Guide: Long Dazed Journey Into Primetime
—Michael A. Upton
does Pierce Brosnan keep his
cool? As Phileas Fogg, the literally dashing young hero of NBC's
miniseries Around the World in 80 Days (April
16-18), Brosnan travels by boat, train, airship, land schooner,
elephant—and barely breaks a sweat. There
he is in Calcutta (above),
having just rescued a beautiful Indian
princess (played by Julia Nickson, right) from being burned
alive in a Hindu
immolation scene was
piercingly hot for cast and crew It was
actually shot in Thailand
day when the mercury soared to 120 degrees—and that was before they lit
the pyre. When the
filming was over, every one made for the shade. Except for a
hundred Indian extras—and Brosnan.
whom they insisted on teaching some of their
native dances. In exchange. Mr. Cool taught them
how to dance La Bamba.
so cool and calm was John
Hillerman. That's him peering over the palm fronds (right) as Sir
Commarty, one of Fogg's traveling companions. Sir Francis is fretting
going to snatch the princess to safety. What worried Hillerman,
though, was how were they then
ail going to scramble up the back of their
getaway elephant (above left)—without falling and
breaking their necks?
Hillerman and company did it perfectly on the first take. His secret?
could think of is that I only wanted to do this once."
riskier was a scene in which
Fogg's flying machine. Purple Cloud (above), takes off from an
Mediterranean arena First, Fogg, his valet, Passepartout, and Lucette, a comedy French stowaway (played by Arielle
above) were filmed in the gondola as it began to rise.
Next, a stunt pilot went
up alone. He'd just cleared the arena when an unexpected burst of wind
airship crashing back to earth. The pilot walked away unscathed.
"Is this any way to run a
That's what Passepartout (Eric Idle, above) seems to be
asking—and for good
reason. The scene: Nebraska,
where Fogg's train comes under siege by
Indians. Passepartout accidentally
uncouples the locomotive from the passenger cars. Shooting
filmmakers instructed the engineer to be sure to back the engine up to
spot after each take. But each time it
would continue to surge forward, leaving the rest
of the train—and film
crew—further and further behind. "No, no, no! Go back!" the producers
kept shouting. "The train can't go back," the engineer finally told
them. "Why not?" "This train," he
goes in one direction," Welcome to Yugoslavia!
All the producers'
should have been as easy to solve as this one: how to film Lee
in a bathtub - tastefully. The lovely Ms. Remick has a cameo as the
Sarah Bernhardt, the most famous actress in Europe.
And, apparently, the cleanest. An impertinent
and finds the great lady holding court in her ornate iron tub he
averts his gaze. Viewers, of course,
Hence, the great Sarah Bernhardt coverup.
that we are," says producer Renee VaJente, "we decree that bubble
baths were in
in the 1870s." What would author Jules Verne have
of this scene,
which isn't in
novel? We haven't the foggiest.
Brosnan gets around
April 8, 1989
'Steele' goes 'Around the
World in 80 Days' next week
Brosnan hasn't had
the best of times since the rise and fall of TV's Remington Steele. The
cancella-tion in 1986 let him accept the movie role of James Bond; the
tempo-rary resurrection forced him to publicly,
bitterly, give 007 up.
he made ministries like
Noble House and movies — Nomads. The Fourth Protocol, Tqffin, The
which bombed in theaters.
London-raised 35-year-old plans more movies; he expects his wife and
children to live like nomads the next few years, away from their homes
Malibu and London. The family globe
for his newest project.
Around the Worid in 80 Days. The NBC miniseries, in which Brosnan stars
adventurer Phileas Fogg, airs next Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
Around The World In 80 Day seems a gamble. People
are so familiar with the classic which David Niven played
globetrotting English gentleman. Did that worry you?
because a whole
generation hasn't seen it — it doesn't get trucked out like The Sound
I don't think we're treading on hallowed ground; ours is based on the
the film. Our writer, John Gay, has introduced historical
characters like Queen Victoria, Jesse James and Sarah
Bernhardt, which enhances the story.
You obviously had to travel widely.
went around the world in
70 days, actually; that's how long it took to shoot. We started in
moved on to the countryside in England, then Hong Kong, Thailand and
Yugoslavia. We had five locations in each country and three different
But the nucleus
remained me and (co-stars) Peter Ustinov, Eric Idle and
Was it dangerous?
did get a bit hairy. The
zeppelin airship, for one, proved a bit tiresome. We were in it,
scene, when the bloody thing came crashing down, dropping 90 feet
everyone was all right. Then there were the elephants.
You had to ride an elephant?
and once they start
running, you can't stop them. But the worst thing a that happened to my
elephant was that he got stuck in the mud while we were crossing the
in Thailand. He started to sink, slowly, while I was up there,
stranded. So the
director called lunch break, someone brought me lunch and I sat there
So much for your glamorous job. Being a
star is supposed to
have fun, but your movies haven't worked out have they?
they haven't clicked
with the public. You kind of think, "It was my fault, all my fault."
