Showtime shores up

Cablenet unveils slate of original dramas

Showtime programming prexy Jerry Offsay on Tuesday unveiled an ambitious, high-profile original film production slate that includes biopics on convicted CIA spy Aldrich Ames and New York Yankees manager Joe Torre as well as a miniseries docudrama on Gulf War Syndrome.

“The Aldrich Ames Story — The Last Spy” is a docudrama profiling how Ames, the CIA’s chief of counterintelligence, fed top-secret information to the Soviet KGB. It will be exec produced by Bob Benedetti from a screenplay by Michael Burton.

Paul Sorvino has been tabbed to portray Joe Torre in “The Joe Torre Story,” with Robert Loggia and Isaiah Washington co-starring. Presently lensing in Toronto and New York, it tells how Torre overcame adversity to lead the Yankees to the World Series title in 1996.

“Dying For Our Country” is a miniseries examining the effects of chemical warfare on U.S. soldiers during the Gulf War. Andy Adelson, Tracey Alexander and John Sacret Young exec produce from a Young script that Offsay is extremely high on.

“This movie may have our best script ever,” Offsay said. “I’d call it our ‘And the Band Played On’ (referring to the HBO film).”

A second film dealing with war veterans, “The Wall,” currently in production in Toronto, stars Ruby Dee, Savion Glover and Edward James Olmos and presents a trilogy of dramas based on objects left at the Vietnam War Memorial. Edgar Scherick and Lynn Raynor exec produce.

Quartet of pics

The other four projects introduced Tuesday are:

“My Own Country,” slated to begin lensing later this month in Toronto and starring Naveen Andrews, Glenne Headly and Marisa Tomei in a story about a Native American infectious disease specialist whose life is changed when AIDS strikes her East Tennessee community. Mira Nair directs from a script by Jim Leonard, Jr. and Sooni Taraporevela.

“Free of Eden,” starring Sidney Poitier, his daughter, Sydney Tamalia Poitier, and Phylicia Rashad in the story of a teacher-turned-businessman who agrees to tutor a young female dropout. Skedded to begin shooting this month in Toronto, it’s directed by Leon Ichaso from a script by Andy Wolk, Cheryl West and Richard Wesley.

“Running Wild,” which will be shot on location in Zimbabwe by director Timothy Bond. Gregory Harrison stars in the story of a couple trying to stop elephant poachers.

“Goat Christmas” (working title), currently in production in Toronto with Helen Shaver, Diahann Carroll and Tisha Campbell headlining a story about two neighboring families who overcome their own racial prejudice. Stuart Margolin directs from a Rosa Jordan script.

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