While Peter, Hodding and Jane Pray, Farrah Rides Again
In A.D. 73, after heroically holding off overwhelming Roman legions for months, some 900 Jews, trapped in a cliff-top fortress called Masada, killed themselves rather than surrender. "Still, it was easier for the Romans to take Masada than it was for Universal to make it," cracks Peter Strauss, 33, who stars with Peter O'Toole (right) in the $25 million, eight-hour ABC epic. Temperatures reached 130° on the Judean desert location and, says Strauss: "No one could endure all that agony and come back with a bomb." Masada reportedly is a Shōgan-like blockbuster but, just in case, Peter has a couple of other things going: A Whale for the Killing, a TV drama he co-produced, and a second marriage, to New York model Shana Hoffman, 24. Meanwhile Strauss is converting sophisticated Shana to his rural California life. "It's terrific," he exults, "to have a woman in your life who feeds the chickens while wearing one of your shirts, black underwear and stiletto heels."
"I don't have any particular fears about TV beyond the logical ones," says Hodding Carter III, "and those are, 'How big an egg am I going to lay, and how fast?' " Still, Carter, 45, seems almost overqualified to anchor Inside Story, an irreverent weekly critique of the press that debuts—PBS finances willing—by fall. He has blinked back at the media glare from both sides, apprenticing at and eventually editing his Mississippi family's courageous daily, the Delta Democrat-Times. Then Carter was State Department spokesman from 1977 until he resigned after the failed Iranian hostage rescue attempt. Any predisposition? "At State, I used to give a speech asking how good a job the press does, and the answer was 'Not very,' " recalls Carter. "Thing was, I gave that same speech when I was a reporter."
To change her luck, Farrah Fawcett, 33, returned to her TV roots and native state for NBC's four-hour miniseries Murder in Texas. She stars as real-life Houston socialite Joan Robinson Hill, whose mysterious 1969 death led to a celebrated tangle of revenge. But before Farrah even got home, her producer, Dick Clark, was sued—unsuccessfully—for copyright infringement by David Merrick, who plans to film author Thomas Thompson's best-selling account of the case, Blood and Money. "It's a disgraceful ripoff and totally reprehensible," fumed author Thompson. But even if she is riding the wrong horse for her comeback, Farrah is not without support. A frequent visitor to the set was her Malibu Stallion, Ryan O'Neal.
The 1955 movie East of Eden made a star of a moody kid named James Dean. ABC's upcoming eight-hour remake may finally do the same for lovely British actress Jane Seymour, 29. It almost happened seven years ago with Roger Moore in Live and Let Die but, as she admits: "James Bond movies are never very demanding—except that you have to live them down the rest of your life." Seymour also got sidetracked in Seventh Avenue, Battlestar Galactica and Oh Heavenly Dog. Now on the upgrade, she was cast as Mozart's wife in the U.S. staging of the London hit Amadeus. As for the Steinbeck classic, Jane notes gleefully, "I play Kate, probably one of the most evil women ever written." To Sam Bottoms goes the challenge of playing James Dean.
On Newsstands Now
- Amy Robach: 'I'm Lucky to Be Alive'
- Paul Walker: Inside His Tragic Death
- Julia Roberts: Choosing Family Over Hollywood
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine