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[01/08/04 - 12:00 AM]
TCA Winter Press Tour: A&e
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The Television Critics Association began its winter press tour this week in which the various broadcast and cable networks talk about their upcoming plans to the nation's top critics and entertainment reporters.

Here's a breakdown of the highlights of A&E's presentation (via press release):

A&E Network(R) Announces Five New Original Movies in Development For Its 2004-2005 Season

Projects Include: Brooke Ellison, Riverman, Forever Barbie, Chessmates (Working Title) and The Last Days Of Pompeii

A&E Network is fast-tracking development of five new original movies, featuring its most diverse slate of genres, titles and talents, it was announced today by Bob DeBitetto, Senior Vice President, Programming, A&E Network.

"A&E is revving up its original production output, with a full year of outstanding original movies about extraordinary individuals," said DeBitetto. "Over the next twelve months, we are asking the top creative talents in the business to tell some of the greatest life stories around."

Among the projects currently in development:

BROOKE ELLISON -- A&E is developing the miraculous true story of Brooke Ellison, a young quadriplegic who, with her mother's help, finishes high school and college and delivers the commencement speech at her Harvard graduation. Christopher Reeve is interested in directing. Based on the best-selling book, Miracles Happen, One Mother, One Daughter, One Journey by Brooke and Jean Ellison, this is an inspiring, life-affirming tale about overcoming adversity and defying the odds. Delia Fine serves as the executive producer for A&E Network and David Craig is the supervising producer. Howard Meltzer, TurtleBack Productions; Howard Braunstein and Michael Jaffe, Jaffe/Braunstein Films; and Christopher Reeve, Cambria Productions are the executive producers. The screenplay is adapted by Camille Thomasson (Luther).

RIVERMAN -- The true story of the Green River serial killer and the profiler who was approached by Ted Bundy to help solve the crime. This is the headline story that inspired Silence of the Lambs and, after 20 years, reached it's conclusion in November of 2003 with the man identified as the murderer confessing to more than 40 murders, making him the worst serial killer in history. Based on the best-selling book, The Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer by Robert D. Keppel and William J. Birnes, the adaptation is by Tom Towler and Peter Lance. Delia Fine serves as the executive producer for A&E Network and David Craig is the supervising producer. Hawk Koch (Primal Fear, Frequency, Hostage starring Bruce Willis) and Peter Lance (JAG, The Sentinel, Wiseguy) are the executive producers.

FOREVER BARBIE: THE RUTH HANDLER STORY -- The true story of the woman who created one of the most famous pop icons of all time: Barbie. Ruth Handler, the founder of the Mattel Toy Company, invented the Barbie Doll and, in doing so, changed the way the world views women. Named after her children Barbara and Ken, Handler's creation became one of the most successful products ever created and the object of derision by the feminist movement. Handler was later kicked out of the company she founded, following an accounting scandal and a battle with breast cancer. She then launched her own prosthetic breast company that later sold for over $1 million. FOREVER BARBIE: THE RUTH HANDLER STORY is based on the book by M.G. Lord. Delia Fine serves as the executive producer for A&E Network and David Craig is the supervising producer. The executive producers are City Entertainment, Josh Maurer (And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself, The Pentagon Papers, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge) and Alixandre Witlin. Also producing are Casey Bierer, Mark Geldman and Ron Yanover.

CHESSMATES (Working Title) -- The heartwarming and inspirational true story of a man in a midlife crisis who decides to change his own life, and in the process, changes for the better the lives of the inner-city kids he meets. English teacher David MacEnulty teaches a group of inner-city African American school kids how to play chess, and then takes them into the elitist world of chess competition. Initially, the principal and many of the parents oppose the idea, calling chess a useless white man's game. But MacEnulty's kids not only learn to compete, they ultimately triumph by beating private schools across the entire country. They learn that if they can win at chess, they can win at life. Delia Fine is the A&E Network executive producer and Emilio Nunez is the supervising producer. The script is by Jamal Joseph (Cross the Line) and Diane Nabatoff. Lisa Demberg and David Madden are the executive producers. CHESSMATES (Working Title) is an A&E Network(R)/Fox Television Studios co-production.

THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII -- Gladiators ... gorgeous young lovers ... orgies ... a truly evil villain ... AND the most famous volcano of all! In 79 AD, the luxurious and often corrupt Roman city of Pompeii was frozen for eternity when Mount Vesuvius erupted in a violent volcanic explosion. Based on the classic novel by Edward Bulwer Lytton, THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII is the story of man's insignificance against the forces of nature, as well as testimony for the heroic deeds of mankind. This film will capture the love story, murder mystery, stunning acts of betrayal, and physical courage against the exotic background of the Roman Empire in the 1st Century. With enhanced computer generated visual effects, the explosion of Vesuvius will be a cataclysmic event unlike anything TV audiences have seen before. The adaptation is by Benedict Fitzgerald (Moby Dick, In Cold Blood). Delia Fine serves as the executive producer for A&E Network. The producing team behind A&E's Benedict Arnold and The Magnificent Ambersons includes Norman Stephens (Bang, Bang You're Dead) and Jonas Bauer as producers and Guido de Angelis and Franz Landerer as executive producers. This is a co-production with The DeAngelis Group.

