This made-for-television production is about a screenwriter diagnosed with lung cancer and his chain-smoking writing partner and best friend. The program begins by showing how Walter Farmer is a health freak, eating right, exercising, and taking care of himself. Walter arrives at the home of buddy Artie Margulies for the day's work. Walter reveals that his annual physical showed that he has lung cancer, with a prognosis of six months. Artie's wife Marie thinks that her husband's lifetime of smoking is what gave Walter cancer. Artie denies that second-hand smoke is the culprit, citing his own good health, as well as Marie's. Walter tells his longtime girlfriend Amanda that he feels "lousy and incomplete." Later, Walter asks his psychiatrist how most terminal patients spend their final days. He admits that he's in denial. At the studio trying to track down Walter, Amanda meets Burt Tipton, a prop man who discusses Walter and Artie's partnership. He tells Amanda that Walter just visited him to borrow a gun. Later, Amanda, Artie, and Marie try to figure out where Walter is. Then, Artie questions Amanda on why she and Walter have never married. Just then, Walter arrives at Artie's home. The next day, Artie goes to Walter's therapist to discuss how the cancer diagnosis has been affecting him. Artie mentions his concern that Walter may commit suicide, especially since he just borrowed a gun. Artie calls Amanda, discussing how the doctor has freaked him out. Meanwhile, Amanda has secretly followed Artie to a gun store where he may be buying bullets. After Artie leaves the store, Amanda continues to tail him. Back at his house, Artie gets his laundry and speeds away. Amanda sneaks into Artie's home and finds his gun, accidentally firing it. She puts it in her purse and takes it away. Later, Amanda tracks Walter to an antique toy store, after which she and Artie speculate on the purpose of Walter's latest errand. That night, Walter arrives at Artie's house, revealing that Amanda fired his gun earlier. Artie tries to have a heart-to-heart talk with Walter, asking him why he borrowed a gun and bought some bullets. Then, Walter opens his briefcase and pulls out the gun, inferring that he is about to execute Artie for his years of smoking in his presence. Walter forces Artie to give him his cigarettes before revealing that the weapon is just a water gun. Artie is furious that Walter set him up with a scam. Walter tells Artie that the whole charade was to get him off cigarettes. That night, Artie sneaks out of bed to search for any cigarettes, finally finding a half-smoked one. He then discovers that Walter planted a cigarette carton in Artie's kitchen with Marie's help, containing anti-smoking brochures. Marie wanders into the kitchen and sees Artie, who doesn't know why the cancer-ridden Walter is having so much fun at his expense. Later, Walter goes in for his first dose of radiation, accompanied by Artie. Then, Walter goes to his Alcoholics Anonymous group, which doesn't know about his disease, and celebrates his ninth anniversary of being sober. Walter praises his group for helping him survive over the years. Afterward, Walter and Artie discuss their relationship as they head to the cemetery to check out Walter's plot. Then, Walter tries an empty grave "on for size," at least until the funeral party arrives and finds him lying with Artie in the freshly dug hole. Eventually, Walter goes in to get a second opinion from a doctor who was once engaged to Amanda. The doctor assumes that Walter came for a different reason: to announce that Amanda will soon be available. Meanwhile, Artie struggles without his cigarettes. Later, Walter goes to teach a creative writing group to prisoners. After the session, Walter collapses and inmate David Sokalow realizes that Walter is sick. The next day, Artie finally purchases his own cigarettes, but just as he is about to smoke one, Walter catches him from across the parking lot. That afternoon, Amanda comes home to find Walter revisiting his and Artie's old movies. Amanda questions Walter on why he visited with her ex-boyfriend. The next morning, Artie finds a package at the end of his driveway, a script from David, which Walter arranged to have sent to him. Meanwhile, Walter visits his ex-wife Helene, who says she won't tell their son, young Walter Jr., about his condition. Walter reveals that he's leaving his wealth to a minority writers scholarship fund at USC. Then, Walter Jr. comes home and is pleased to see his father. Later, Walter gives Helene a letter to present to his son after his death. Helene refuses to pass on the letter to the boy, forcing Walter to deliver the sentiments in person. Later, Artie tells Walter how much he enjoyed David's script. Then, Walter takes an upset Artie to a nursing home to see his mentally unstable ex-wife, Carolyn. Walter insists to Carolyn, who rarely has any visitors, that Artie will begin checking in more often. Later, Walter goes looking for his estranged younger brother Franklin, but finds that he has died. He meets Franklin's wife Denise, who remains bitter about Walter having abandoned Frank long ago and replacing him with Artie. After Walter tells Denise of his condition, however, the two strike a tentative truce. He also promises to talk to Frank and Denise's daughter, an aspiring film student at USC. One day, some police officers arrive to speak with Walter about David. The police inform Walter that David tried to rob a bank that day, despite the fact that he was just released from prison and had a meeting with both Walter and Artie. Walter is shocked at David about blowing his opportunity for a new life. Walter explains to a bewildered Artie that he was setting David up to be his replacement, thinking Artie would need stimulation to write following the funeral. Artie discusses how his father was a smoker, revealing how much of a struggle it is for him to kick nicotine. Artie realizes that he is just like his father. Then, after Artie lights up a cigarette, Walter pushes his friend into the swimming pool. After Walter rescues Artie -- who can't swim -- from the pool, Artie asks that his friend record some private thoughts for him. Walter refuses, wanting to say them face-to-face, despite the fact that Artie thinks it will be awkward. Artie cries, not knowing what he will do without Walter and they fall asleep in each other's arms. Finally, Walter, Amanda, Artie, and Marie go on a picnic, focusing on their good memories and trying to appreciate the limited time they have left together. Includes commercials. Also includes an "ABC News Brief" with Jeanne Meserve.


