At any rate, the industry can’t seem to get enough of this story right now, and with any luck, the public feels the same way. If so, the tabloid syndicated strips “A Current Affair” and “Hard Copy” could simply be renamed, on an interim basis, “A Currency Affair” and “Heidi Copy” (although, in a sense, both existing titles would still be appropriate).
Best of all, the tale of alleged high-class prostitution features potential courtroom drama without any violence, so the webs wouldn’t have to worry about Congress getting on their case. “More madams, fewer murderers” could be TV’s new motto.
Can the market actually support a half-dozen Heidi movies? Look at it this way: the Amy Fisher movies, broadcast within a week of each other between last Dec. 28 and Jan. 3, mystifyingly outrated both the Super Bowl and the final episode of “Cheers” if you add results for the three together. There’s a lesson there somewhere, though some simply saw it as a sign of cultural Armageddon.
BASED ON AMY’S TRACK RECORD, primetime could become “The Heidi Chronicles.” No TV movies are planned yet, but that’s just a formality. Meanwhile, here are some helpful hints on how each network could bring its own particular style to the property:
“The Hollywood Madam: Murder of Love” (CBS Tuesday Movie) — Valerie Bertinelli stars as a young girl obsessed with the bright lights, drawn into a lurid world of high-class prostitution by her boyfriend-producer Ivan Nagy (Patrick Stewart). Based on a bestselling book by Joe McGinniss that gets inside the head of Heidi, Ivan and even her customers.
“Heidi Fleiss: My Story” (NBC Monday Movie) — Madeleine Stowe makes her network TV movie debut as a very sympathetic Heidi, based on Heidi’s own tell-a lot biography. NBC pays $ 750,000 for the rights, proudly noting that Heidi hasn’t been convicted of anything yet. Followed the next day by an exclusive interview with Heidi on “Dateline NBC.”
“The Heidi Fleiss Story” (ABC Sunday Movie) — Mary Page Keller, continuing a network affiliation that includes the in-house series “Camp Wilder” and now “Joe’s Life,” stars in this gripping drama based solely on court transcripts of the case.
“Heidi, 90210: The Teen Years” (Fox Night at the Movies) — High-schooler Heidi (Shannen Doherty), after having her heart broken by an older boy (Grant Show of “Melrose Place”), engages in her first experiment with pandering. A look at the teenager provides lurid insight into the young woman at the center of controversy.
“Heidi: The President’s Madam” (USA Network Movie) — Fictionalized drama exploring affairs that might have occurred between Heidi Fleiss and Bill Clinton , Ted Kennedy and Gary Hart had she actually ever met any of them. Billed as “a fictionalized conjecture based on the assumption that we don’t have very high ratings to begin with, so no one is likely to sue us.”
“Heidi: Victim of the Hollywood Johns” (Lifetime) — Gripping account of how the male-dominated system forced Heidi Fleiss into an alleged life as a Hollywood madam, then vigorously prosecuted her while leaving her clients untouched. Scathing indictment of the industry and law enforcement’s double standard. With Janine Turner as Heidi, Ernest Borgnine as Ivan Nagy.
CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THE LETTERS PAGE: With the Hollywood madam story dominating press coverage, some may have overlooked another intriguing news item Monday: Tom and Roseanne Arnold bought a five-newspaper chain in southern Iowa.
The Arnolds, alluding to their much-publicized wrangling with the press, even joked that the deal essentially amounted to a “if you can’t beat ’em, buy ’em” strategy. Indeed, maybe owning newspapers will make the couple more understanding of journalism and sympathetic to those who make what we laughingly call a living at it.
Still, if the Arnolds find themselves looking for a TV critic, it’s a good bet that’s one job for which USA Today columnist Matt Roush probably need not apply.