These original A&E Network movies join the previously announced 2004 projects: IKE: THUNDER IN JUNE, starring Tom Selleck as the remarkable General who oversaw D-Day; THE LAST KING, with Rufus Sewell (A KNIGHT'S TALE) as Charles II, the last monarch to truly rule England; SEE ARNOLD RUN, chronicling the unlikely campaign that turned an international action star into the Governor of California; HILLARY'S CHOICE, based on Gail Sheehy's blockbuster book about the controversial former First Lady and current U.S. Senator; and FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS: THE BETTE DAVIS STORY, a film about the life of one of Hollywood's most enduring stars.

A&E Network's Ground-Breaking New Series DEARLY DEPARTED (Working Title) Scheduled To Premiere In Spring Of 2004

Death has never been so lively. Coming to A&E Network this spring is DEARLY DEPARTED, a powerful new series that chronicles the intense and peculiar days and nights of a Southern California family mortuary.

Three beautiful sisters, their quick-tempered father, an exacting boss, an eccentric funeral director known as "Rainman," and an endless stream of corpses make up the core cast of this groundbreaking new reality show. DEARLY DEPARTED throws open the parlor door to the inner workings of a San Diego funeral home. The real story at Poway Bernardo Mortuary is how they compassionately console grieving families shattered by loss, as they love, love and fight as an extended family of their own.

The quirky staff at Poway Bernardo Mortuary is comprised of the dynamic, self-proclaimed drama queen middle sister Shonna Smith, Head Mortician, Senior Funeral Director and the one responsible for bringing the rest of the family into the business. When she's not arguing with her father, Shonna gets the job done, providing the glue that keeps the mortuary running. Shonna's younger sister Emily Vigney is the Office Manager and Funeral Director in training. Emily is so new to the staff that she still weeps at every funeral. Shonna and Emily's eldest sister Melissa Wissmiller drives the hearse, picks up the slack around the office and consoles families. She is also the family peacemaker. Melissa is engaged to Rick Sadler, the workaholic boss who was literally born in a funeral home. Also on staff is Clarence Chuck Wissmiller, the volatile body remover, boxing trainer, who also happens to be father to Shonna, Melissa, and Emily, and soon to be father-in-law to Rick. Apprentice Embalmer John Greeney is a newly adopted member of the Poway staff. John is described by Rick as a "sad sack" because he is perpetually broke and always juggling his family responsibilities with work. Finally there's David Maravee, the employee everyone else loves to hate, whose obsessive-compulsive behavior can rub clients the wrong way. David can often be found talking to himself about everything he has to do, which earned him the nickname "Rainman".

Nancy Dubuc and Robert Sharenow are the executive producers for A&E Network. DEARLY DEPARTED is produced for A&E Network by Hybrid Films. Daniel Elias is the director and executive producer. David Houts is Executive Producer.

A&E Network's Biography(R) Presents a First Quarter of World Premiere Specials

BIOGRAPHY: SIMON COWELL, Thursday, January 15, 8-9PM ET/PT

BIOGRAPHY: CYBILL SHEPHERD, Tuesday, January 27, 8-9pm ET/PT

BIOGRAPHY SPECIAL: THE FONDAS, Sunday, January 25. 8-10PM ET/PT

BIOGRAPHY SPECIAL: LOVE HOLLYWOOD STYLE, Sunday, Feb. 15, 8-10PM ET/PT

BIOGRAPHY SPECIAL: OSCAR(R), Thursday, February 26, 8-10pm ET

They're all here: Oscar's most memorable winners, Hollywood's most passionate lovers, plus Simon Cowell, and Henry and Bridget and Peter and Jane! A&E Network today announces a quarter of World Premieres from the Emmy(R) Award-winning series, BIOGRAPHY(R).

BIOGRAPHY: SIMON COWELL, Thursday, January 15, 8-9pm ET/PT
Now known worldwide as the cattiest of judges on the phenom TV series American Idol, Great Britain's Simon Cowell has become one of the most popular real-life characters in the medium. But who is he, and what has he done that gives him the confidence to rave -- or, more often, rip -- potential stars in the making? Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, and Ryan Seacrest are interviewed, along with Simon's mother, brothers and girlfriend.

BIOGRAPHY SPECIAL: THE FONDAS, Sunday, January 25, 8-10pm ET/PT
Among Hollywood's most elite acting dynasties, none has generated the respect, the accolades, or the controversy of the Fonda family. The multi-generational saga of its famous members -- Henry, Jane, Peter, and Bridget -- is a combination of American history, Hollywood legend, personal accomplishment and private tragedy. It is a story of unbreakable family bonds, tested by divisions that they share with families around the world. Rare home movies and photos, film clips from their most acclaimed performances, and exclusive interviews with the family, their friends and contemporaries -- including Robert Redford, Jon Voight, Lily Tomlin, Sydney Pollack and many more -- document a century in the lives of Hollywood royalty.

BIOGRAPHY: CYBILL SHEPHERD, Tuesday, January 27, 8-9pm ET/PT
Cybill Shepherd's been a lot of things during her long career: beauty queen, cover girl, movie star, television star, celebrity, singer, feminist and activist, to name a few. But as a woman in Hollywood who's not afraid to speak her mind, she's been nothing if not controversial. Co-stars have had little nice to say about her, while the tabloids have used her as a punching bag. Movie critics have called her a joke, stamping her career DOA on several occasions. But each time Hollywood has written her off, Cybill Shepherd rises from the dead. From "The Last Picture Show" to "Moonlighting" to "Cybill," Cybill Shepherd has made a career out of proving people wrong. A&E takes a look at this iconic star.

