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  BELLED #31 - JULY 13, 2003

Welcome to the Summer Edition of Belled!

Our Summer Issue traditionally premieres LIFETIME Television's new season, and although Any Day Now is no longer in production, LIFETIME is packed with original programming this month for the discriminating Designing Women fan. Delta Burke and Annie Potts are both debuting LIFETIME original movie dramas, and of course, LIFETIME is premiering The Designing Women Reunion!! We know many of you have been anxiously awaiting this edition since we first announced the reunion this Spring, so without giving too much away, we finally present our reunion preview!

VCR ALERT! - Monday, July 14

Speaking of reunions, don't forget to set your VCRs for the ladies of ABC's The View as they host their own mini DW reunion with Dixie, Delta, Annie and Meshach on Monday, July 14! And at 9pm, catch Delta and Mac in the LIFETIME original movie, Going for Broke.

Now for this edition. . .

Cast Feature: LIFETIME Television gears up for a full evening with the cast of Designing Women.

Project Spotlight: Designing Women alumni tackle serious issues in LIFETIME Original Movies.

Designing Women Flashback: Designing Women comes to DVD!


'The Designing Women Reunion' - Monday, July 28

Designing Women Reunion

LIFETIME presents an evening of memories, laughs, tears, and good
ole fashioned conversation with the ladies of Sugarbaker's.

Last month, hundreds of Designing Women fans, family, and friends gathered in a soundstage before a Southern veranda set for the live taping of The Designing Women Reunion. Many were even packed in down on the floor, often behind cameras but only inches away from fan favorites such as Hal Holbrook, Gerald McRaney and the amazing Alice Ghostley. Others whispered as they caught glimpses of Ginna Carter and Brian Lando -- trying to place their now-grown-up faces. Harry Thomason floated around the set giving last minute directions, and desperate fans scanned the periphery of the stage hoping to spot their favorite 'Designing Woman.'

After a fairly significant delay which served to build the excitement in the soundstage even more, Meshach Taylor took the stage as emcee of the event and was met with resounding cheers and applause. Moments later, the energy was so palpable you could almost see it crackle, and Meshach introduced the four original cast members. Dixie Carter, Delta Burke, Annie Potts, and Jean Smart stood together, holding hands onstage as the crowd jumped to their feet and erupted into several minutes of "uninterrupted thunderous ovation."

As the ladies settled onto the veranda setting, they quickly teased Harry about needing some wine to complete the atmosphere, to which he responded by calling out the direction for some sodas on the set. Already in her groove, Annie Potts sharply added in Mary Jo style sarcasm that "sodas" better be code for "wine" -- and the tone for the evening was set!

What followed was several hours of the most delightful, energized recollections of these women who were, for the first time in twelve years, all together at the same time. Make no mistake while you're watching -- their camaraderie, feeding off each other almost simultaneously as they recall their favorite moments, funny mishaps, and even the emotional pain they endured is not scripted.

The cast holds nothing back, even diving into the sharky waters of Delta's depression and how it affected the show and everyone involved. There is often belly-aching laughter and the sudden stream of tears; and, in between, some of the greatest examples of good ole fashioned story-telling that can be found on any veranda, around any camp fire, or in any form of media.

Other highlights of The Designing Women Reunion include thematic montage clips (character-based, musical, romantic), interviews with the men who played the Gentleman Callers on the series (Hal Holbrook, Gerald McRaney, Richard Gilliland, and Doug Barr), and Alice Ghostley joining the women and Meshach on stage, recalling her memories working with the group on the show.

Creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason also joins them on-stage and recalls how she went to the network executives with only the idea to have these particular four women sitting around talking. With The Designing Women Reunion, you will have a rare glimpse into that inspiration because, truly, the heart and soul of this 'reunion special' is in the reunion of these women and their evening-long conversation. The Designing Women Reunion offers us the privilege to gather ‘round and listen.

