TV… Glitter (1984) Season 1 Ep 1 Pilot (TV MOVIE)

#1980s

 

Morgan Brittany and David Birney head a glitter-ing cast in the pilot of this one season wonder…

 

This pair take on headlining roles in what could be described as the ultimate dream soap crossover cast.

 

1984 ABC Glitter Promo, Cubz 1972

 

Flashback to 1984 and at least three of my family was reeling after another Ewing was gunned down in the Dallas (1978-91) series annual cliffhanger. It turned out these bullets were meant for the – now dead? wounded? – Bobby Ewing and not his big brother JR. In the next series, the culprit was discovered to be another spurned Ewing sister-in-law, Pamela Ewing’s stepsister, Katherine Wentworth (Morgan Brittany). But this love instead had been one-sided, as she had been obsessively in love with her goody goody brother-in-law.

So I already knew that Morgan Brittany could play a convincing villainess to the hilt. Simultaneously in the same year, I discovered another of her TV appearances which painted a far different picture. This was in her role as Kate Simpson, a pretty, trustworthy and ethical entertainment journalist – and therefore the conscience of the show – in an Aaron Spelling TV pilot which I’ve tributed in three reviews so far in three different ways.

The series is Glitter (1984-85) where Kate is an intrepid new entertainment reporter thrust into the dazzling – Aaron Spelling created – world of celebrities and glamour. It seems she is also a poor little rich girl but has a plan to prove she can do things for herself and not because of her much-loved daddy. Kate wants to be known for herself and her journalistic skills rather than nepotism.

The pilot episode takes us to her first day at work, at the illustrious Glitter entertainment magazine. We discover this magazine is published by Arthur Hill as Charles Hardwick, a gentle and friendly-looking bloke who also graduated from guest star to regular after this pilot. As in later episodes, he switched his working role in a move that Joe Patroni (George Kennedy) from the Airport film franchise would be proud of.

The Glitter editor in this pilot episode is Mark Hughes and is played by Van Johnson. Despite his impressive careers in films and TV – such as Divorce American Style (1967) and Superdome (1978) – he appears all too briefly. Sadly his character was then shipped off to London as the credits rolled and as far as I know never returned for a guest star role.

The series pilot also introduces us to Kate’s reporter colleagues, who we meet with our protagonist at the morning team meeting. In no particular order, there’s Sam Dillon (David Birney), a man and old-style reporter who eats junk food for breakfast, and probably would for lunch and tea if you let him. He’s single and hoping to find a lovely lady who shares the same passion. He obviously hasn’t thought of hitting the clubs in the wee small hours just before closing time. So he could easily find this kind of lucky lady if he moved to Scotland, but I digress.

There is also the brawn of the episode, cue Christopher Mayer as Pete Bozak. This was an actor who I remembered vaguely from the 1980s as one of the Duke boys’ cousins in The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-85) where he starred for 19 episodes.  Bozak proves in this episode that his character has got some brains too. There are a few scenes with some character development that prove he’s an honest and nice bloke. However – in the episodes I’ve seen – he has to play second fiddle to Birney’s Sam Dillon when it comes to allocating reporting jobs.

Bozak pairs up with for one episode only, the sassy brunette, Julie (Kristen Meadows) who was replaced in the series by Jennifer (Dianne Kay), a blonde. Finally, there is Arte Johnson, as Clive Richlin who has a doddle of a regular role as the magazine photographer.

In a role similar to the Van Diesel one in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017), Johnson takes photos and shouts occasional photographic-themed requests. In this episode, he photographs an unidentified actress… And if you want to find out who, she is identified in the credits and IMDb. Or just watch the show for Van Johnson’s da da moment as he reveals her at the end of the show.

Also working at Glitter is another one-time Dallas star, Timothy Patrick Murphy as the copy boy and apparent comic relief for this episode, Chip Craddock. This 20 year old dresses like Matt Smith’s Doctor Who (1963-) with both characters having a penchant for bow ties and natty waistcoats. Chip is dating Angela Timini (Tracy Nelson), the permanently perky and squeaky-voiced receptionist and this pair – I assume – is designed to appeal to the young uns who don’t know who Van Johnson is.

