If you’re a fan of made for TV movies, the Mill Creek The Excellent Eighties is a must buy, as it has plenty of telefilms for one low price. One example is this 1985 David Lowell Rich directed effort.
Rich directed 113 titles in his IMDB resume. The majority of his career was spent in television, working on shows such as Naked City, Route 66, The Twilight Zone, Mannix and Cannon, as well as theatrical films such as Eye of the Cat and The Concorde… Airport ’79. But he’s more known for his TV movies, which include Horror At 37,000 Feet, SST: Death Flight, Satan’s School for Girls, The Defiant Ones (he worked with Robert Urich often), Telethon, The Sex Symbol and Runaway!
First airing on ABC on January 21, 1985, Rich has a great cast here, led by Burt Lancaster as the publisher of the titular scandal sheet, which is obviously the National Enquirer. His role as Harold Fallen is complex, as he’s kind to many of his employees, but driven by selling paper. When he senses a story, such as causing recovering alcoholic actor Ben Rowan (Urich) to get back on the sauce, he does everything he can to destroy that person.
One scheme is by hiring Helen Grant (Pamela Reed, who was great on Parks and Recreation) as one of his writers. She’s a real journalist who sees herself above his supermarket tabloid, but he promises her a way out of her financial struggle and an opportunity for people to actually read her work. However, he’s hiring her because her best friend Meg North (Lauren Hutton) is married to Rowan, which Fallen rightly assumes will give him inside access to the man he wants to fall down into the gutter again.
Look for appearances by Peter Jurasik (Sid the Snitch from Hill Street Blues), Bobby Di Ciccio (I Wanna Hold Your Hand), character actor Trey Wilson, Douglas Rowe (Critters 2), Rance Howard (father of Ron and Clint), Jeff Goldblum’s ex-wife Patricia Gaul (who shows up in several John Hughes movies), ALF star Max Wright, another fun character actor in Frederick Coffin, Hanna Landy (Grace Cardiff from Rosemary’s Baby), Robert Jayne (who you may know better as his other stage name, Bobby Jacoby) and a small role for a young Frances McDormand.
While you can see where this film is going — it has nothing to do with the 1952 movie Scandal Sheet — it’s surprisingly dark and ends on a total down note, with destroyed friendship, death and face spitting at a funeral. Therefore, this is exactly the kind of movie I love, one that decries sleaze while absolutely swimming in it.
You can watch this on YouTube.