  • DATE: April 15, 1991 Monday 9:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:57:27
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T:20848
  • GENRE: Drama
  • SERIES RUN: ABC - TV, 1991
  • COMMERCIALS: TV - Commercials - Delta airlines^TV - Commercials - Acura automobiles^TV - Commercials - Wrigley's Spearmint gum^TV - Commercials - Arrid deodorant^TV - Commercials - Royal Carribean cruises^TV - Commercials - Kellogg's Cinnamon Mini Buns cereal^TV - Commercials - General Mills Triples cereal^TV - Commercials - Oldsmobile automobiles^TV - Commercials - Saran Wrap^TV - Commercials - Bounce static remover^TV - Commercials - Points of Light Foundation^TV - Commercials - Clarion lipstick^TV - Commercials - Saturn automobiles^TV - Commercials - Vidal Sassoon hair care^TV - Commercials - Tide detergent^TV - Commercials - Great Western Bank^TV - Commercials - Chevrolet automobiles^TV - Commercials - Excedrin pain reliever^TV - Commercials - Orville Redenbacher's popcorn^TV - Commercials - Ford automobiles^TV - Commercials - Snuggle fabric softener^TV - Commercials - Gyne-Lotrimin vaginal cream^TV - Commercials - Wendy's restaurants^TV - Commercials - Motrin IB pain relief^TV - Commercials - Buick automobiles^TV - Commercials - Beef Industry Council and Beef Board^TV - Commercials - California Jeep and Eagle dealers^TV - Commercials - Bob's Big Boy restaurants^TV - Commercials - Tropicana juices^TV - Commercials - L'eggs Sheer Energy panty hose^TV - Commercials - KFC restaurants^TV - Commercials - Tampax tampons^TV - Commercials - Toyota automobiles^TV - Commercials - Listerine mouthwash^TV - Commercials - Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal^TV - Promos - "Who's the Boss?"^TV - Promos - "Baby Talk"^TV - Promos - "Roseanne"^TV - Promos - "Stat"^TV - Promos - "Gabriel's Fire"^TV - Promos - "A User's Guide to Planet Earth: The American Environment Test"^TV - Promos - "Good Morning America"^TV - Promos - "Nightline"^TV - Promos - "Eyewitness News"^TV - Promos - "The Perfect Tribute"^TV - Promos - "20/20"^TV - Promos - "thirtysomething"^TV - Promos - "Primetime Live"^


    • Robert A. Papazian … Executive Producer
    • James G. Hirsch … Executive Producer
    • William Link … Executive Producer, Writer
    • Glenn Jordan … Producer, Director
    • David Shire … Music by
    • James Woods … Cast, Walter Farmer
    • John Lithgow … Cast, Artie Margulies
    • Joanna Gleason … Cast, Marie Margulies
    • Eve Gordon … Cast, Amanda Freeman
    • Alan Rosenberg … Cast, Psychiatrist
    • Rosemary Dunsmore … Cast, Helene Freeman
    • Albert Hall … Cast, Burt Tipton
    • Rosanna Huffman … Cast, Carolyn Margulies
    • Natalia Nogulich … Cast, Denise Farmer
    • John Vickery … Cast, Dr. Simon
    • Ebbe Roe Smith … Cast, David Sokalow
    • George Wallace … Cast, Ray
    • Jesse Bradford … Cast, Walter Farmer Jr.
    • Alma Martinez … Cast, Therapist
    • Carey Eidel … Cast, Customer
    • Christopher Curry … Cast, Policeman #1
    • Ron Recasner … Cast, Policeman #2
    • Dan Bell … Cast, Felgarez
    • Geoffrey Rivas … Cast, Alteira
    • for "ABC News Brief"
    • Jeanne Meserve … Anchor