This band of reporters are then allocated their jobs by the business like Mike Hughes (Van Johnson). Hughes can’t tell the difference between Phyllis Diller and Boy George in a throwaway “comic” line after Clive shows him some photos. The morning meeting is one of his few lengthier appearances then it’s a case of blink and miss him. It’s just a shame we didn’t have more scenes with Van, but he appears more randomly throughout the episode and it would be nice if he had got his own storyline.

Kate and Sam – and their wee frisson of immediate romantic will they won’t they romantic chemistry – are dispatched to visit a one-time Hollywood-based madam who is currently at death’s door in hospital. This woman, known as Madam Lil has had her ladies entertain Hollywood stars and princes with their talents in the bedroom.

Her tell-all story is therefore the scoop of the year, and the reporters are told they can’t visit her. Then they spot a woman – Barbara Nelson (Markie Post) – in a very classy fur leaving Madam Lil’s hospital room… and Sam assumes she’s one of Madam Lil’s employees. Kate’s not so sure…

Then he and Kate are dispatched end to check out another story about an aspiring US senator, Jonathan (Ken Howard)… Then in a touch of Glitter serendipity, Barbara is revealed as his new fiance of the very important politician. The coincidences continue as he is also best pals with Sam… so Barbara naturally has a wobbly after seeing Kate and Sam…

Pete and Julie have to attend an on-set / off-set reunion between one-time Hollywood on-screen dancers and off-screen sweethearts, Marlene (Juliet Prowse) and George (Mike Connors). This much-loved pair parted ways back in the day, and it’s unclear why… Now, this pair are reunited and claim they want to help out the other financially. But despite a few clashes, it seems that they still fancy the socks off each other on set, and off-set…

Clive has got an exclusive (Aaron Spelling inspired) cover girl photo session. But her face is not seen til the closing scenes with the unveiling of the front cover. The site, Destined to Denver tells HERE that the body parts of this cover girl were played apparently by two different red herring model types. This is good to know if you watch this series with a loved one who might just crick their neck “researching” this for you. When her stand-ins’ legs and body are shown leading to the male cast gazing in awe at these women from afar. With Mark, Clive and Sam the only ones in the know …

Meanwhile, Chip wants to move in with Angela, and he asks everyone and anyone for advice on how to ask her, from agony aunt colleagues, Shelley (Barbara Sharma) to radio sex therapists. In this latter role, it is… da, da, dah, Joan Van Ark who played the ultra virtuous Valene in the Dallas spin-off, Knots Landing (1979-93). Van Ark has a whale of a time vamping it up as a wannabe cougar with designs on young Chip.

In a wee soap connection, this casting is crazy as when you think about it Van Ark’s on-screen daughter, aka Lucy Ewing from Dallas also dated a Timothy Patrick Murphy character, Mickey Trotter. This also sums up why an extended universe for 80s prime time series is virtually impossible to follow, both on and off screen… ask Maxwell Caulfield and Juliet Mills about their roles in Dynasty (1981-1989)…

Later, Sam manages to dodge the hospital guards – pulling that hide behind a bunch of flowers trick – and interviews Madam Lil. Madam Lil is played by a gravelly voiced Patricia Neal and she’s totally mesmerising to listen to as it’s heavily hinted this story has more revelations to come. The link between the senator, his fiance and Madam Lil is revealed after Kate and Sam do some detective work and naturally have befriended all three and are there – chewing scenery – as the secrets spill out.

Those older dancers, Marlene and George rekindle their romance as inspired by two of the young dancers for their reunion movie. These young dancers, Tom and Carol are played by Terri Copley and Adrian Zmed. After they get the gig, Tom claims they are engaged, but they are actually brother and sister… cue complications when Tom is spotted snogging another woman, and Carol makes a drunken pass at Bozak.

