Abc's Big Beatles Project Will Be Even Bigger: 6 Hours Over 3 Nights

Posted: July 22, 1995

PASADENA, Calif. — The mega-documentary about the Beatles just got a little more mega.

ABC, which previously announced plans to air a five-hour program over two nights in November, now says the program will span three nights and occupy six hours of air time. ABC Entertainment President Ted Harbert said the decision to expand the running time was based primarily on screenings of a rough cut, which proved even more compelling than he expected.

The program, The Beatles Anthology, is being produced by Apple Productions Ltd., which is owned by Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and the estate of John Lennon, administered by Yoko Ono. It tells the story of rock's most celebrated group from the perspective of the Beatles themselves, relying in part on previously private material.

Among the highlights of the program will be the premiere of new songs created by combining the contributions of McCartney, Harrison and Starr with solo recordings Lennon made before he was killed in New York in 1980.

RUDY AND GOGO. For Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans, this might resemble something on the order of Bugs Bunny Meets Howdy-Doody. It's called The Rudy and GoGo World Famous Cartoon Show, and Turner Network Televison expects to have it fine-tuned by next Saturday.

TNT has turned over two hours each Saturday beginning at 5 p.m. to Rudy, his rowdy 8-year-old male marionette J.B. and a mostly mute pygmy nanny goat, GoGo. These hosts introduce vintage cartoons and react to the story lines with off-the-wall, quick-witted segments. They also occasionally interrupt the action to provide their own commentary, as is the norm on Comedy Central's MST3K.

"I hope to bring something new, even though it might be old," said senior writer-producer Barry Mills, who provides the voice of Rudy.

TNT expects Rudy and GoGo to appeal to children and adults. The show got off the ground July 8 with a few quick gags - including several shots of GoGo running across the screen. Strange, but funny.

"We're kind of experimenting with the interruption stuff" during cartoons, Mills said. "You can't mess with the Warner Bros. cartoons as much as the other cartoons. (Rudy and GoGo's roles) will increase little by little. We'll be up to speed in about the fourth week."

Rudy's cartoon-loving marionette pal J.B. is voiced by Space Ghost production assistant Gus Jordan, and also will get into the hooting and hollering from the town of Tater Hole.

CARVEY'S CAMPAIGN. Johnny Carson, Ross Perot and former President George Bush all will appear on a new weekly sketch comedy show premiering this winter on ABC.

And they'll be in the person of Dana Carvey - whose impressions of Perot, Bush and Carson and numerous other original characters made him a star on Saturday Night Live.

ABC Entertainment President Ted Harbert said the series would include Carvey's stable of established characters and impressions, as well as new ones, and would take advantage of the looming presidential campaign.

The executive producers are Carvey and Robert Smigel, a former writer, producer and occasional performer for SNL and Late Night With Conan O'Brien.

Carvey's new deal was made through Brillstein-Grey, the company that manages Carvey and that recently formed a lucrative joint-production venture with ABC.

Harbert said he believed Brillstein-Grey had had discussions with NBC about the legal rights to characters Carvey created at SNL.

"I believe that ABC will have access to the Dana Carvey characters that have made him as popular as he is," Harbert said. He said that the Church Lady would be available for ABC. Impressions of political figures should be fair game, although NBC might be able to assert a claim on the specific appearance of those figures as created by the SNL makeup staff.

SHORT STUFF. ABC is working with Roseanne to minimize any disruptions to her prime-time series as a result of her pregnancy and the eventual birth of her baby. Production started earlier than usual this summer to stockpile episodes so there will be a fresh supply while she is on maternity leave. ABC entertainment boss Harbert want to avoid episodes that have the big star in only one brief scene or literally calling it in by telephone. When ABC tried that last season, "The ratings almost immediately reflected her absence from the show," Harbert said. . . . Lea Thompson, star of NBC's new Caroline in the City, moved from her native Minnesota to Philadelphia at 17 to become an apprentice with the Pennsylvania Ballet. Not getting hired after three years ''was a great thing," she says. "I went to New York and became an actress."

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