop other shows as good as or hopefully better than Remember WENN."
"Although we plan things out as much as possible, changes in strategy and changes in direction are things we all have to deal with as best we can," Juris said of the decision to cancel the show after the cliffhanger was written, shot and aired. "We are addressing ways we can wrap up the show. We don't know if we would do an episode or take another approach to it ... something non-traditional just as the series is non-traditional."
Juris said series creator Rupert Holmes is in the midst of another project, but that he and executive producer Paula Connelly-Skorka, a Pittsburgh native, may come up with some sort of a conclusion.
Juris said the winner of the fourth-season "win a walk-on role on Remember WENN" contest will instead receive "something of equal or greater value," not that there is much of greater sentimental value to "WENN" fans.
Calls to Holmes were not immediately returned. Star Mary Stout, who was in Pittsburgh in late July in the cast of CLO's On the Town, said she became concerned about future seasons of "WENN" when the show's set was struck and put in storage in mid-August.
"I'm sure Rupert is upset, and we all are," Stout said in a phone interview yesterday. "But there's not too much we can do except try to get a conclusion out of [AMC]. And I'd love to see us have some sort of life on another network. I think PBS is a definite shot for us."
PBS produced a final I'll Fly Away movie after NBC canceled that drama in the early '90s, but Juris said the network had no plans to sell WENN to another network.
Rita Motor, a Remember WENN fan in Greenfield, said she liked the show in part because of its Pittsburgh setting.
"I guess I can kind of pretend WENN is the way KDKA used to be in the early days of radio," she said. "This is where radio really started and made it big, and on WENN everything's happening almost in my neck of the woods."
Dana Sherman, a Remember WENN fan from Kew Gardens Hills, N.Y., said fans on the Internet are trying to determine the best "save our show" tactic. Some fans in the newsgroup alt.tv.remember-wenn have even suggested writing to their cable company and asking to have AMC removed from the cable system in favor of its rival, Turner Classic Movies.
Not a bad idea.
Normally I don't support boycotts, but this time, count me in.
After courting fans with its first original series, AMC is now willing to ditch those fans without offering a proper conclusion to WENN. If AMC has so little respect for the audience, why should viewers do anything to support the network?
Here's the plan: Don't watch AMC. Change the channel. Write a letter to AMC's Juris at 1111 Stewart Ave., Bethpage, NY 11714.
Danette Calderwood, a WENN fan in Bellingham, Wash., said she just wants closure.
"Our last hope is that Rupert will write a final script and post it to the Internet. At least we'd know what happened to the characters."
Despite the cancellation, Sherman is still planning a trip to Pittsburgh with about seven other WENN fans over Columbus Day weekend. She said viewers who talk about the show online decided to meet in Pittsburgh because it's the show's setting and, coincidentally, it's a central location to fans from all over the country.
AMC executives claim one reason for WENN's demise was their desire to add a new series in December called The Lot, set at a small movie studio in 1937. Currently there are only three episodes of "The Lot" filmed, Juris said, but the network is in pre-production on additional installments.
But why should any viewer invest time watching The Lot or any future AMC original series knowing it could get yanked without resolution?
I won't bother and neither should you.
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By S.U. Mahesh (Albuquerque Journal)
November 22, 1998Oscar nominee Marsha Mason would like to see theater group that could attract major productions and performers to the city.
A regional theater based in Santa Fe could attract big-name stars to the City Different, and possibly help aspiring local actors and actresses launch their careers in show business, three Hollywood actresses with New Mexico ties said on Saturday.
Speaking at a panel discussion as part of this weekend's film festival, "100 Years A New Mexico Film Celebration," at the College of Santa Fe, the actresses said the lack of established theater groups in Santa Fe made it impossible to bring major productions to the city.
"Realistically, I don't think you can make a living here. In terms of generating work, it's difficult," said Marsha Mason, a four-time Oscar nominee and a Santa Fe resident.
Mason said Santa Fe theater groups should get together and establish a group to attract major productions and performers to the city.
Citing Chicago as an example, Mason said the Windy City has about 42 theater groups, some nationally established such as The Goodman Theater.
"I think it's quite possible to do that here. Now is the good time," she said.
A nationally established theater group would also allow big-time actors and actresses to visit Santa Fe or live in the city, Mason said.
Melinda Mullins, who was raised in Albuquerque and most recently played roles in the films Remember WENN [sic] and What About Bob?, said she would love to come back to New Mexico if she could find a steady acting job.
Mullins, who now lives in New York City, said it was difficult for actors or actresses to live in New Mexico since there were no acting jobs here.
Jo Harvey Allen, another actress who splits her time between Santa Fe and Austin, Texas, said Santa Fe could be a host city to a television sitcom.
"With so many tourists, you can bring them in for the audience," said Allen, who had parts in True Stories and Fried Green Tomatoes.
Mason advised those attending the panel discussion, mostly women, to go to Los Angeles or New York if they wished to pursue their dreams of becoming actors.
"You can't do it here. That would be foolish," Mason said.
The three women also discussed their own life experiences as actresses. They urged audience members not to give up their dreams because they were away from showbiz hubs like Hollywood or New York.
"Believe in your heart and follow your heart," Mullins said. She added that there would be several setbacks along the way.
"You will not get every part you have auditioned for," she said. "The moral here is to keep your sense of humor and move on."
Mullins said she recently lost an acting job for "a tiny role" in a Broadway play to a much more popular actress.
The reality, Mullins said, is that theater companies want to sell more tickets by casting popular personalities. "It is just like any other business, they want to make profits."
Allen said, "You don't have to get the whole thing at once. Go step by step, then the doors will start opening."
The three actresses noted that fewer roles were being offered to middle- aged and older women in the business.
"The older you get, the better you get. But there is less work," Mullins said.
Mullins said she turned 40 recently and planned to focus her creativity on writing scripts and other aspects of show business.
"Look at Shakespeare. How many parts are for women and how many parts are for older women?" Mullins asked. She answered her own questions, saying there are very few.
Mason said when she was younger and more famous she didn't have to audition for roles, but now that she's older she has to.
Mason said she was focusing her attention on writing scripts, directing and reading, among other things. "You do other things to find your creative satisfaction," she said.
In the next two years, about 60 percent of the nation's population will be 40 years or older, Mason said. "We know there is an audience We have to tell our stories."
Mason said she was optimistic that more roles will be offered to older actresses in the future.
"When we started, it was about acting," she said. "It's not about acting anymore. It's about personalities."
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