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HOMEFRONT IS BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND
ERIC KOHANIK, HAMILTON SPECTATOR
win fight but can they keep the momentum going?
There's always a feeling among television viewers that their collective voice somehow doesn't count in the grand scheme of U.S. network programming decisions. How-ever, that certainly isn't always the case.
Burlington, Ont., residents June and Jack Holden were among those who found that out recently. The Holdens were among readers who caught a Spectator article in January that bemoaned the departure of Homefront, the classy ABC nostalgia drama that disappeared from the air in December. The column also urged readers to lend their support to the show by writing to ABC. And so, the Holdens were inspired to do just that.
To their surprise, they even got a response from the American network last month.
Oh sure, it was a form-letter postcard, but that didn't matter. The Holdens were impressed enough by the correspondence to pass it on to me.
"I was delighted when it came," says Mrs. Holden. "I hope it bodes well for the show."
It does, indeed. ABC is bringing back Homefront tomorrow night.
As surprising as it may seem, those big U.S. networks do, indeed, listen to viewers who write. Even when those viewers are Canadians.
In fact, television has had a history of networks responding to viewers who lobby to bring a series back to the air. Perhaps the most successful example of such an effort was Cagney & Lacey back in the early 1980s. And this season has sparked several letter-writing campaigns. (We're still awaiting word on the fate of NBC's I'll Fly Away.)
Of course, Homefront hasn't had an easy ride. The series barely escaped the programmer's axe last season. And when it did return in the fall, it was constantly pre-empted by specials and holidays. It also faced intense competition from Cheers on Thursday nights.
According to ABC, Homefront will have a run of seven uninterrupted weekly episodes in the Tuesday timeslot vacated by Civil Wars. Two additional Homefront episodes have been completed, but the fate of those will depend on how well the series does.
And that's where Phase 2 of the movement to save Homefront comes in. Getting the show back on the air is one thing. Keeping it on the air is quite another matter. That will rely on viewers watching the show, and encouraging others to watch it, too.
Set just after the Second World War, Homefront revolves around a handful of families who live in a small city near Cleveland, Ohio. The characters have charm, wit and warmth. And the series' structural formula - 1940s nostalgia laced with 1990s sensibilities - creates an engrossing ensemble drama.
The show picks up its storyline on a number of fronts tomorrow night. Of primary interest will be the well-to-do Sloans, who face another marital endurance test when Ruth (Mimi Kennedy) heads off to visit a sick relative, leaving Mike (Ken Jenkins) at home with time on his hands, and his thoughts turning once again to barkeeper Judy Owen (Kelly Rutherford).
For Kennedy, the role of racist society matron Ruth Sloan has been a dream come true.
"It's the perfect revenge for an old hippie who has had to put up with those people in society for so long," the 43-year-old actress says. "I can show them for the venal, selfish people they really are."
Co-star Jessica Steen has been doing her best to drum up publicity for the series. As with all the cast members, Steen made the rounds of newspaper and TV interviews shortly after Homefront was pulled from the air. And although the Canadian actress still has her fingers crossed, she maintains a simple attitude toward the fate of the series.
"I'm the kind of person who hopes for the best and expects the worst," she says.
Boosting Steen's hopes, of course, are several intriguing storylines that have been earmarked for upcoming episodes. Watch for Steen's character, the strong-willed Linda Metcalf, to get wrapped up in a big newspaper story, not to mention a hot romantic affair. Another episode will find Gina (Giuliana Santini) grappling with her memories of a concentration camp.
There is also the on-again, off-again, soon-to-be-on-again romance of Linda's brother, Jeff (Kyle Chandler), and girlfriend Ginger (Tammy Lauren). (Wedding bells may soon ring on that front.) And, of course, the continuing storyline of Linda's polio-stricken mom, Anne (Wendy Phillips).
And so, Homefront viewers can take comfort in knowing they have won a major battle. However, now it's up to them to keep the momentum going.
The Vancouver Sun
January 26, 1993
DESPITE CRITICAL ACCLAIM and a loyal fan following, Homefront has been constantly pre-empted by specials, holidays and assorted other programming obstacles this season - to the point where the show's last telecast, on Dec. 17, ended up in 82nd place among the 114 series on the prime-time schedule.
So, it probably shouldn't have come as a surprise to Jessica Steen when ABC announced last month that Homefront would be going on "indefinite" hiatus.
"We've had such a raw deal," says Steen, the Toronto native who plays Linda Metcalf. "The timeslot we got this year was so steep, against Cheers. And then they kept pre-empting us and running reruns. So, we had, I think, probably a total of two or three new shows in the span of two months."
Still, Steen remains optimistic over the fate of Homefront. Production is continuing, and ABC plans to air new segments in the spring.
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Last update: November 1, 2000 3:38 AM