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This made-for-television production is about a fledging television network in 1948 Manhattan. The program begins with wide-eyed Audrey Drummond arriving in Manhattan. At the Empire Network, the crew attempts to film a live version of Henrik Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler," even though a props gun wasn't put on stage for the play's classic finale. Meanwhile, Audrey goes to Empire to meet with Mr. Robert Sloane, a.k.a. "The Colonel," the network's programmer. Audrey is amazed when she first sees a television in the studio. The network is abuzz when Audrey arrives, throwing her straight into makeup, mistaking her for that evening's contestant for the Miss Eve on-camera hostess. She is immediately taken onstage before everyone realizes she is applying to be The Colonel's secretary. Audrey is escorted to the control room, where she is amazed by the manic proceedings. Ultimately, Audrey meets with The Colonel, who quickly hires her for the "brand new" enterprise. At the same time, junior ad agent Tim Wilkison fights with floor manager Walt Kaplan about not getting one of his commercial plugs on during the broadcast. Later, The Colonel calls network owner Doc Powers, stressing that the station needs to get a broadcasting license as CBS and NBC already have a leg up on the fledging Empire. The Colonel admits to Doc that he actually hired Audrey to help him close up shop at Empire. The next day, Tim tracks down Audrey, asking her for help in getting in good with The Colonel. Tim discusses how Doc, an eccentric loner, is missing. During Tim's somewhat romantic overtures, Audrey continually flashes back to her own passionate encounters with fiancŽ Ralph. Then, Tim tells The Colonel that their version of "Hedda" is going to get a great review in The New York Times and that sponsors will be lining up. Audrey meets a group of jazz musicians known as Royal Flush. As led by Joe Royal, the group is looking to audition for Walt. Later, Walt must reveal that the network has no openings for them. Audrey wonders if Walt turned the men down because they are black. Audrey is amazed when The Colonel tells her how many television sets are getting sold around the nation. He also tells her of the network's next production, an interpretation of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town." Then, The Colonel and Audrey watch an Empire show consisting entirely of harpist Melody Anders's music. Afterward, Walt is unhappy at how boring the performance was, complaining to The Colonel. Walt asks Audrey to call Royal Flush back for an audition. The next morning, Audrey runs into The Colonel on Fifth Avenue and voices how excited she is about the day's read-through. Royal Flush arrives at studio and impresses Walt with their skills. However, some of the group's members aren't so sure about the gig until Joe convinces them otherwise. At the read-through, imperious actor Vaughn Clay says that his role of the stage manager in "Our Town" will be annoying to his fans. However, Audrey makes him see the part in a better light. Meanwhile, Tim flirts with secretary Miss Jones before ad boss Mr. Spelman arrives. Tom convinces him that they need to broaden their base for soap advertising and that his son, young Fenton Spelman, should be in the commercials. Later, Vaughn gets into a fight with the other actors when he cuts back on rehearsals for the upcoming performance. Then, The Colonel, Tim, Walt, and Audrey go to meet with Doc, who claims to have finally created a kinescopic camera. There, they also meet Doc's brand-new trophy wife, Marion. The next day, during the actors' blocking, Walt finally gets a chance to shine as a director, the job to which he aspires. Later, comic Ed Wynn rehearses for Empire's "Comedy Cavalcade" and Audrey is tickled, though Marion doesn't find him amusing. The Colonel and Doc take a walk in Central Park and talk about the kinescope, as well as Marion. Doc tells The Colonel that Marion helps him forget about being unhappy. Doc says that he talked Marion out of suicide, making The Colonel think that she's a golddigger. At lunch, Tim and Walt tell lighting director Burlingame about the new musicians and he worries about how the black men will film. Later, Doc is furious that Ed's assistants are appearing on camera showing cleavage. Tim struggles to get Fenton to go onstage for the soap spot, causing a disaster that nevertheless gets a huge audience reaction. Afterward, Marion tells The Colonel that Doc has a brain tumor. The next day, Tim asks Audrey to help him get a new sponsor, as well as keep a scathing letter from Mr. Spelman away from The Colonel. Then, Audrey gets a call from her Ralph, who breaks off their engagement. Meanwhile, Royal Flush plays for the cameras and gets a good response from the Empire staff. Tim tracks Doc and Marion down, relaying a bogus message from The Colonel. Tim states that The Colonel, who is headed to Washington D.C. to address legislators, needs a replacement director for "Our Town." Tim suggests that he fill the role, thinking it will gain him time before Mr. Spelman's complaint against him becomes public knowledge. The Colonel then has to tell Walt that he will no