Invite some of your own friends and family over to watch on LIFETIME, Monday, July 28 as The Designing Women Reunion anchors a night of timeless Designing Women memories. The evening will begin at 7pm with Intimate Portrait: Delta Burke. The 90 minute special, airing at 8pm, will be followed by the series' pilot at 9:30pm (ET/PT) and favorite cast episodes at 10pm (ET/PT).

The Designing Women Reunion is produced by Mozark Productions for Sony Pictures Television Inc. Harry Thomason and Linda Bloodworth are the executive producers.

**Photo Credit: LIFETIME Television


'Designing Women' Alumni Tackle Serious Issues
in LIFETIME Original Movies

Gerald McRaney and Delta Burke

Delta and Mac star as a couple whose lives are torn apart by
compulsive gambling in Going for Broke.

Delta Burke and Gerald McRaney star in the story of a woman who loses her job and family when her obsession with gambling takes over her life. Based on a true story, the LIFETIME Original Movie Going for Broke, premieres Monday, July 14 from 9-11pm (ET/PT) on LIFETIME Television.

Laura (Burke) and Jim Bancroft (McRaney) moved their family from Florida to Reno for Laura’s new job as head of fundraising for a children’s charity. They were ready to make a fresh start and knew it wouldn’t be easy, but none of them was prepared for the tough road that would be paved for them by the flashing lights and ringing bells of the casinos that beckoned. In the beginning, Laura gambled just for fun, and the thrill of winning became an escape from the pressures at home and work. But beginner’s luck doesn’t last forever and soon Laura finds herself losing thousands and thousands of dollars. Unable to resist the temptation of that elusive big win, Laura plummets deeper into her addiction. She begins to embezzle from the foundation and pawns her family’s belongings to fund her habit. Jim eventually discovers months of unpaid bills. It becomes harder for Laura to hide her problem from her family, who has become well aware of Laura’s gambling. When the foundation undergoes a random audit, her deceit is finally brought to light and Laura must now face the legal and personal consequences of her addiction.

"Going for Broke is a powerful depiction of problem gambling and its impact on an individual and their family," said Keith Whyte, Executive Director, National Council on Problem Gambling. "We hope it encourages all viewers to consider this issue and to get help if necessary."

Executive Producer Anne Carlucci feels this is an important issue to bring to the forefront. "This can happen to anyone. Gambling is fun. It’s not illegal, but it’s insidious and, like most addictions, you don’t know you have a problem until it’s too late," she noted. "I hope this movie will make people more aware of the dangers of compulsive gambling."

Burke echoes this sentiment. "Everyone is well aware of the risks involved with alcohol or drug abuse, but no one really talks about compulsive gambling. It can just sneak up on you but have just as devastating an affect on your life as any other addiction," she remarked.

Though not a gambler himself, McRaney recognizes the appeal gambling has for many people and feels it’s unfortunate that so many lose control. "I would venture to say that this is not an uncommon story among people who are compulsive gamblers," he observed. "Much like with any other addiction, people all too often wind up losing everything before they decide that yes, in fact, they do need help."

Going for Broke is produced by Viacom Productions in association with Brayton/Carlucci Productions for LIFETIME Television.

Annie Potts stars in the shocking true story of a woman's fight to
protect children against online sexual predators.

Annie PottsEmmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominee Annie Potts and Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominee Michael O'Keefe star in the LIFETIME Original Movie, Defending Our Kids: The Julie Posey Story. Inspired by a true story, Potts portrays Julie Posey, a homemaker who, after her young daughter is approached by a pedophile in an online chat room, launches a one-woman fight to help police investigator Mike Harris (Michael O'Keefe) catch sexual predators by posing as a lonely teenager on the web. Defending Our Kids: The Julie Posey Story premieres Monday, July 21, 9-11pm (ET/PT) on LIFETIME Television.

"Julie Posey’s story is remarkable," Executive Producer Frank von Zerneck said, "not only because she is an ordinary person who has shown extraordinary bravery and dedication as a cyber-crimefighter, but also because her story raises a significant issue -- how do you protect your children? The statistics on pedophiles out there prowling the web are staggering. As a grandparent myself, it’s a very real concern." Executive Producer Robert M. Sertner continued, "This story is suspenseful, too, because it’s about someone who must outwit these predators by putting herself in potentially dangerous situations," he added. "The more we watch her tracking down suspects, the more we realize how pervasive and destructive this threat is, and the more we want to root for her. She is a real unsung hero in our society today."