BIOGRAPHY SPECIAL: LOVE HOLLYWOOD STYLE, Sunday, Feb. 15, 8-10pm ET/PT
Nicole and Tom, Gable and Lombard, Hepburn and Tracy, Taylor and Burton, Mr. and Mrs. Rock Hudson ... These are just some of the Hollywood romances -- real or imagined - that we've heard about over the years. Some are flings, some lasted a lifetime. Will Ben and J-Lo's? How are the real love lives of stars different from the fantasy images Hollywood has created? LOVE HOLLYWOOD STYLE features interviews with celebrities, journalists, gossip columnists and other experts on affairs of the heart to show where fantasy and reality intersect -- and where they separate -- as we explore the history of real-life passion, Hollywood-style.

BIOGRAPHY SPECIAL: OSCAR(R), Thursday, February 26, 8-10pm ET
New interviews with Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, Mel Gibson and many others highlight this two-hour World Premiere BIOGRAPHY SPECIAL of Oscar(R). Produced in cooperation with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the program spans the sweeping history of the most important award in all of show business - from the birth and design of the statue itself to the great Oscar winners of the past - from the glitter of today's red carpet to behind the scenes of the most spectacular star-studded awards show of them all.

Also upcoming on BIOGRAPHY in the first half of 2004:

* BIOGRAPHY: HOWARD DEAN (presidential hopeful)

* BIOGRAPHY: CATWOMAN (featuring interview with Halle Berry)

* BIOGRAPHY: THE ROCK (premiere timed to his upcoming movie)

* BIOGRAPHY: PIERCE BROSNAN (premiere timed to his upcoming movie)

* BIOGRAPHY SPECIAL: OJ REUNION SHOW (on the tenth anniversary, A&E examines the players in the Simpson case)

A&E Announces Full Slate of Original Real-Life Series and Documentary Programming for 2004

Four New Primetime Series, Five New Primetime Specials and Three New Weekend Series in Production

Six New Primetime Series in Development

A&E Network is underway with an aggressive slate of new unscripted, real-life programs and documentaries in development and in various stages of production, it was announced today by Bob DeBitetto, Senior Vice President, Programming.

"A&E Network has long been a leader in creating genre programming. In 2004, we continue that trend by aggressively producing an unprecedented amount of new series and specials that will exemplify the excitement, intrigue, and drama viewers have come to love in our programming," said DeBitetto.

NEW SERIES IN PRODUCTION

DEARLY DEPARTED -- Three beautiful sisters, their quick-tempered father, a bizarre funeral director known as "Rainman," and an endless stream of corpses make up the core cast of this groundbreaking new reality show. DEARLY DEPARTED throws open the parlor door to the inner workings of a San Diego funeral home. The real story at Poway Bernardo Mortuary is not the death that passes through, but rather the family that works, lives, loves and fights there. DEARLY DEPARTED is scheduled to premiere in spring 2004. Nancy Dubuc and Robert Sharenow are the executive producers for A&E Network. DEARLY DEPARTED is produced for A&E Network by Hybrid Films.

THE FIRST 48 -- More like TV drama than a reality show, THE FIRST 48 follows real-life homicide investigators as they race against time to solve their cases. The hour-long program follows detectives of Philadelphia's homicide team as they track a breaking case -- each with a running 48-hour clock. A fast-paced, gritty program that will keep audiences guessing to the end. Nancy Dubuc is Executive Producer and Laura Fleury is Supervising Producer for A&E Network. THE FIRST 48 is produced for A&E Network by Granada Television.

FAMILY FORENSICS -- Have you ever wanted to look in someone's closets or medicine cabinet; poke your nose around and see what makes them tick? In FAMILY FORENSICS, a family vacates their home for two days, while a team of real forensic experts paints a portrait of them through what they find in their home. It's part archeology and part anthropology. The goal is to understand what this family is all about -- the secrets they keep (even from each other) and the life moments they are experiencing. What would be unearthed in your home? Full of drama, human conflict and humor, FAMILY FORENSICS merges two successful A&E(R) genres -- justice and non-fiction entertainment. Nancy Dubuc is Executive Producer and Patrice Andrews is Supervising Producer for A&E Network. FAMILY FORENSICS is produced for A&E Network by Fox Television Studios.

DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER (working title) -- Bounty Hunter Dwayne "Dog" Chapman and his life and business partner, Beth, are rare finds in documentary television -- they're characters that pop. DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER will feature the home and professional life of Dog as he juggles his bounty hunting case load, his volatile relationship with his Beth, and his 12 children (some of whom work in the family business). Dog served time in a Texas penitentiary for his participation in a murder 25 years ago. Upon his release, he vowed to redeem himself and found his calling on the right side of the law. As a bounty hunter, his past inspires him to help the fugitives he hunts down to go straight. Day after day, he and Beth are on an emotional and physical rollercoaster, chasing down fugitives and balancing their unusual family life. Nancy Dubuc is Executive Producer and Robert Sharenow is Supervising Producer for A&E Network. DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER is produced for A&E Network by Hybrid Films.

