It’s “Tanner” time. Again.

Satirist Garry Trudeau (“Doonesbury”) and filmmaker Robert Altman are reuniting to create a sequel to their groundbreaking political miniseries, “Tanner ‘88,” for the Sundance Channel, it announced Monday.

“Everybody felt the moment was now, in an election year,” said Sundance programming boss Adam Pincus. “In a lot of ways, nothing has changed, and tons has changed.”

Michael Murphy will reprise his role as Democratic presidential hopeful Jack Tanner, along with “Sex and the City” actress Cynthia Nixon as his daughter and Pamela Reed as his campaign manager.

Production on three 30-minute episodes begins next month, ending in July at the Democratic convention in Boston. The sequel (no title yet) debuts in October.

The idea began percolating in February, when Sundance ran all 11 episodes of the original “Tanner ‘88,” with updated introductions. It created so much buzz and critical acclaim that Sundance quickly pitched a sequel to Trudeau and Altman.

“They loved the idea,” Pincus said. “We knew that a real opportunity had landed right in our laps, and we had to move quickly.”

The new series centers on Nixon’s Alex, now a filmmaker doing a documentary about the rigors of running for president. Tanner is a college history professor; Reed’s TJ Cavanaugh is still in the game.

As with “Tanner ‘88,” which ran on HBO, the series will blend real-life politicos with fictional characters. Its $1 million-plus budget is the largest in Sundance’s eight-year history, said Pincus.

How’s this for deja vu? In ‘88, a Bush (George H.W.) was campaigning for the White House, there was conflict in the Middle East, and the American economy was in flux.

In ‘04, however, “people are more media savvy,” Pincus said. “That may pose production problems for us. They may not want to do a story that doesn’t serve them.”

Producers have approached “fairly high-level people,” mostly Democrats. Pincus won’t name names, but his dream list includes John Kerry, Howard Dean, Bill Clinton and Al Gore. (No Ralph Nader?)

Pincus knows the odds are slim, but he said that Pulitzer Prize-winning Trudeau and Oscar-nominated Altman “are tremendously persuasive. Who knows what they can pull off?”

The goal of “Tanner” remains the same.

“It’s a pointed piece of satire that’s highly entertaining and doesn’t serve a political agenda. We’re probing what it takes to be a politician in this country, and how that, in itself, is a performance.”

No word whether former candidate Tanner will go for a curtain call.



CBS’s “Survivor: All-Stars” finale outwitted, outplayed and outlasted the competition Sunday.

A total of 24.1 million viewers saw Amber Brkich win the $1 million first prize (and a marriage proposal from runner-up Rob Mariano) from 8 to 10 p.m., with 25.0 million for the live reunion show at 10.

Given that it’s sweeps, CBS will squeeze out another hour from its golden goose with “Survivor: America’s Tribal Council” at 8 p.m. Thursday. Jeff Probst hosts.

Another million bucks will be given live to viewers’ favorite among the 16 also-ran castaways, as determined by voting on www.cbs.com. Polls are open until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.



Christine Lahti, whose previous series was CBS’s ‘94-00 “Chicago Hope,” will play the mom in the WB’s new fall drama “Jack & Bobby.”

Originally developed last season, “J&B” revolves around teen brothers, one of whom grows up to be president. The WB insists that the show is not about the Kennedys. (No biggie. Most of WB’s viewers probably have never heard of the brothers.)



(c) 2004, The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-05-10-04 1910EDT



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