Cabler greeenlights Nero Wolfe telepic

NEW YORK — Fresh off a record-breaking Nielsen rating Sunday for “Murder in a Small Town,” with Gene Wilder as an amateur sleuth, A&E will commission an original movie featuring fictional detective Nero Wolfe.

A&E is counting on the movie, adapted by Paul Monash from “Golden Spiders,” one of the 73 Nero Wolfe novels written by Rex Stout, to be the first in a series of two-hour mystery movies for A&E featuring Wolfe, to be produced by Michael Jaffe and Howard Braunstein. A spokesman for A&E declined to comment on the “Golden Spiders” movie.

The Nero Wolfe project is the third of a planned series of regularly scheduled original movies focusing on American mysteries. The high ratings of “Murder in the Small Town” guarantee that A&E will do more movies starring Wilder as Cash Carter, a theater director who solves crimes in his spare time. Producers of the Cash Carter movie are Fred Berner and Steven Paul, in association with Granada Entertainment.

The second in A&E’s domestic-mysteries strategy, also produced by Jaffe/Braunstein, is a new version of “Spenser for Hire,” starring Joe Mantegna as the literate Boston detective created by Robert B. Parker. “Small Vices” is the Parker novel now in production in Toronto, under the direction of Robert Markowitz.

Casting is under way on “Golden Spiders.” Stout’s detective was the subject of a short-lived 1981 NBC primetime series “Nero Wolfe,” starring William Conrad in the title role, with Lee Horsely as Wolfe’s sidekick Archie Goodwin.

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