AMONG THOSE SERIES IN DEVELOPMENT ARE:

INTERVENTIONS -- An emotionally gripping documentary series in which people confront their darkest demons and, hopefully, find a route to redemption.

MR. JUSTICE -- When he's not hanging around with celebrity pals like Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis, Bill Stanton runs his own detective agency. MR. JUSTICE follows Stanton and his dedicated crew of investigators as they tackle real cases.

MINDHUNTER WITH JOHN DOUGLAS -- Delve into the criminal mind with original FBI Profiler -- John Douglas. Considered the 'father' of psychological profiling, Douglas has divulged the inner workings of many of America's most notorious minds -- from Charles Manson to David Berkowitz. MINDHUNTER will relive the cases that made Douglas famous... and the ones that still keep him up at night.

KAPTAIN KNIEVEL -- Whether he's jumping the fountains at Caesar's Palace or seventeen semis with no hands, Robbie Knievel is the personification of a real-life action figure. KAPTAIN KNIEVEL takes an unflinching look at the day-to-day life of the son of Evil Knievel.

LIQUIDATE YOUR LIFE -- Ever dream of getting away from the rat race? Of escaping the daily grind of your 9-5 job? This series will make people's dreams come true ... but at a price! In this series, participants are given the chance to finally explore the path less taken. Each family will experience what this new life will offer, what they can expect, where they will be, what they'll be doing. With their fantasy life within reach, they'll have to decide if they are really ready to give up their current existence ...

SPECIALS

THE OTHER MAN -- Coming to A&E Network in March is THE OTHER MAN, an exclusive hour-long documentary and interview with actor Michael Bergin, conducted by famed publisher Judith Regan. In Mr. Bergin's first time speaking to the media, A&E that takes an insider's look at the short and tragic romantic triangle of John F. Kennedy Jr., Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and Michael Bergin, based on the soon-to-be released book by Bergin, titled THE OTHER MAN. Nancy Dubuc is the executive producer for A&E Network. THE OTHER MAN is produced for A&E Network by Regan Media.

WASHINGTON WIVES -- These are the intriguing women behind the ambitious men who run the government -- powerful females like: Sally Quinn, the Washington society maven and wife of former Post editor Benjamin Bradlee. Shot at their fabulous East Hampton home where she is seen dropping names and talking about how she's seen power destroy people; DC veteran Hadassah Lieberman, wife of Senator and presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, interviewed on the campaign trail; and Elizabeth Edwards, wife of young Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards. Mrs. Edwards is full of hope, new to the game and not yet battered by the process of the primary. The special follows these women as they take viewers on a revealing journey inside the beltway. Nancy Dubuc is the executive producer for A&E Network. WASHINGTON WIVES is produced for A&E Network by Calamari Productions.

IN HARM'S WAY -- Two-time Academy Award(R) winner Barbara Kopple (Harlan County, USA; Wild Man Blues; The Hamptons) creates yet another powerful documentary, chronicling four female journalists who go into the line of fire during the war in Iraq and other perilous assignments: Janine di Giovanni, The Times of London, who recently moved from Amman, Jordan to Kuwait. From there she links up with the military and follows them on the road to Baghdad; Yola Monakhov, a freelance photojournalist who is documented first in Amman Jordan as she waits for her visa to Iran to be finalized; Ilana Ozernoy, also in Amman, Jordan, planning to collaborate with Yola; and Mary Rogers who is in northern Iraq, covering the story of the Kurds. Along the way, Kopple meets up with a number of other journalists, including CNN reporter Sheila MacVicar, Pulitzer Prize nominee Yunghi Kim, television reporter Ron Haviv, and photojournalists Alexandra Boulat and Corrine Dufka. Nancy Dubuc is the executive producer for A&E Network. IN HARM'S WAY is produced for A&E Network by Cabin Creek Films.

BOOMER NATION -- Where were you on November 22, 1963? This question is the setup for a documentary special that looks at baby boomers and how the lives of this generation have affected America. No generation in history has experienced as much freedom as boomers -- and with this freedom comes the ideals of individualism and self-fulfillment. We'll meet six boomers, and, through their triumphs and struggles, we'll see how their lives have been shaped. Each one coincides with an important political or social shift in the landscape of American culture. Guiding us through the special will be the tale of a soldier, a religious leader, a medical pioneer, a political activist, a television guru, and an advertising maven. Nancy Dubuc is the executive producer for A&E Network. BOOMER NATION is produced for A&E Network by New Wave Entertainment.

MONDO MAGIC WITH BENN & KORN -- With movie star looks and Houdini-esque chops, J.B. Benn and Chris Korn are two of the hottest magicians in the country -- they also happen to be good buddies. MONDO MAGIC is a new special chronicling their amazing adventures as they travel the globe performing their unique brand of street magic. Their travels will take them from Spain to Peru to Kenya. Along the way, they'll swap stories and tricks with other magicians, impress the locals with their magic, and penetrate mysterious cultures. Nancy Dubuc is Executive Producer and Robert Sharenow is Supervising Producer for A&E Network. MONDO MAGIC is produced for A&E Network by Popular Arts.

