Moore ready for TNT, J&J pic ‘Lettie’

Other key roles in pic still being cast

This article was corrected on July 31, 2002.

TNT — whose record 23 Emmy Award nominations were fueled largely by its longform projects — has set its second original movie collaboration with Johnson & Johnson and tapped Mary Tyler Moore to star in it.

Aimed at a December premiere, the tentatively titled “Miss Lettie and Me” is based on Katherine Paterson’s short story “Poor Little Innocent Lamb.”

Moore will star as Aunt Lettie, an embittered woman who discovers she has a 9-year-old niece when the girl shows up for an extended visit. The niece part is among several key roles in the process of being cast.

Beth Polson is exec producing the two-hour “Miss Lettie,” while Ian Barry is directing and Dalene Young is penning the teleplay. Trio previously collaborated on CBS telepic “Going Home,” which starred Jason Robards and Sherry Stringfield.

The Polson Co. is producing “Miss Lettie” in association with Viacom Prods. and Magna Global Entertainment.

Emmy winner Moore, who is repped by UTA, is largely known for starring in such longtime sitcoms as “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” as well as her Oscar-nommed work in the 1980 feature “Ordinary People.”

She also has earned kudos for turns in more recent TV movies, such as 1993’s “Stolen Babies,” for which she won an Emmy. Most recently, CBS mounted a “Mary Tyler Moore” reunion special during the May ratings sweep.

The “Lettie” news follows the Sunday premiere of TNT’s first Johnson & Johnson Spotlight Presentation, “Door to Door,” starring William H. Macy.

Preem garnered a 4.8 rating in TNT’s homes — equivalent to 4.13 million households and more than 6 million viewers. Projects are part of a previously announced deal between TNT and J&J to develop and produce original films.