Eye cabler looks to ‘Legends’

Could make miniseries a regularly scheduled show

NEW YORK — The cable network CBS Eye on People may turn its most ambitious miniseries, the 10-hour “Legends, Icons & Superstars of the 20th Century,” into a regularly scheduled series.

That’s the word from Geoffrey Darby, president of Eye on People, who said at a press conference here to introduce the series, “We deliberately didn’t call the project ‘Great People of the 20th Century’ because the word great in the title would make it harder to turn the show into a franchise.”

David L. Wolper (“Roots,” “The Thorn Birds”), who’s producing the 10 hours, told reporters that it was brutally hard to narrow the list down to the final total of 50. Each of the 10 hourlong parts of the series will take five of the personages, lumping them into categories like “Five Giants of Science,” “Five Masters of the Arts” and “Five Movie Superstars.”

It’s a co-production of CBS Cable and Warner Bros. Domestic Pay TV, Cable & Network Features. CBS will draw on the resources of the following Time Inc. magazines: Entertainment Weekly, Life, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, People and In Style. Time magazine won’t be involved because it’s working on a separate centennial project with the CBS broadcast network.

“Legends, Icons & Superstars” begins on Eye on People in November 1998 and a new episode will kick in each month. The network now reaches 11-million subscribers via cable and satellite dish, and Darby says that, based on rollout commitments, the network could shoot up to 17 million by the end of the year.