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LOS ANGELES -- To CBS' considerable surprise, if not downright consternation, Tina Sinatra yesterday chose controversial author Abby Mann to write the script for the upcoming six-hour CBS mini-series to be based on the life of her father, Frank Sinatra . . .
Tina is the executive producer of the Warner Bros. TV production, which is scheduled to air on CBS during the 1986-87 season. A spokesman for Warner Bros. TV said yesterday that Mann's relationship with the senior Sinatra goes back "at least to 1968, when he wrote the screenplay for Frank's movie 'The Detective' " . . .
Mann, of course, was the author of the highly controversial "Atlanta Child Murders" mini-series, which caused CBS so much grief earlier this year that top brass subsequently ordered the rules for docudramas rewritten, considerably narrowing the liberties writers can take with historical facts, particularly in the realm of contemporary issues and personalities . . .
In his script Mann, unlike the Georgia courts, had concluded that Wayne Williams, the convicted murderer in two Atlanta killings, had been somehow railroaded and implied that he was innocent . . .
That conclusion managed to anger Atlanta officials, grieving parents of many of the murdered children and of course the CBS executives who bore the brunt of the widespread public criticism . . .
The docudrama is a peculiar TV form anyway in which carefully selected historical facts are bent, usually as honestly as possible, into a pleasing dramatic shape that has an unhistorical beginning, middle and end . . .
The assignment of Mann to write Frank Sinatra's colorful private and public life (which is getting an outing this very week in "Doonesbury") had CBS executives buzzing yesterday . . . They pointed out that the choice was Tina Sinatra's and Warner Bros. TV's, but you can bet CBS will be looking at this particular script very carefully . . . Moving Right Along
NBC's favorite new series -- "The Golden Girls" -- quickly became visiting TV writers' favorite new series when they saw it this week . . .
And for the usual reason that TV writers fall for a new series -- the presence of a couple of smutty (read: daring) lines from writer/creator Susan Harris and the presence of Bea Arthur and Betty White in the cast . . . Most TV writers have never gotten over either "Maude" or "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" . . .
"The humorous lifestyles of four independent women spending their golden years together in Miami, Fla.," have already wowed the network affiliates, although they didn't get to hear (as the TV writers did) 80-year-old Estelle Getty call Rue McClanahan's husband-to-be "a douche bag" . . .
That will become "scuzzball" on the network next fall . . .
The jokes come very fast on "Golden Girls." Bea Arthur explains how she lost her husband of 38 years when he met a young stewardess on a flight to Hawaii:
When the plane landed "they said, 'Give the passengers a lei'; she got confused; he got lucky; and now they're living in Maui" . . .
Getty (who plays Arthur's mother), during a discussion of weak night-time bladders:
She isn't bothered, she says, "I'm like clockwork. Every morning at 7 a.m., I pee. Unfortunately, I don't wake up until 8" . . . (and they wonder why vaudeville folded 60 years ago!!) . . .
Well, the critics loved it and yesterday when the four women appeared for a press conference here it was a Love-In . . .
(The four women had a lot of fun doing their own thing. When Betty White was asked if the TV public will go for a series about older women she said, "Well, remember, the public has grown up with all of us" . . .
To which Bea Arthur shot back, "With you, dear." . . .
Audiences may not like it (I suspect they will) but all the TV reviews will be golden next fall . . . Poolside Potpourri
CBS News' "West 57th Street" has signed Tom Yellen as a senior producer . . .
He jumps from "ABC World News Tonight," where he was one of nine senior producers and highly regarded . . .
Tom's bail-out, some insiders believe, is due to the fact that ABC News refused to consider an idea for a magazine show he had been pushing . . .
CBS Entertainment President B. Donald (Bud) Grant's reaction when a reporter told him that Home Box Office has selected Dabney Coleman to play William Paley in an upcoming movie about Ed Murrow:
"WHO?" . . .
And from our one down, one to go file: WTTW, the Chicago PBS station, has replaced Neal Gabler on the TV film show "Sneak Previews" . . .
Michael Medved, author of "Hollywood's Hall of Shame," will join holdover cohost Jeffrey Lyons next fall . . .
(PBS stations have never been too high on the Gabler-Lyons team since Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel went commerical with their "At the Movies" syndicated show) . . .
We told you Monday that NBC chairman and chief executive officer Grant Tinker had been given the first annual Television Critics Association "career achievement" award . . .
In response to absolutely no requests whatsoever, here's the rest of the TCA winners, announced here Sunday without even an "Entertainment Tonight" camera crew in attendance . . .
Best Drama of the Year: "The Jewel in the Crown" . . .
Comedy: "The Cosby Show"
Special: "The Burning Bed" . . .
News and Information: Ted Koppel
Children's Programs: "Fairie Tale Theater"
Program of the Year: "The Jewel in the Crown" . . .
About 100 TV writers from newspapers around the country balloted in what they hope will be an annual event . . .