TV Weekend; The Case of the Missing News Star
Article taken from the New York Times.
The television film ”Money, Power, Murder,” on CBS at 9 P.M. Sunday, offers as its hero Peter Finley, an Irish-American cable-channel reporter who was obviously weaned on early James Cagney movies.
The type seems to be enjoying a revival these days. Witness this year’s NBC movie ”Shannon’s Deal,” created by the film maker John Sayles and now scheduled to become a weekly series in March. Perhaps it has something to do with Tom Wolfe, who, in his novel ”Bonfire of the Vanities” found that certain Irish-Americans were probably the least corruptible citizens on the contemporary urban landscape. Or possibly it’s just that Cagney never goes out of style.
In any event, Finley is being played with consummate New York cockiness by Kevin Dobson, who came to television fame as Kojak’s sidekick and then as a principal on ”Knot’s Landing.” If nothing else, he seems to have a fuller head of hair these days. ”Money, Power, Murder” – adapted by Mike Lupica, a sports columnist for The Daily News, from his novel ”Dead Air” – is a Dobson vehicle, keeping the star front and center in just about every scene. As added insurance, the executive producer is Susan Dobson, his wife.
Mr. Lupica provides enough plot for at least two or three average crime capers. The film, directed by Lee Philips, starts with the disappearance of Peggy Lynn Brady (Julianne Moore), star anchor for the Global Broadcasting Company, a giant network. Climbing her way to the top, Peggy has left behind a trail of used lovers, one of whom happens to be Finley. A former colleague pithily describes her as ruthless, cold-blooded and dumb.
In no time at all, Finley the investigative reporter is involved with an odd little man (Paul McCrane) who claims to be Peggy’s first husband; a gay Broadway producer (Tony Shalhoub) bearing a calculated resemblance to Michael Bennett; a television producer (Dion Anderson) viciously dumped by Peggy; the president of Global (Anthony Herrera) who once starred in porno movies, and a television evangelist (John Cullum) negotiating to buy Global for the propagation of his ministry.
On the fringes are Finley’s estranged but still loving wife (Blythe Danner) and his father (Josef Sommer), a policeman who’s retired but still lively, both of whom seem somewhat out of place in the reporter’s dese-and-dose world. All of which leaves Finley free to roam about the city – the film was shot entirely in New York – getting into fistfights, leaving beautiful women impressed and being incorrigibly flip. ”Are you a Christian, Mr. Finley?” asks the evangelist. ”Dodger fan, actually,” Finley suavely replies. Or there’s the beautiful woman who insists that she has been saved and born again. ”Were your clothes on or off at the time?” Finley asks.
Periodically, someone stops to make an observation clearly intended to give the entire exercise a touch of cosmic significance. One passing perception: ”You think television is about changing the world? It’s about make-believe.” Despite this sort of blather, however, Mr. Dobson does well by Finley. He’s lively company, at least for the space of a television movie.