WEEKEND PROGRAMMING

FIND & DESIGN -- If you love decorating but don't want your house to turn into a Pottery Barn catalog or a Crate & Barrel showroom, then FIND & DESIGN is for you! Real people who have a decorating challenge must redo their space -- using only materials they've acquired from local garage sales and flea markets. Part treasure hunt, part decorating show, FIND & DESIGN will appeal to anyone who loves a challenge, a bargain and innovative decorating ideas. Hosted by Jennifer Convy, who also serves as the resident decorator. Nancy Dubuc is Executive Producer and Robert Sharenow is Supervising Producer for A&E Network. FIND & DESIGN is produced for A&E Network by 44 Blue. FIND & DESIGN joins A&E's successful weekend programming block which includes the series SELL THIS HOUSE and MAKEOVER MAMAS, as well as the recently announced INSIDE THIS OLD HOUSE, a new weekly half-hour magazine series that revisits classic moments from This Old House and updates them with new ideas, information, and techniques, and visits with your favorite homeowners and guest experts; and ASK THIS OLD HOUSE, traveling to backyards and back streets in towns and cities across America, answering the questions of perplexed homeowners everywhere. Both series are produced by This Old House Productions, Inc., and hosted by Kevin O'Connor.

A&E Network Presents a One Hour Documentary Special and Exclusive Interview With Actor Michael Bergin Based on His Upcoming Book

The Other Man

A Love Story

John F. Kennedy Jr., Carolyn Bessette & Me

An Insider's View Into the Love Triangle of John F. Kennedy Jr., Carolyn Bessette and Michael Bergin

A&E Network will present a one hour documentary special and exclusive interview with former Baywatch star and Calvin Klein model Michael Bergin, based on his upcoming book, The Other Man. Renowned publisher and talk show host Judith Regan will conduct the exclusive interview with Bergin. The book and the program will chronicle Bergin's long-term relationship with Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. The program will air in March 2004. The announcement was made today by Bob DeBitetto, Senior Vice President, Programming, A&E Network.

The Other Man is a first person account of Bergin's long term relationship with Bessette Kennedy and reveals previously unknown details about the extent of their relationship before and during her marriage to John F. Kennedy Jr. This book and interview marks the first time Bergin speaks publicly in great detail about Bessette Kennedy. The Other Man published by ReganBooks, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, is due to hit bookstores in late March.

Nancy Dubuc serves as executive producer for A&E Network. Rob Sharenow serves as supervising producer.

Rufus Sewell, Rupert Graves and Diana Rigg Star in the A&E Network(R) Original Movie

THE LAST KING

A Four-Hour North American Premiere Airing Sunday March 21 at 8PM/7C

When the dashing Charles II celebrated his 30th birthday by returning from exile and reclaiming his throne, no one knew he would be the final British monarch to wield such power over his countrymen. A&E Network presents the North American Premiere of the A&E/BBC co-production THE LAST KING, starring Rufus Sewell, Rupert Graves and Diana Rigg. The four-hour Original Movie airs Sunday, March 21, 2004 at 8pm/7C.

THE LAST KING is the sweeping story of King Charles II's most turbulent life -- his tumultuous rule, his squabbling family and his numerous romantic indiscretions. Set at the crossroads of British history, just as the monarchy was being swept away by democracy. Charles II was a sensual and romantic man -- one who loved the arts almost as much as he loved women, and a politician who was willing to do nearly anything to keep his power.

Rufus Sewell (A Knight's Tale, "Helen of Troy") stars as Charles II. Rupert Graves ("The Forsythe Saga," The Madness of King George) is the Duke of Buckingham, Charles' trusted friend; Diana Rigg (VICTORIA & ALBERT, "The Avengers") is Queen Henrietta Maria, the King's volatile mother; Martin Freeman ("Ali G Indahouse," "The Office", Love Actually) is Shaftesbury, Charles's political nemesis and former minister; Shirley Henderson (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Bridget Jones's Diary) is Queen Catherine; Christian Coulson (HORATIO HORNBLOWER, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) is the Duke of Monmouth, the eldest of Charles's illegitimate children; Charlie Creed Miles (Nil by Mouth) is Charles's brother James; Alice Patten is the demur Lady Francis Stewart, who manages to escape Charles's renowned sexual advances; Helen McCrory (The Count of Monte Cristo) is the aristocratic and promiscuous Barbara Villiers; Emma Pierson (Virtual Sexuality) is folk heroine and sex symbol Nell Gwynnel; and Melanie Thierry (The Legend of 1900) is the French spy Louise de Keroualle.

After nearly a decade in exile, Charles II is destitute, weary and virtually hopeless. Even the Duke of Buckingham, his oldest and dearest friend, abandons him to make peace with Oliver Cromwell, the military leader in control of Britain. Charles' hope is all but lost when Cromwell suddenly dies, and Cromwell's son takes his place.

But history takes a surprising turn when General George Monck persuades Parliament to invite Charles back into power. His triumphant ride into London on his 30th birthday is joined by another sweet conquest -- the long -- anticipated seduction of the alluring Barbara Villiers. With the witty and virile Charles siring illegitimate children all over the place, the need for a queen and a legitimate heir becomes paramount. Barbara is sufficiently confident not to feel threatened by the arrival of the future Queen, Catherine of Portugal, whose pious disposition at first is no match for the more worldly and cunning mistress.

