Friday, December 03, 1999

Schott movie coming to cable

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Marge Schott was surprised to learn that cable's USA Network plans to make a prime-time movie about her life — without her permission.

        “Are they allowed to do that?” she said Thursday. “I wonder if I should contact my attorney.”

        USA announced plans for The Marge Schott Story, based on the 1993 book, Marge Schott: Unleashed, by Cincinnati Post sports editor Mike Bass, and “other public domain material,” said Matthew Marcus, USA publicist.

        As an unauthorized biography, Mrs. Schott will have no control over the script or production, he said.

        Mrs. Schott refused to be interviewed for Unleashed, which recounted her racist remarks and other problems while majority owner of the Cincinnati Reds. Mrs. Schott, who sold the team to a group headed by Carl Lindner earlier this year under pressure from Major League Baseball, called the book “all lies.”

        Here was how USA described the film: “The true story of how a gorgeous debutante parlays a marriage and her inheritance into vast fortunes. Invading the all-male universe of Major League Baseball, the world becomes Marge Schott's china shop. When she takes on the old-boy network of the business world, she beats them with smarts, a tight fist, and a callous disregard for the rules of polite society.”

        Joanna Lancaster (Ruthless People) and Kim Hori will be executive producers for the film, to air sometime in the next two years. Carolyn Shelby (Class Action) and Chris Ames are writing the script, which “has not been finalized yet,” Mr. Marcus said.

        No actors have been signed.

        “It's hard for anyone to pin things down, because the script isn't finished yet. But we expect to make this movie,” he said.

        The basic cable channel, which reaches 77 million U.S. homes, announced 19 original movies for 2000-2001. The list included biographies of George Foreman, Wilt Chamberlain, jailed teacher Mary Kay Letourneau and Attila the Hun, a mix of authorized and unauthorized projects.

        USA has produced The Mary Kay Letourneau Story: All-American Girl, to debut Jan. 18, with cooperation from the former Seattle teacher who had the baby of a 13-year-old student in 1997.

        USA's Hefner: Unauthorized (8 p.m. Dec. 12) was filmed without the permission of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. Randall Batinkoff (As Good As It Gets, The Peacemaker) stars in the title role, with Rebecca Herbst (General Hospital) as former Playmate Barbi Benton andRebecca Romijm-Stamos as his second wife, Kimberly Conrad-Hefner.

        Mrs. Schott said she didn't know about the USA movie until called by the Enquirer Thursday. She hadn't given any thought about her life as a movie for many years, although she has considered writing an autobiography.

        “A long time ago, someone called about wanting to make a movie about me, but I never got back to them.

        “I've always wanted to write a book. I'd call it: Lady, What Are You Doing Here?”

        NIGHTLINE DATE: ABC's Nightline finally has scheduled a broadcast of the speeches of Rabbi Stephen S. Wise from the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives at Hebrew Union College.

        The program will air late Monday, approximately 12:35 a.m., after Monday Night Football and local news.

        The sermons recently were transferred from antique 12-inch aluminum records made by Rabbi Wise from 1934 to 1941 at New York's Carnegie Hall.

        MILLIONAIRE BACK: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire returns as three one-hour shows a week on Jan. 11: at 8 p.m. Tuesday (with Spin City replacing Sports Night at 9:30), 9 p.m. Thursday and 9 p.m. Sunday.


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