Scandalous love triangle grabs Grenada America


Quaid, Witherspoon


MAD(E) FOR TV: Last week, when the story of Lisa Marie Nowak – the “Pampered Astronaut” – made the news (to be quickly shuffled aside by the death of Anna Nicole Smith), New York Daily News columnist David Hinckley ruefully lamented that “if Nowak had done this just 10 years earlier, there would have been a much more satisfying payoff for all of us: Her sordid, bizarre and deliciously wacky story would have given us a great made-for-TV movie.”


“Alas, they don't make movies for TV anymore, meaning Nowak's story can only remind us how much, at times like this, we miss them.”


The made-for-TV movie, for those youngsters whose memory extends no further back than the first season of Idol, was topical, quickly and cheaply made, and a guilty pleasure for many of us; the 1976 adaptation of Helter Skelter that starred Steve Railsback as Charles Manson, for instance, was the sort of TV movie that became a cultural event back in the day of perms and double-knit. Hinckley asserts that the golden age of the genre “peaked in 1992 when we got three, count 'em, three competing films on Amy Fisher, the ‘Long Island Lolita’ who knocked on her sleazy boyfriend's door and shot his wife in the head.’

“Alas,” sighed Hinckley, clearly burdened with a surplus of alases, “those 24-hour news channels, plus cheap ‘reality’ shows, have pretty much knocked made-for-TV movies into history.”

Alas, Hinckley might have underestimated the spirit of the age, since the Associated Press reported on Friday that Granada American has optioned the rights to a New York Times article on Nowak. “The chronicle of Lisa Marie Nowak has had a global impact and contains almost every dramatic element possible,” Granada America CEO David Gyngell said Friday. “One could not imagine a more compelling story.”

“In the old days, TV movie programmers would have demanded they have a proposal on their desk by noon and a script by 5,” mused Hinckley in the Daily News last week, in what seems now like a more innocent time. “Try for Reese Witherspoon as the star and if that doesn't work, settle for Britney Spears. Is Dennis Quaid available to play the pilot?”

“Start production tomorrow,” he said, “and it could be on-air by the end of the February sweeps.” We’re supposed to be living in a leaner, faster, more responsive digital age; I think, if I dare to be presumptuous, that what Hinckley proposes is something in the nature of a challenge.