Krantz's `I'll Take Manhattan' as TV miniseries

I'll Take Manhattan CBS, Sunday through Wednesday, 9-11 p.m. Stars: Valerie Bertinelli, Barry Bostwick, Francesca Annis, Perry King, Jane Kaczmarek, Jack Scalia. Writers: Sherman Yellen and Diana Gould, based on the novel by Judith Krantz. Directors: Douglas Hickox and Richard Michaels. Producer: Stan Kallis for Steve Krantz Productions. Just when you thought it was safe to turn on the TV set without barging into one of the 14 hours of ``Amerika,'' CBS has baited the dials with eight hours of ``I'll Take Manhattan.''

True, it's not as tediously pretentious as ``Amerika''; it turns out to be tediously unpretentious, instead.

Based on the best-selling Judith Krantz potboiler about the magazine publishing business and the ogres who dominate one such family-controlled organization, ``I'll Take Manhattan'' is full of career tips and sexual innuendo, most often managing to combine the two as explicitly as the censors and dramatic plausibility permit. The costumes, sets, and locations are fine, as is the cast. Except for childlike Valerie Bertinelli, who plays her unbelievable role as a kind of editorial femme fatale with such unrelenting unbelievability that the characterization isn't successful for one moment. Miss Bertinelli manages only to look pretty and, while that is an accomplishment, it is simply not enough in an eight-hour miniseries that needs lots of help.

If you watch all eight hours of ``I'll Take Manhattan,'' you will learn more than you ever wanted to know about the private and public and business peccadilloes of the Amberville family of publishers - in flashbacks, flashforwards, and the present. You will often be bored, but every now and then there will be a scene that will tickle your funny bone or outrage your sensibilities.

``I'll Take Manhattan'' is every bit as good as the novel on which it is based. If you, dear reader, consider that to be unfair criticism, then so be it.

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