Published: January 17, 2003
BURBANK, Calif. — January 17, 2003 — NBC will match quality with big numbers in upcoming spring programming as the network looks forward to the 300th episode of Law & Order, the 200th episode of ER, the episodic TV series debut of superstar Madonna on Will & Grace, Martha Inc.: The Martha Stewart Story (working title) — a biographical movie starring Cybill Shepherd (Cybill), a tribute to legendary Bob Hopes 100th birthday, the series premiere of Lets Make a Deal on March 1 and the return of Watching Ellie in April. The announcement was made by Jeff Zucker, President, NBC Entertainment.
Spring and particularly May will be truly special with the landmark episodes of two of TVs favorite drama series in ER and Law & Order, said Zucker. Were also thrilled that announce that Cybill Shepherd will be our Martha Stewart and look forward to the revival of Lets Make a Deal, the return of Watching Ellie and many specials, including one honoring the centenary of Americas favorite all-time entertainer in Bob Hope.
In addition, NBC will offer The Funniest Women of Comedy special in March.
The noteworthy episodes of both ER and Law & Order have not been filmed and details will be provided later before the airdates in May.
The legendary Madonna will appear in an episode of Will & Grace in May (see separate release).
Martha Inc.: The Martha Stewart Story (working title) movie is based on the best-selling book by Christopher Byron. The two-hour project is a hard-hitting look at the life and career of Martha Stewart, who ruthlessly fought her way from her humble beginnings in working class New Jersey to become America’s richest — and most controversial — self-made businesswoman. Jason Ensler (Behind the Camera: The Unofficial Story of Threes Company) directs from a teleplay by Suzette Couture (Million Dollar Babies, Jesus). Michael Jaffe and Howard Braunstein (both for Gilda Radner: Its Always Something and The Rosa Parks Story) are executive producers of the Jaffe/Braunstein Films, Ltd. production.
Shepherds career took off with her role in the feature film The Last Picture Show, and she quickly became a star with subsequent roles in the films The Heartbreak Kid, Taxi Driver and The Lady Vanishes. She starred in such series as Cybill, Moonlighting and The Yellow Rose of Texas. Her extensive television movie credits include Journey of the Heart, While Justice Sleeps, Baby Brokers, Stormy Weathers, Memphis, Which Way Home, Secrets of a Married Man and The Long Hot Summer.
NBC will premiere its updated game show Lets Make a Deal (see separate release) for five consecutive Saturdays beginning Saturday, March 1 (8-9 p.m. ET). Access Hollywoods Billy Bush is the host of the new hour-long revival series.
In April, the network will air Behind the Camera: The Unofficial Story of Threes Company, a television movie event featuring original cast member Joyce DeWitt — who portrayed Janet Wood on Threes Company and now shares her observations on the unfunny side of comedic success on network television.
The 100th birthday of Hope will be marked (as was Hopes 90th birthday) with this two-hour event for May that features various celebrity interviews, clips and outtakes encompassing Hope’s amazing range of films, NBC Specials and Christmas shows, public service announcements and commercials — as well as his unforgettable USO tours entertaining the troops overseas. The multi-faceted entertainers staggering career has long had a distinct NBC connection that helped shape the networks future.
In March, Emmy Award-winning actress Megan Mullally (NBC’s “Will & Grace”) hosts the Museum of Television & Radio’s tribute to the greatest comediennes in television history. The 90-minute special continues the museum’s long tradition of honoring television’s seminal programs and performers by focusing on the hilarious, provocative and brilliant women who have dominated television comedy for the last half-century. Mary Tyler Moore, Bea Arthur, Carol Burnett and Penny Marshall are among those interviewed about their trail-blazing careers in television.
Watching Ellie details the life of a Los Angeles club singer Eleanor Riggs (Emmy Award winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a single woman living in L.A. who confronts all manner of annoyances, including her much-too-pretty married younger sister (Lauren Bowles, Ghost World), superintendent Ingvar (Peter Stormare, Chocolat, Fargo), and ex-boyfriend Edgar (Steve Carell, The Daily Show). Meanwhile, Ellie is trying to figure out just where she stands with her current beau (Darren Boyd, BBCs Smack the Pony), a guitarist in her band. Don Lake (Best in Show) also stars as Ellies veterinarian neighbor, Dr. Zimmerman.
Watching Ellie is produced by NBC Studios and Radford Productions, LLC. Brad Hall (Brooklyn Bridge) is the creator and executive producer.
Kathy Kelly-Brown, NBC Primetime Series Publicity, 818/840-4512
Jennifer Skorlich, NBC Alternative Series & Specials Publicity, 818/840-4630