"As soon as I read about Julie Posey and her work, I knew her story deserved to become a movie," Executive Producer Ira Pincus said. "It illuminates an important problem that many people don’t realize exists," he explained. "The Internet has changed the world in many great and positive ways, but it also has had negative affects, like making children far more vulnerable to sexual predators. What is truly inspirational is that nobody asked Julie to do this. She could be anyone’s mother, or anyone’s sister or aunt or grandmother. But she recognized that there was a huge need and took it upon herself to make a change."

Homemaker Julie Posey and her husband, Jerry (Carl Marotte), are horrified to discover that their 13-year-old daughter, Kristyn (Ksenia Solo), has agreed to meet a man who befriended her in an online chat room. Julie races to find Kristyn just in time, but the much older stranger gets away. Disheartened to learn from police investigator Mike Harris (Michael O'Keefe) that there are no laws to stop pedophiles from preying on children on the web, Julie volunteers to monitor chat rooms for the police by pretending she is a teenager and keeping a log of the conversations. But in spite of her success in helping to arrest and convict predators, her work puts a strain on her family, who feels she is going too far. Then the revelation in court that Julie herself was sexually molested as a child jeopardizes her testimony and forces Mike to stop working with her. Julie must find a way to prove herself, both to her family and to the police -- even at the risk of her own life.

"Online enticement of children, particularly teen girls, is a serious problem in the United States," said Tina Schwartz, Director of Public Affairs, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. "The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) is grateful to LIFETIME Television for airing Defending Our Kids: The Julie Posey Story to inform parents and potential victims of the risks involved in meeting an Internet friend in the real world."

Director Joanna Kerns was immediately drawn to the project because Julie Posey’s story is about a phenomenon that affects all families. "Those of us who live everyday lives don’t think about how the Internet has created such access to our children inside our own homes," Kerns said. "I would like viewers to recognize that everyone needs to become more aware and responsible about using the web." Annie Potts was moved by Posey’s spirit. "It’s an empowering story," Potts explained. "Here is an ordinary housewife who actually does find and bring down the bad guys. She proves that one person can make a difference." Michael O'Keefe also admires how Julie Posey acted on her own initiative to go to the police. "She saw what was happening and knew there was something she could do to help protect kids. In a sense, just by making that choice she shows how our strength as a society depends on each of us," he concluded.

Defending Our Kids: The Julie Posey Story is produced by Ira Pincus Productions in association with von Zerneck Sertner Films for LIFETIME Television.

More information on Julie Posey can be found at Julie Posey's Official Website

**Source: LIFETIME Television Publicity
Photos credits: LIFETIME Television


'Designing Women' Comes to DVD!

The Best of Designing WomenIf you haven't visited the Designing Women Tribute website lately, you may not have heard that the wish of DW fans is finally being answered -- Columbia Tri-Star has announced the first DVD release of Designing Women! Five of the most popular episodes chosen by fans will be presented as The Best of Designing Women:

  • Designing Women (the pilot episode)
  • Killing All the Right People (from Season 2)
  • Reservations for Eight (from Season 2)
  • Big Hass and Little Falsie (from Season 3)
  • They Shoot Fat Women Don't They? (from Season 4)

Starring Dixie Carter, Delta Burke, Annie Potts, Jean Smart and Meshach Taylor, this taste of the South will be available on September 2nd, with a list price of $19.95. Unlike the episodes seen in syndication, the DVD episodes will be presented in their original format, with a total running time of 119 minutes.

Belled Online will continue its Designing Women DVD Poll for fans to express their desire for more of the series, but The Best of Designing Women will serve as a market test, and its success will have the most influence on future DVD releases and affirm interest in full-seasons of the series -- so be sure to add The Best of Designing Women to your holiday wish list!