Then you realize that analyzing failure is a real waste of tune.
you gotten over the disappointment of of losing the
James Bond role?
there's still a little
feeling of... what would it have been like? The whole escapade was
tedious and hurtful and painful.
What would your Bond be
would have had humor. You
have to have humor in what you do, some wiggle in your work. And that's
direction I'm going in now: light, sophisticated comedy. I'm shooting a
movie for HBO, The Heist, that's very tongue-in-cheek. One picture that
producing and will star in (for 1990) is a Cary Grant picture, The
probably will solidify your image as a handsome guy
with a light comic touch ...like Cary Grant.
was only one Cary
Grant But I realize I have a certain style and audience from Remington Steele. So instead of
doing obscure films,
I figure I should pick something people want to see. That's exactly
N.Y. Times: Solid Casting
Keep This Phileas Fogg Aloft
By John J. O'Connor
Produced by Mike Todd, one of the more irrepressible hucksters in
show-business annals, the 1956 film version of ''Around the World in 80
won a number of Academy Awards, including one for best picture, one for
Young's score and another for best script. S. J. Perelman was among the
Produced by Mike Todd, one of the more irrepressible hucksters in
annals, the 1956 film version of ''Around the World in 80 Days'' won a
of Academy Awards, including one for best picture, one for Victor
and another for best script. S. J. Perelman was among the writers. I
right here that I found the all-star extravaganza, running for nearly
hours, a monumental bore, its elbow-in-the-ribs spoofing generally
spectacle of sniffy David Niven being seduced by Shirley MacLaine's
Indian princess had its obvious limitations. So, the prospect of still
''Around the World in 80 Days'' being produced for television was
less than invigorating.
But . . . .
NBC's ''Around the World in 80 Days'' lasts six hours - all right, five
without the commercials. It is being broadcast in two-hour installments
three consecutive nights, beginning this evening at 9. Adapted by John
(''Fatal Vision'') and directed by Buzz Kulik, this version of the
novel - filmed handsomely on locations in England, Macao, Hong Kong,
and Yugoslavia - has decided to opt for integrity and stick close to
original source. Considered by many to be the father of modern science
the French writer Verne (1828-1905) managed to transmute his keen
science and geography into a series of very successful adventure
''Five Weeks in a Balloon,'' ''A Journey to the Center of the Earth,''
Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.'' Published in 1873, his now best-known
originally appeared in English as ''The Tour of the World in Eighty
This television version has one fairly consistent virtue. It assumes
Verne story is something more than a glitzy vehicle for guest-star
not that there aren't an unusual quota of ''special appearances.'' Lee
pops up as the great actress Sarah Bernhardt, complete with a
accent. Robert Wagner puts in an appearance so brief that one can only
the pay was irresistible. And the supporting roles are filled by names
from distinguished - Sir John Mills and Robert Morley - to reasonably
- John Hillerman, James B. Sikking and Jill St. John.
But now for the good news. Pierce Brosnan (''Remington Steele'') plays
Fogg in a slyly attractive manner that makes it easy to see why this
actor was once a top candidate to become James Bond. Handsome, almost
Mr. Brosnan takes the clever approach of ignoring his looks and, with a
the direction of Cary Grant, showing with considerable charm that he
afraid to look silly. The aristocratic Phileas is, after all, very much
cold fish, the finicky perfectionist who will no doubt do tomorrow what
done today. Headwaiters can set their watches by his arrival and
Finding himself falling in love, the emotionally crippled Fogg works
into a tizzy to confess: ''If I may say so, you are quite remarkable.''
without compromising for an instant, comes up with a Fogg who is
yet always appealing.
Then there are the other principal players. Eric Idle, once one of the
''Monty Python'' players, employs a very thick French accent to tackle
character of Jean Passepartout, the servant who is willing to put up
Fogg's idiosyncrasies and even accompany him on the demanding
trip that has grown out of a gentlemanly bet made at London's exclusive
Club. Passepartout proves so loyal and useful that Fogg eventually
an uncharacteristic spurt of feeling: ''I have found your service
and I would recommend you to anyone.''
As for the Indian princess, the one Fogg saves from death in a suttee
ritual, Aouda is depicted here by Julia Nickson (''Noble House''). Far
being a caricature in the style of Ms. MacLaine, this Aouda is as
and intelligent as she is beautiful. In Hong Kong, she wonders aloud to
about ''the English practice of invading and occupying countries other
their own.'' With her own strange melancholy, she is the perfect object
Fogg's accelerating affections, making all the nearly-kissing,
nearly-declaring-one's-love scenes perfectly acceptable.
Steadily supporting the core trio of Fogg, Aouda and Passepartout is
problematical character of Detective Fix, hired by the Bank of England
arrest Fogg as the primary suspect in a bank theft. Stumbling after,
eventually with, Fogg on his world travels, Fix is portrayed by Peter
who, unlike Mr. Idle, invariably goes for the broadest of brush
Ustinov seems determined to make the rest of the cast, even the
crews, collapse in giggles. With the singular exception of Mr. Morley,
offers a performance that would not have been out of place in Mike
There is still in ''Around the World in 80 Days'' the element of Verne
anticipating some of the 20th-century's scientific and technological
Clumsily getting across the Alps in a hot-air balloon prepares us,
for the inevitable appearance of Concordes and spaceships. The whole
idea of 80
days being an accomplishment sets the stage for further advancements.
historical details are not likely to mean much in an age when
students reportedly place Nicaragua, if they've heard of it at all,
What still holds this romance together is not the plot, which is
improbable twists. It's the character of Fogg, always pushing forward
the obstacles and finally realizing that his life has been a total
he has become little more than a punctual machine. His ultimate
''There has to be more to life than membership in the Reform Club.''
And it's precisely here that this production, and Mr. Brosnan, succeed
York Magazine: Golden Globe
By: John Leonard
remake of Around the World in 80 Days usually
enjoys itself, and so did I. The production is handsome..."
ABSOLUTELY FAIR TO THE
MINI-SERIES remake of Around the World in 80 Days
through Tuesday. April
16 through 18; 9 to 11 P.M.; NBC), a more conscientious reviewer would
have rented Mike Todd's original 1956 Hollywood version and reread the
lutes Verne novel. Bui then there wouldn't have been lime to eat or
have David Niven,
Pierce Brosnan seems to me to be just dandy as Phileas Fogg, the
whist-playing and sexually repressed English gentleman who wagers a
fortune at the Reform Club in 1672 on his ability to circle the globe
in less than three months. "The unforeseen does not exist," he
says. And "Poetry has never appealed to me." And "I've never
given politics much thought." Brosnan has recovered his Remington
Steele sense of humor, his lean and sneaky charm, that capacity for
well-bred grace in the face of lowbred surprise that was beaten out of
him in the heavy-breathing Noble House.
valet/Sancho Panza, Eric Idle is an improvement on Cantinflas. Idle, of
course, is best known as one of Monty Python's Flying Circus. He is
making fun of Peter Sellers making fun of Inspector Clouseau in the
Pink Panther series. At one point, he refers to a bird as a
"see-ah-goll." At another, as if in homage to the sexual-gluttony scene
in Tom Jones, he drinks himself insensible with Peter Ustinov—who's
much better as the detective Fix than he ever was as Hercule Poirot.
and who seems to aspire to be Charles Laughton. I couldn't understand a
never be another
Shirley MacLaine, but Julia Nickson is lovely as the lovelorn Indian
princess Aouda, rescued by Fogg and Passepartout from a brouhaha of
Brahmans who want to barbecue her just because her husband is dead. And
she gets to make Salman Rush-die jokes about the British empire. For
in-stance, when Fogg has a problem eating pigeon: "I've heard that the
palate of the English is not very adventurous, unlike your foreign
as in Around the
World with Mike Todd, half the fun is spotting the cameos. Lee Remick
is wonderfully wicked as Sarah Bernhardt. Robert Morley and Roddy
McDowall are unlikely bankers who think that Fogg has left town with
their money and send Ustinov lumbering after him. Patrick Macnee. who
was John Steed in The Avengers and who would've made a fine Fogg
himself, is one of the Reform Club bettors. Jack Klugman, Henry Gibson,
John Hillerman, Darren McGavin. Christopher Lee. Pernell Roberts, James
B. Sikking, and Sir John Mills all show up. In a very inside joke.
Robert Wagner and Jill St. John arc mistaken in Hong Kong for Brosnan
and Nickson, and briefly arrested.
Around depends on a
shuffling of stereotypes. By channel boat, hot-air balloon, leaky
freighter, wild-West locomotive, elephant, and rickshaw, Fogg and
Passepartout discover that the Paris Commune is a laughing matter,
Italians are in dress rehearsal for a Mussolini operetta, Indians are
thuggees. Burmese are pirates, and Americans are Jesse lames. But they
themselves are stereotypes and therefore forgivable. The mini-series is
an equal-opportunity offender. In trouble in Burma, Fogg and
Passepartout are saved by British redcoats. In trouble in the wild
West, they're saved by U.S. cavalry bluecoats. (Jules Verne wasn't
Victor Hugo.) In trouble with the calendar, they're saved by the
international date line.
(six hours), so
was Todd's (167 minutes). If it's pointless, like the novel and the
Todd, at least it usually en-joys itself, and so did I. John Gay's
screen-play is part Verne, part Todd, all breezy. Buzz Kulik (Brian's
Song) directs with a light touch. The production is handsome and
expensive, filmed on location in England, Macao, Hong Kong, Thailand,
and Yugoslavia. I particularly liked the Purple Cloud balloon and the
elephants. But what it should have been is a musical—even if. like
Dennis Potter, it had used somebody else's music. That would have been
television to enchant instead of, however agreeably, to distract.