longer direct, later noting that Royal Flush is to be paid under scale. Later, Audrey and Walt go to a bar where he consoles her about Ralph. After making his own overtures, he has to admit that he's married. A knockout in a boxing match causes Empire to have to scramble for programming. Tim rushes back to the studio and throws Royal Flush on the air, during which the ever-ebullient Joe fills time by ad-libbing to the camera. Doc is stupefied by what he's watching, thinking that a black man should never talk directly to viewers. While Audrey is impressed by Joe's skills, Doc storms down to the set to chew out Joe for his "effrontery." Walt defends Joe to Doc while Marion tries to calm him down. Joe walks out, followed by the other members. Later, the actors further rehearse "Our Town" on the day before its presentation. Vaughn remains problematic. Meanwhile, Joe lays in bed, being consoled by his wife Lorraine. Elsewhere, Doc also remains in bed, telling Marion that the illness made him appear "hateful" to Joe. Later, Marion tells Tim and Walt that she wants to be Empire's Miss Eve. Walt subtley states that contestants must be unmarried. Then, Tim learns that Old Gold cigarettes is looking for seats in the sponsor's booth -- apparently interested in advertising. Eventually, "Our Town" has its final dress rehearsal, during which a variety of glitches surface. As the group starts to leave, Doc collapses and an ambulance is called. When the EMTs arrive, Doc is declared dead. Tim and Marion realize that Doc committed suicide after finally perfecting the kinescopic camera. At a bar, Tim, Walt, Audrey, and The Colonel discuss Doc and what their future holds. That night, Marion watches Doc's filmed will. Later, The Colonel meets his father at a hotel to discuss the future of television, and the job offers he received from CBS bigwig William S. Paley and NBC honcho David Sarnoff. After midnight, Tim and Walt are still spatting on set, with Walt thinking Tim used Audrey to get to the Old Gold sponsors. Audrey overhears and admits that she asked Ralph to get Old Gold on board since he "owed" her. Meanwhile, Walt tells Joe of Doc's death and lures him back to provide the music for "Our Town." The next day, "Encore Playhouse" finally presents "Our Town." Right before the performance, a nervous Vaughn keels over and Walt is forced to step into his role. Meanwhile, Marion goes to The Colonel to discuss Doc's will, stating that Doc has left him twenty percent of the shares. Marion notes that she and The Colonel are now equal partners in the Empire network. She also tells him of "one smal thing" that she wants. Audrey watches as Empire struggles to complete "Our Town," with Walt and the crew gradually getting their footing. Marion closes the show as the network's Miss Eve, showing a surprising ease in the spotlight. Afterward at the bar, The Colonel and staffers fete Walt's performance, just as Marion agrees to give Royal Flush a full contract. A package then arrives for Tim from Mr. Spelman, giving him the go-ahead for more ads. Finally, Walt convinces Audrey not to move back to Michigan, right before all take part in a toast to Doc and the future of television. Commercials deleted.


  • DATE: October 20, 2002 Sunday 8:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:31:10
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T:72938
  • GENRE: Drama
  • SERIES RUN: TNT - TV, 2002


  • Carol Flint … Executive Producer, Written by
  • John Wells … Executive Producer
  • Paris Barclay … Co-Executive Producer, Director
  • Lewis Abel … Producer
  • Vicki J. Voltarel … Associate Producer
  • Andrew Stearn … Co-Producer
  • Stanley Clarke … Music by
  • Sharif Atkins … Cast, Joe Royal
  • Dylan Baker … Cast, Robert "The Colonel" Sloan
  • Christina Hendricks … Cast, Audrey Drummond
  • Shane Mikael Johnson … Cast, Tim Wilkison
  • Molly Ringwald … Cast, Marion Powers
  • Michael B. Silver … Cast, Walt Kaplan
  • Christopher Lloyd … Cast, Doc Powers
  • De Lancie, John … Cast, Vaughn Clay
  • Dwayne L. Barnes … Cast, Stuff
  • Nicolas Surovy … Cast, Mr. Spelman
  • Lizette Carrion … Cast, Lorraine Royal
  • Dakin Matthews … Cast, R.T. Sloan, Sr.
  • Lisa Darr … Cast, Actress playing Hedda
  • John Vickery … Cast, Actor playing Judge Brack
  • John Byner … Cast, Ed Wynn
  • Jane Lynch … Cast, Miss Rush
  • Dylan Haggerty … Cast, Tech Director
  • Elaine Hendrix … Cast, Fleur Announcer
  • Angela Shelton … Cast, Gladys
  • Susan Yeagley … Cast, Nelle, Miss Eve #1
  • Pat Healy … Cast, Burlingame
  • Ronald Bruner … Cast, Skins
  • Jake Fritz … Cast, Fenton Spelman
  • Victor McCay … Cast, Ibsen Director
  • Eydie Alyson … Cast, Ibsen Script Girl
  • David O'Donnell … Cast, George
  • Mary Kay Wulf … Cast, Mrs. Gibbs
  • Austin Tichenor … Cast, Actor playing Tesman
  • Joel Leder … Cast, Scott
  • Gabby Anderman … Cast, Another Miss Eve
  • Gildart Jackson … Cast, Clive
  • Pete Gardner … Cast, Announcer
  • Mario Piccirillo … Cast, Lobby Attendant
  • Robyn Pedretti … Cast, Potential Miss Eve
  • Eric Rutherford … Cast, Paramedic
  • Marc Goldsmith … Cast, Engineer
  • Henrik Ibsen
  • William S. Paley
  • David Sarnoff
  • Thornton Wilder
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