This storyline does have the bonus of two dance numbers – to appeal to everyone – where Zmed shows off his Grease 2 (1982) prowess as a one-time T-bird dancer. The finale has Prowse and Connors doing their dance routine. This ingenious dance routine, has Prowse do most of her dancing with a third, younger partner and she literally dances circles around Connors. This scene was commented on by the Washington Post HERE by reporter Tom Shales,

That audience should definitely tune in for the “Glitter” finale, supposedly a big production number danced by the two old stars. That Prowse is a dancer and Connors anything but is made hilariously evident by the “choreography,” which has Connors woodenly wandering about in a sea of fog while Prowse dances her leggy legs off.

Meanwhile, it appears Van will be having a fleeting moment in the series, as we are introduced to the publisher and Kate makes an exit. It seems Kate and this publisher have a past after Sam spots them dining together… and very intimate it looks too… and Sam is a wee bit peeved (jealous??).

As pilots go this was one enticing pilot from Aaron Spelling, ABC mogul and the bright spark who had a winning formula… Take one connecting theme eg cruise / celebrity magazine / island / hotel and add a cast of series regulars and then cast an array of guest stars from Golden Hollywood, soaps and recent movies and what have you got? The winning The Love Boat (1977-87) / Glitter  / Fantasy Island (1977-84) / Hotel (1983-88)…

These productions are now treasured series for those cheesy storylines, moral – and immoral – plots and a guest star list which exceeded those Irwin Allen disaster films (maybe). Despite those Hollywood big and small timers and soapy regulars and their countless degrees of separation, it’s sad that Glitter was a flop. I loved the uniqueness of the setting, with many of the scenes setting up the characters’ wee quirks and hints about life stories. And of course those Dallas connections…

Brittany and Birney’s characters as the new girl and old hand lead to a clash of ideals. It was made clear that Kate was more of a trailblazer in her new career who believes in ethical journalism and that what is said off the record, should stay that way. More importantly that their published articles shouldn’t hurt those who tell them, and an inspiring role model for us entertainment bloggers.

Finally, Morgan Brittany as a child actress also has a link with both Tracy Nelson and Van Johnson. Both actresses when they were wee – and Morgan then known as Suzanne Cupito – starred with him in Yours, Mine and Ours (1968). These roles were alongside Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda as their on-screen kids. She also worked with Birney before starring in a one-off episode of his comedy series, Bridget Loves Bernie in 1972.

After Glitter went off the air in the UK, I was superhappy when she returned for another Dallas cliffhanger. This time Katherine Wentworth successfully – and apparently – made it to the front page of the Dallas newspapers by missing her mark, and instead of killing her stepsister – had a nightmare moment – and instead killed Bobby Ewing.

 

Weeper Rating0 /10

Handsqueeze Rating:  🙂  🙂 🙂  🙂 🙂  🙂  /10

Hulk Rating: ‎  mrgreen ‎/10

 


Cinema Shame September 2022

Other reviews here with this cast include Adrian Zmed starred in Grease 2 and Retro Galaxies of TV Guest Stars.  Arte Johnson in Fantasy Island. Mike Connors in The Fall Guy. David Birney is remembered in my tribute to him in Glitter.  Joan Van Ark in Knots Landing. Juliet Prowse in Murder, She Wrote. Markie Post inThe Fall Guy, Hart to Hart and Visitors of the Night. Morgan Brittany in Gypsy (as Suzanne Cupito) Dallas and as Katherine Wentworth. Van Johnson in Divorce American Style and Superdome


 

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “TV… Glitter (1984) Season 1 Ep 1 Pilot (TV MOVIE)

  1. Great review, Gill!
    I have shockingly never heard of glitter! I guess my older sister’s must have never watched it or I would have had some knowledge of the series. I will have to poke around YouTube to see if there are episodes available.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s easy to forget just how big and influential the nighttime soaps were back in the ’80s, like an MCU with high fashion, Lear jets and $200 haircuts. It’s interesting to see a second wave of Dallas and Dynasty-like soaps taking off in popularity in the 2010 and 20s, things like Succession, Yellowstone, Empire and the new Monarch series. The more things change…

    Liked by 1 person

Love your thoughts... but only if they are spoiler free!

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