And float back it has. Twelve years after the last episode of the Love Boat--the ABC show that helped make producer Aaron Spelling's name--sailed off Saturday night television, UPN is bringing it back in a newly casted, next-generation incarnation.
And for you purists, who couldn't enjoy a cruise with Capt. Stubing (Gavin MacLeod), Isaac the Bartender (Ted Lange), Doc (Bernie Kopell), Gopher (Fred Grandy), Julie (Lauren Tewes and company without a visit to Fantasy Island (the Spelling show that used to come on right after The Love Boat), ABC is resurrecting that, too.
Spelling will again produce Love Boat, and the show will feature a new crew and contemporary storylines, according to the fledgling network. The new boat will be taken out of drydock sometime in the spring. Shooting is supposed to begin in March.
With Stubing and crew apparently downsized, casting is underway to fill character roles headed by newly divorced Capt. Jim Kennedy III and his rebellious 15-year-old son, Danny.
"This will be what Star Trek: The Next Generation was to the old Star Trek," UPN chief Dean Valentine vowed this week.
For the network, which is abandoning its "urban" market strategy, acquiring The Love Boat may help it reacha broad base of middle Americans, as opposed to the other networks, that, according to Valentine, are trying to program for "psycho-yuppies in Manhattan."
Meanwhile, over at ABC, 14 years after America's favorite subordinate midget, Tattoo (the late Hervé Villechaize), rang his big bell, the new Fantasy Island will air this fall.
Spelling has sold rights to his Island to Columbia TriStar, which in turn installed Men in Black director Barry Sonnenfeld as producer.
No word yet on casting, but Ricardo Montalban, who played the urbane, white-suited wishmaster, Mr. Roarke, would like to come back.
"I don't know that they'll necessarily be using the same people, particularly now that I use a walker," Montalban told TV Guide--the 77-year-old actor had spinal surgery almost five years ago.
"I would have to work with a walker or a wheelchair, which would be kind of more mysterious," he says. "With this character, Roarke, I think it wouldn't be too bad. He's guiding the whole thing with his mind, anyway, not with his body. So I could do it."
Unfortunately, Villechaize, who committed suicide in 1993, won't make de plane.