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When GRAPEVINE, a new romantic comedy, premieres next Monday (2/28), astute viewers will be keeping a close watch on the guest stars, who, if history is a guide, may soon be starring in shows of their own. Guests from the show's first incarnation on CBS in 1992 included a number of actors who went on to be stars in their own right. They included Terry Farrell of BECKER, Courtney Thorne-Smith of ALLY McBEAL, Dean Cain of LOIS AND CLARK: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, Patrick Warburton of SEINFELD, Mariska Hargitay of LAW AND ORDER: SVU and Paula Marshall of SNOOPS.

(Courtesy of Club CBS from



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Posted at 11:52 a.m. PST Wednesday, February 16, 2000

Series idea bears fruit

It took eight years for `Grapevine' to get series slot

Gannett News Service

Premieres 9:30 p.m. PT Monday, then moves to 8:30 p.m. PT Monday starting March 6 Ch. 5 Ch. 46 (CBS)

Kristy Swanson plays Susan, an executive for a cruise line, in CBS' new series ``Grapevine.''


WHEN DAVID Frankel first visited Miami, it was like stepping into an alternate world.

He was a city kid, son of the editor of the New York Times. Now he was visiting his college girlfriend on her turf.

``It seemed like a sleepy tropical paradise,'' Frankel recalls. ``There were all these beautiful pastel hotels, kind of crumbling.''

One thing more: ``It was like a large, open-air nursing home. Old people were everywhere.''

That's ironic. Frankel's ``Grapevine'' premieres at 9:30 p.m. Monday. Set in Miami, it provides a youth movement for CBS.

The show is filled with hot colors, cool people, warm romance and impending sex. ``My 15-year-old daughter said it's the first show she's ever wanted to watch on CBS,'' says network president Leslie Moonves.

That look is something Frank developed during a summer tryout for ``Grapevine,'' eight years ago. It was a time when all the other half-hour shows were taped in front of an audience. CBS didn't order any more episodes.

``I've been begging for eight years,'' Frankel says. ``I've gone through three network presidents in trying to revive this show.''

Then everything changed. Standard sitcoms drooped; flashy filmed ones -- from HBO's ``Sex and the City'' to Fox's ``Malcolm in the Middle'' -- soared. ``Grapevine'' was welcome again.


From left, George Eads, Steven Eckholdt, Kristy Swanson and David Sutcliffe of ``Grapevine.''


During the eight-year delay, there have been changes in Miami (a lot younger), CBS (a little hipper) and the Frankel brothers.

David Frankel is now married to that college girlfriend, and they live in Miami. ``I'm one of the few who really goes to work in his back yard,'' he says.

Jon Frankel has had a more-varied love life. When he was a Miami sportscaster, he acquired the nickname ``Thumper.'' These days, Jon is a newsman (national correspondent for CBS's ``The Early Show'') and more settled. Still, the return of ``Grapevine'' helps recall his old ways.

The show centers on two Miami brothers, David (a restaurateur and sensitive guy) and Thumper (a sportscaster and relentless bachelor). ``Thumper is inspired by my brother eight years ago, not now,'' David Frankel cautions.

Susan, a beautiful cruise line executive, and Matt, a newly divorced hotel manager, join them. Through the gossip grapevine, they view complex romance.

This is a show filled with beautiful settings and beautiful people.

Steven Eckholdt was Thumper in the original version. Now (fresh from the canceled comedy ``It's Like, You Know . . .''), he moves over to play David. ``I'm too old to play Thumper,'' he says.

That role now goes to George Eads, who played a handsome heel on ``Savannah.'' When he met Jon Frankel, he says, he was struck by the resemblance. ``It's uncanny.''

David Sutcliffe, whose ``Cold Feet'' was canceled almost instantly, is Matt. Kristy Swanson of ``Early Edition'' is Susan.

``She just has a wonderful, sexy, girl-next-door quality,'' Frankel says of Swanson. ``The heart of the show is romance.''

Then again, the real keys to the show might be Miami and Frankel.

He first met the then-sagging city 20 years ago. Then the South Beach revival turned things younger and hipper.

That's when Frankel suggested a show be filmed there. `` `Miami Vice' had just ended,'' he says. ``There was some perception of what could be done here.'' But his show didn't look or feel like anything else on the air. CBS let it die.

Frankel made a Sarah Jessica Parker movie called ``Miami Rhapsody.'' He did a pilot for a Bebe Neuwirth show, ``Dear Diary.''

The movie flopped, and the pilot was rejected. Still, that failed pilot won the 1997 Academy Award for best short subject.

Frankel's reaction? In his acceptance speech, he said ``Dear Diary'' proves the networks are willing to make something fresh and different. ``They just won't air it,'' he said.

Then other shows offered similar touches. In some ways, HBO's ``Sex in the City'' looks like a collection of Frankel elements -- a filmed half-hour of romance and gossip in beautiful settings, with Parker as the star.

``I'm really happy for her,'' Frankel says. ``We're friends for life, and that show has all of the things she loves.''

Her show prospered, while Frankel worked to get ``Grapevine'' back on the air.

The original version was close to an anthology, Frankel grants. The new one will be different, for now. ``The first six episodes are focused on the regular characters.''

After the opener, the other five will air at 8:30 p.m. Mondays. In a night of standard sitcoms, CBS will have a brief burst of Miami heat.

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