Charles' reign is remembered as "Merry Olde England," but in truth, it was an extremely turbulent time politically, including a disastrous war with Holland. During his 25-year rule, England experienced virulent anti- Catholicism, and yet Charles himself secretly converted on his deathbed. The King was in fact a raucous gambler, a libidinous womanizer, the unapologetic father of at least seven illegitimate children, an impassioned lover of the arts, a ruthless political survivor, and the monarch who ultimately ushered in a true and lasting democracy -- whether he favored it or not!

Delia Fine serves as the executive producer for A&E Network(R) on THE LAST KING. It is directed by Joe Wright (Nature Boy) and produced by Kate Harwood (THE LOST WORLD). The teleplay is by Adrian Hodges (THE LOST WORLD, LORNA DOONE, "David Copperfield") and Laura Mackie is the executive producer for the BBC.

Did Tom Quinn Drown? Is Harry Pearce Dead? Can the MI-5 Team Survive?

The Return of A&E Network's Hot Spy Series 'MI-5' Starring Matthew Macfadyen, Keeley Hawes, David Oyelowo and Peter Firth

Principal Photography on the Third Season Begins January 2004

New Season Slated to Air on the A&E Network Late 2004

The life-and-death answers to Season Two's exhilarating cliffhanger will be revealed in Season Three of A&E Network's highly acclaimed spy series MI-5. Did Tom Quinn drown? Before he went into the ocean, did Tom kill his boss Harry Pearce? And, if he is alive, is Tom still on our side? The MI-5 team returns with a third season of high-tech exploits and top-secret subterfuge, it was announced today by Bob DeBitetto, Senior Vice President, Programming, A&E Network.

Ten new one-hour episodes start filming in the UK in January through July 2004 and will premiere in the U.S. on the A&E Network in late 2004.

Representing the first line of defense against terrorism in the free world, MI-5 agents place their lives on the line every day -- week in, week out. To deal with an increasingly complex and dangerous global situation, the agency employs only the brightest and most cunning young operatives, men and women who can execute highly technical manoeuvres, utilizing the latest in modern spy technology. But, in the course of working together, these highly motivated individuals do occasionally bump into each other in the heat of the night. The interpersonal relationships of such highly private people often lead to delicate complications -- but they never forget the perilous assignments they have been hired to carry out.

Returning cast and central characters include: Tom Quinn, the astute young agent whose future is in serious doubt, played by Matthew Macfadyen ("The Reckoning," "Warriors"); the relentlessly clever Zoe Reynolds, played by Keeley Hawes ("Tipping the Velvet," "Othello", "The Caterstreet Hangman"); Danny Hunter, still ambitious and still on the make, played by David Oyelowo ("A Sound of Thunder"); demanding boss Harry Pearce, played by Academy Award-nominee Peter Firth ("Amistad," "Hunt For Red October"), who's been shot by his top agent Tom; Christine Dale from the CIA, played by Megan Dodds ("Ever After," "Love in a Cold Climate"); and intelligence analyst Ruth Evershed, played by Nicola Walker ("Touching Evil," "Four Weddings and a Funeral").

New to the cast is Adam Carter, a former MI-6 operative, played by Rupert Penry-Jones ("The Four Feathers", "Charlotte Gray") who joins forces with MI-5 to thwart international and domestic terrorism.

MI-5 is a Kudos Production for BBC ONE in association with the A&E Network. Delia Fine is the executive producer for A&E Network, Jane Featherstone and Simon Crawford Collins are the executive producers for Kudos, and Gareth Neame is the executive producer for the BBC. David Wolstencroft is the series' creator and Andrew Woodhead is the producer.

Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award Winner Tom Selleck Stars as General Dwight D. Eisenhower in A&E Network's World Premiere Original Two-Hour Movie 'IKE: THUNDER IN JUNE'

Shooting in New Zealand Begins in February

Slated to Air Spring 2004

Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning actor Tom Selleck stars as General Dwight D. Eisenhower in the A&E Network original movie IKE: THUNDER IN JUNE. Shooting will commence in February, 2004 in New Zealand, and the movie will make its World Premiere in Spring 2004, just prior to the 60th anniversary of D-Day (June 6). Robert Harmon (THE CROSSING) will direct based on a script by Lionel Chetwynd. IKE: THUNDER IN JUNE is an A&E Television Networks Production/Lionel Chetwynd Productions/Stephanie Germain Productions in association with Sony Pictures Television.

IKE: THUNDER IN JUNE depicts the tense 90 days leading up to the D-Day invasion and how Dwight Eisenhower, against all odds, brilliantly orchestrated the most important military maneuver in modern history. The film opens in March of 1944, three months prior to D-Day, as General Eisenhower, recently appointed Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, consults with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. As D-Day draws closer, it becomes evident that Eisenhower's power is his greatest burden -- and yet, it is also his undeniable destiny.

Educated at West Point, Ike's uncanny leadership abilities are exemplified throughout the film as he prepares to send legions of young soldiers to take on Hitler's forces, while balancing the powers and tremendous egos of his peers. Beloved and idolized by his soldiers, Eisenhower had much more complex relationships with his fellow leaders, including the imperious American General George S. Patton; the rigid British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, who was in charge of the British and Canadian D-Day forces; and the notoriously difficult French President Charles DeGaulle, a man Ike came to greatly admire.

