Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Emmys Due All around for `the Heidi Chronicles'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Emmys Due All around for `the Heidi Chronicles'

Article excerpt

PLAYWRIGHT Wendy Wasserstein has already won the Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award. Let's round it out and give her an Emmy for "The Heidi Chronicles," which comes to TV at 7 p.m. Sunday on TNT cable.

No waiting till next September - let's also give an Emmy, right now, to Jamie Lee Curtis, who's nothing short of perfect as heroine Heidi Holland.

Tom Hulce, Peter Friedman, Kim Cattrall and the rest of the stellar supporting cast - Emmys all around.

Wasserstein has adapted her widely loved and much-performed play as only a mother could, with tenderness and a firm hand.

"The Heidi Chronicles" is the bittersweet story of three decades in the life of a modern woman. We're introduced to Heidi in 1965, as an awkward private-school girl who doesn't see the point of a dance until she meets Peter (Hulce), who quickly (and accurately) proclaims them friends for life.

Years tick by and, as Heidi narrates, we find her at Vassar, still with best friend Susan (Cattrall), who reinvents herself regularly to fit the times.

Heidi, though, is always Heidi, an endearing mixture of gawkiness and self-assurance that Curtis captures deftly.

Every era through which Heidi passes looks and sounds just right, whether she's campaigning for Eugene McCarthy in Manchester, N.H., in 1968; losing her virginity to smug Scoop Rosenbaum (Friedman, re-creating his Broadway role); or joining Susan's prototypical feminist group (featuring a hilarious cameo by Julie White of "Grace Under Fire").

She has triumphs, as she becomes a noted art historian and publishes a respected book, and sadness, as Scoop - the man she thought she could fall back on - marries someone else. Life with Heidi, he explains, would have been too hard, because she wanted too much.

"On a scale from one to 10, if you aim for six and get six, everything will work out nicely," he warns her. "But if you aim for 10 in all things and get six, you're going to be very disappointed."

Heidi will be disappointed, he predicts, along with other women of her generation. "The ones who open doors always are."

If the first half of "The Heidi Chronicles" is the sweet part of bittersweet, the second half is the bitter, but almost always still funny.

Heidi finds the choices she has made challenged, her achievements belittled. In my favorite ironic moment, she goes on an interview show with Scoop and Peter to talk about women's progress and finds that she hasn't progressed enough to get a sentence past them.

Every woman around her seems to be pregnant. Susan, who has gone to Hollywood, wants to make her life a TV sitcom. Peter, who has become a pediatrician and come out as a gay man, feels she's lost touch with his reality. She has a midlife crisis in front of a women's group.

The conclusion Heidi reaches was criticized by some women during the play's 18-month run on Broadway. Here, Wasserstein has retained that original ending but added an epilogue, set in 1995, that brings the story more full circle.

She has also trimmed the play to the 90 minutes (plus commercials) allowed by a TV movie format, and opened it up some. But it all remains true to her 1988 vision. Paul Bogart ("Broadway Bound") directs unobtrusively.

Any play is bound to be more magical performed live.

But if you haven't had a chance to see "The Heidi Chronicles" on stage, this is the next best thing. And if you have, it's a chance for a reunion with an old friend.

Judith Krantz's best-sellers, from "Scruples" to "Lovers," are loaded with sex and shopping opportunities, beautiful people and romantic places - in short, they're high on dazzle. …

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