Hail, Twiggy...Farewell, Michael

updated 09/02/1991 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/02/1991 01:00AM

Since her days as a '60s modeling sensation, Twiggy has picked up a few years (she's 41), a last name, via marriage (it's Lawson), and a CBS comedy series, Princesses. Twiggy plays the widow of a minor European prince, sharing a Manhattan penthouse with mismatched roommates Julie (Airplane!) Hagerty (center) and Fran (Cadillac Man) Drescher. "It's fun, intelligent and has a fairy-tale quality," says Hagerty.

He's been Elsewhere and elsewhere, on TV and in films. Now, on NBC's drama Reasonable Doubts, Mark Harmon plays a streetwise cop whose father was a stubborn deaf man. Naturally, he's paired with an assistant DA who is (a) deaf and (b) stubborn. She's portrayed by Oscar-winning Marlee (Children of a Lesser God) Matlin. Will sparks fly? Indubitably! But will these two, er, mate? Producers say there are reasonable doubts.

On TV, Tim Taylor, the macho host of a home-repair show, tosses off male-bonding lines that would make Robert Bly blush. At home, Taylor (stand-up comic Tim Allen) is a bumbling Bumstead who is all thumbs. That's the premise of the highly touted ABC series Home Improvement. Patricia Richardson plays his wife.

In CBS's sitcom The Royal Family, Redd Foxx and Della Reese are Alexander and Victoria Royal, a retired but not retiring couple, named after Foxx's own aunt and uncle. "It might be lucky for me," he says. There's precedent: Foxx's brother is Fred G. Sanford.

Call it 1940something. Harking hack to The Best Years of Our Lives, ABC's Homefront, created by David (Dallas, Knots Landing) Jacobs, follows several families in the days after World War II. David Newsome plays one of the returning GIs.

Three's company, hut what's eight? Try an updated Brady Bunch. Suzanne Somers (third from right) is a meticulous widow with three children; Patrick (Dallas) Duffy (left) is a divorced slob with three of his own. Inevitably, on ABC's new sitcom Step by Step, they get married. "We have this incredibly romantic, animal attraction," says Somers, "so when it gets overwhelming, we shut the door and jump on each other." Whew!

Elliott Gould as the incredible shrinking man? In HBO's Sessions, a six-part comedy series cowritten by Billy (City Slickers) Crystal, Gould (far right) plays Dr. Bookman, a psychiatrist, and Michael (This Is Spinal Tap) McKean is Dan Carver, one of his patients. McKean says his character is going through a midlife crisis, characterized by "emotions out of context—not to mention phantom tensions and other-voices-in-other-rooms feelings." Hmmm...how do you feel about that?

"She has that Jackie quality—those eyes and the way she holds her head," says executive producer Lester Persky of Roma Downey, the One Life to Live player he cast in the title role of A Woman Named Jackie (NBC, Oct. 13—15). The miniseries, based on C. David Heymann's best-seller, also stars Stephen Collins as John F. Kennedy and Brian Smiar (below) as LBJ.

After 18 years in prison, a man wrongfully accused of murder (Michael Landon) is freed. He goes home to try to make a life with his alcoholic father, played by Barney (Murder, She Wrote) Martin, and the teenage son he has never seen (Casey Peterson). Us (CBS, Sept. 20) was the pilot for a fall series. But Landon (center) who also wrote, produced and directed it, died in July. "There was a simplicity and a greatness to him," says Martin. "He was a gracious, unselfish, giving man." The two-hour drama is London's last TV appearance. (NBC will present a prime-time tribute to the late star on Sept. 17.)

They all laughed at Christopher Columbus (left). That was before PBS got on board with Columbus and the Age of Discovery, a seven-hour documentary series (Oct. 6-9) charting the celebrated mariner's voyage to the New World 500 years ago.

Full-scale models of the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria (far left) add to the air of authenticity. PBS hopes the explorer's saga will find the same success that Ken Burns's magisterial, The Civil War did last year.

The ink isn't even dry on the headlines, and here is CBS this month with the two-hour Murder in New Hampshire, based on the murder trial of high school adviser Pamela Smart, 23. She was convicted in March of plotting with Billy Flynn, her 15-year-old student lover, to murder her husband. Chad (Our House) Allen (left) plays Flynn. Helen Hunt is his Smart bombshell. "Those boys were no different from you and me," says Allen. "Billy just got seduced."

It's still not time to walk away. Kenny Rogers (with Reba McEntire as a madam) is back again, this time for a fourth TV spinoff of his hit song "The Gambler": a four-hour miniseries in November, The Luck of the Draw: The Gambler Returns, on NBC. Vintage Western stars Chuck (The Rifleman) Connors, Doug (The Virginian) McClure and Gene (Bat Masterson) Barry make guest appearances, and David Carradine even shows up in his old Kung-Fu role.

Meet Edna Everage, whose interview special, Dame Edna's Hollywood, airs on NBC in the fall. Edna (Australian Barry Humphries) is huge Down Under and in England. Her interviewing style? "Imagine," she says, "a Caucasian female Arsenio Hall." Woof, woof?

The summer's hottest TV questions: Who fathered Murphy Brown's child—Jerry Gold (Jay Thomas, right) or Jake Lowenstein (Robin Thomas, left)? And will Murph (Candice Bergen) have the baby? FYI: All will be played out in the Sept. 16 season premiere.

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