The historical significance of D-Day can hardly be overstated, nor can the ambition of the undertaking. The ferocious encounter was an extraordinarily perilous undertaking, one that would either portend the final defeat of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Forces ... or perhaps, just the opposite. The German troops were powerful and well-trained, and Hitler had created a 3,000 mile "Atlantic Wall," designed to be impenetrable. Along the North of France, the massive steel and concrete structure was designed to protect the Nazi positions, while a massive German counterattack would force the Allied Forces back to the sea. Meanwhile, the beaches themselves were fortified by steel piles, mines and barbed wire.

In D-Day, General Eisenhower oversaw the largest military operation of the war. More than 150,000 soldiers, 5,000 ships and 11,000 airplanes were deployed. On June 6, 1944, carrying as much as 80 pounds of equipment, servicemen departed their ships to head into the water and then attempt to safely travail 200 yards of beach. 4,500 of them died, including 2,500 from the United States.

Television and film star Tom Selleck was born in Detroit, Michigan. A talented collegiate athlete, he hit the big time on the small screen in the 1980s, following a decade of performances in films and on television. Selleck won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Thomas Magnum, the laid back private investigator in CBS's Magnum, PI (1980-88). Other television credits include "Monte Walsh," "The Crossfire Trail," and "Last Stand at Saber Ridge." His feature films include Three Men and a Baby (1987), In and Out (1997), and The Love Letter (1999).

Emmy Award-winner, Delia Fine, serves as the Executive Producer for A&E Network on IKE: THUNDER IN JUNE. Stephanie Germain ("The Pilot's Wife," "The Princess and the Marine") is executive producer and Academy Award-nominee Lionel Chetwynd (P.T. BARNUM, "DC 9/11: Time of Crisis") serves as both executive producer and writer. IKE: THUNDER IN JUNE is an A&E Television Networks Production/Lionel Chetwynd Productions/Stephanie Germain Productions in association with Sony Pictures Television.

A&E Network Announces New Prime Time Series HOUSE OF DREAMS

Sixteen Individuals Compete for the Key to the American Dream

With Host George Wendt

Premiered January 5, 9-10 PM ET/PT

In the great American tradition of the communal barn-raising and homesteading, HOUSE OF DREAMS a new A&E Network prime time reality series, brings together a community of sixteen individuals who will combine forces to plan, design, build, decorate a dream home. Catch is, only one will end up owning it. HOUSE OF DREAMS premiered Monday, January 5, 9-10pm ET/PT. George Wendt, best known to television audiences as Norm Peterson from Cheers, a role earned Wendt six Emmy(R) nominations, hosts HOUSE OF DREAMS.

This is a less a story about the home, and more a tale of the people who have come together to build it. Among the cast, a microcosm of today's America: A Harvard/Yale grad turned professional juggler; a currently homeless/once chart-topping record producer; a lawyer; a single mom; a divorcee; a finance man turned teacher for high risk kids who wants to win the house for one of his students; a retired schoolteacher; a grandpa who nursed his sick wife for 25 years then discovered new love upon her death - with a man; a policeman; a waiter - ranging in age from 26 to 67. Each one with his/her unique motivation, the Dream Builders have set aside their regular lives for two months to vie for a new home built with their own hands. They will not only be working together, but will set up camp together -- a small tent village in the pristine woods of Osceola County, near Orlando, Florida, secluded and far away from the comforts of home. The house itself will reside in Harmony, Florida, near Orlando.

The challenge before the "Dream Builders" is great: hard work and hard living. The pay-off, even greater: pride, accomplishment, and the keys to a new life. Week by week, the field of builders will be narrowed. The question will be answered: Who will become the owner of the house they have all worked so hard to build?

Chicago native George Wendt is best known for his portrayal of Norm Peterson, the beer-loving resident wiseacre at Sam Malone's Boston bar, in the legendary TV series Cheers. Prior to his television fame, Wendt was a member of the legendary comedy troupe Second City. In addition to numerous guest appearances on Saturday Night Live and other television series, Wendt has appeared in a number of feature films, including Fletch, Gung Ho, Spice World, and Outside Providence.

Once Wendt heard the backstories of the "Dream Builders", he was immediately drawn into the drama. HOUSE OF DREAMS is populated by an unusual cast of characters that are anything but your typical reality TV stereotypes. While George had never considered himself to be a fan of reality TV before, the Dream Builders' intelligence, humor, and unique stories won him over immediately.

An avid football fan and political junkie, George anticipated that the high-stakes drama of the Dream Builders' real-life individual struggles would bring out more strategizing, deal-making and maneuvering than any Super Bowl and Primary Season combined.

HOUSE OF DREAMS is sponsored by LendingTree. The A&E Executive Producer is Nancy Dubuc and the A&E Supervising Producer is Rob Sharenow. The series was developed by Granada USA NY for A&E Network. Executive Producer for Granada is Charles Tremayne.

A&E Network Takes to the Skies With Its New Documentary Series AIRLINE

Series Showcases the Thrills and Spills of Life Behind the Scenes of America's Fourth Largest Airline, Southwest

Premiered January 5, 10-11pm ET/PT

Buckle your seatbelts -- it just might be a bumpy flight. A&E Network flies high with an all-new real-life adventure series -- a behind the scenes look at the tension and drama surrounding commercial airline travel. A&E Network is currently in production with Granada on eighteen half-hour episodes of AIRLINE, which premiered Monday, January 5th 10-11pm ET/PT it was announced today by Robert DeBitetto, Senior Vice President, Programming, A&E Network.

AIRLINE is based on the hit U.K. show of the same name which has consistently pulled in strong ratings during its six-year run on Britain's ITV Network.

The A&E Network series focuses on Southwest Airlines, America's fourth largest carrier, which came up with the concept of low cost, no frills travel. The company, which has been in business for 32 years, carries 65 million passengers every year and, in an industry struggling to cope post 9/11, is still making a profit.

Los Angeles International (LAX) is just one of the airports that is featured prominently in AIRLINE. Southwest operates 120 flights a day out of LAX, each carrying an average of 130 passengers -- a combination that is sure to provide plenty of trials and tribulations.

AIRLINE focuses on the highs and lows of passengers who hop on board Southwest flights bound for destinations across the U.S. The program also follows the airline's staff and crew, from the high flying pilots through to the long suffering check in staff and supervisors who are often on the receiving end of angry customers' wrath.

"We're thrilled to have this unprecedented partnership with Southwest Airlines. The many flights of Southwest Airlines offer the perfect vehicle for a multitude of compelling stories. The pilots, flight attendants, airport employees and others interact every day with hurried executives, crying children, weary travellers and heightened security," said DeBitetto. "It's a crazy way of life, and one that is extraordinarily interesting to watch."

"We're delighted to be working with A&E and Southwest Airlines to make AIRLINE in the US. We're particularly pleased that we've been able to draw on a production team made up of both British and American talent to make the series," says Joe Houlihan, Co-Executive Producer, Granada. "AIRLINE has been a phenomenally successful series for ITV and we're sure American viewers will find the thrills and spills of life behind the scenes of this huge airline fascinating."

"This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to showcase the customer service passion and vision of our Southwest employees as they serve our valued customers," said Colleen Barrett, Southwest Airlines' President and COO.

"This is an exciting project that we believe will give an added dimension to our already strong brand in the airline industry."

AIRLINE is produced by Granada for A&E Network. Nancy Dubuc is the executive producer for A&E Network. Joe Houlihan and Charles Tremayne are co-executive producers for Granada. Chris Carey is the producer.

Granada USA New York and Granada Entertainment USA are the US based production divisions of Granada plc. In the last 12 months, Granada has been responsible for an estimated 125 hours of drama, 35 hours of factual, 20 hours of entertainment and six-and-a-half hours of children's programming on U.S. screens.

Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) is the nation's fourth largest carrier with nearly 2,800 daily departures to cities in 30 states. The airline operates a fleet of more than 380 Boeing 737s. The airline's 35,000+ Employees provide Legendary Customer Service to travelers in 58 cities across the United States.





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· AIRLINE (A AND E)
· AMERICAN IDOL (FOX)
· AND STARRING PANCHO VILLA AS HIMSELF (HBO)
· BANG, BANG, YOU'RE DEAD (SHOWTIME)
· BENEDICT ARNOLD: A QUESTION OF HONOR (A AND E)
· BROOKE ELLISON STORY, THE (A AND E)
· CROSSFIRE TRAIL (TNT)
· DC 9/11: TIME OF CRISIS (SHOWTIME)
· DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER (A AND E)
· FAMILY FORENSICS (A AND E)
· FAMILY PLOTS (A AND E)
· FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS: THE BETTE DAVIS STORY (A AND E)
· FIRST 48, THE (A AND E)
· FOREVER BARBIE: THE RUTH HANDLER STORY (A AND E)
· HELEN OF TROY (USA)
· HILLARY'S CHOICE (A AND E)
· HORATIO HORNBLOWER: DUTY (A AND E)
· HORATIO HORNBLOWER: LOYALTY (A AND E)
· HORATIO HORNBLOWER: MUTINY (A AND E)
· HOUSE OF DREAMS (A AND E)
· IKE: COUNTDOWN TO D-DAY (A AND E)
· INTERVENTION (LMN)
· KNIEVEL'S WILD RIDE (A AND E)
· KNIGHTS OF THE SOUTH BRONX (A AND E)
· LAST DAYS OF POMPEII, THE (A AND E)
· LAST KING, THE (A AND E)
· LAST KING, THE (A AND E)
· LIQUIDATE YOUR LIFE (CNBC)
· LOST WORLD, THE (A AND E)
· MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, THE (A AND E)
· MI-5 (BBC AMERICA)
· MINDHUNTER WITH JOHN DOUGLAS (A AND E)
· MONDO MAGIC (A AND E)
· MONTE WALSH (TNT)
· MR. JUSTICE (A AND E)
· PENTAGON PAPERS, THE (FX)
· PILOT'S WIFE, THE (CBS)
· PRINCESS AND THE MARINE, THE (NBC)
· RIVERMAN, THE (A AND E)
· SEE ARNOLD RUN (A AND E)
· VICTORIA & ALBERT (A AND E)











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