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A Better Michael Mann Creation Than “Public Enemies”


 

I don’t know why CBS/Paramount is the only big studio doing TV-on-DVD releases on a regular basis (even if it’s often split-season, music-altered releases), but they are, and their commitment to the Aaron Spelling Productions catalogue continues with the first half of the first season of Vega$. This show, one of the seminal products of TV’s disco era, combined formula storytelling, titillation, insane story ideas, the late Robert Urich in the most successful of his many, many series, and Tony Curtis as a dude named “Philip Roth,” the most bizarre character name choice since the second lead in Kiss Me Kate was named “Lois Lane.”

As the subject implies, Michael Mann wrote the pilot (he’d worked for Spelling on Starsky and Hutch) and was therefore credited as the creator of the show, though he didn’t write any episodes of the series proper. Still, “created by Michael Mann, produced by Aaron Spelling” is the sweetest incomplete sentence known to humankind.

(Seems like it used to be far more common than it is now for an in-demand writer to write the pilot and the pilot only, on the understanding that he wouldn’t have to do the series. Now that happens a lot with directors — big-name feature directors do the pilots and then take off — but for the most part, those who are hired to write pilots are simultaneously hired to stick around for a series if there is one. I think some of this has to do with the collapse of the TV-movie business on the networks; the line between writing a two-hour pilot and a two-hour TV movie was almost nonexistent, and when Mann wrote something like Vega$, he was essentially doing a TV movie that someone else could, if they chose, turn into a show.)


 

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