Subject: Patrick Stewart In Whale Of A
Wed, 9 Oct 96 11:34:00 GMT

Patrick Stewart In Whale Of A Deal

    By Michael Fleming
     NEW YORK (Variety) - Though he's best known for playing
Captain Picard in the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" series
and movies, Patrick Stewart has landed the captain role he's
pined for his entire career.
     Stewart has agreed to star as Captain Ahab in "Moby Dick",
a four-hour miniseries that Hallmark Entertainment will produce
next year. Hallmark is ready to harpoon a major director, with
Simon Wincer looming likely, sources said.
     Robert Halmi Sr. will serve as exec producer on the USA
Network mini. The $12 million-$15 million budget makes it one of
the pricier recent miniseries, and certainly the most expensive
original to air on USA.
     "The character of Ahab is as close to Shakespeare as one
can get, and I've gotten one of the great Shakespearean actors
to do it," Halmi said. "Very few people in America realize his
range because he's spent seven years in a role that, while
commercial and splendid, doesn't nearly show his capability as
an actor."
     The script was adapted by Benedick Fitzgerald, who scripted
Halmi's four-hour CBS miniseries adaptation of Truman Capote's
"In Cold Blood", starring Anthony Edwards and Eric Roberts.
     The Herman Melville classic has been made into two features,
with John Barrymore playing Ahab in 1930 and Gregory Peck in
1956. Though there have been talks of another feature with a
giant star, Halmi feels only a miniseries will do justice to
Ahab's lifelong search for the white whale that took his leg.
     "This is going to be greater than any of the movies done,
because of the effects with the whaling scenes," he said. "And
how the hell can you do Melville justice in two hours? TV is the
wonderful medium because you can spend four hours on something
that deserves four hours."
     Stewart, who will play Picard in the feature "Star Trek:
First Contact", which opens Nov. 22, is about to begin his
first studio villain role, alongside Mel Gibson and Julia
Roberts in the Richard Donner-directed "The Conspiracy
     He'll then squeeze in his stage version of "A Christmas
Carol" at the James Doolittle Theater in L.A., and star in the
BBC film "Dad Savage" early next year before chasing the white
whale in May. Stewart's deal was made by ICM's Steve Dontanville
and attorney Cliff Gilbert.