If you want to watch one of your movie-purist friends come completely unspooled, suggest that more of the great motion pictures that were shot in black and white should be colorized.

Or suggest that a great movie should be remade entirely.

Or both.

Or just mention Jerry Ludwig.

Ludwig is a 53-year-old movie publicist-turned-screenwriter and producer with a nifty list of credits. His latest project is "Roman Holiday," a re-made-for-TV movie airing Monday on NBC.

As Ludwig tells it, he was moved to remake this film by none other than the late director William Wyler, who filmed the original.

While working as a publicist on the set of Wyler's "The Children's Hour," Ludwig talked at length to the director and to Audrey Hepburn, recalling their previous teaming in "Roman Holiday."

One of the regrets Wyler had about "Holiday," said Ludwig, was that he hadn't shot it in color. "It's Rome," said Ludwig. "It's a city that cries out for color." He wasn't sure why Wyler had shot the film in black and white, but noted that "it was after the war {the movie was filmed in 1952, released in '53} and color stock was still in short supply."

The original "Holiday" gave Hepburn her first major film break. She won an Oscar playing a princess tired of the restraints of royal life who gives her entourage the slip and has an incognito Roman holiday. It includes a romance with reporter Gregory Peck. Eddie Albert, as Peck's photographer-sidekick, records their wholesome fling surreptitiously. Later, he and Peck realize that the pictures are a paparazzi's mother lode.

Ludwig said he hopes fans of the original will find his update fundamentally faithful to the original. There are some changes:

Peck's reporter, played here by the under-appreciated Tom Conti, is given more substance. "He's a reporter, about 40, already suffering burnout," said Ludwig. "It's mentioned that he's been to Beirut ... He's tired and worn out ... There is a chance for mutual help between him and the princess -- she is fresh eyes for him. She too was sort of a dropout, a girl-woman born and bred for those royal responsibilities, who runs away for the world."

In the end, it is Conti, rather than Ed Begley Jr., in the Albert role, who handles the scintillating photographs. "It's left in the leading man's hands to decide what to do with the pictures," said Ludwig.

And when the princess disappears, her father, the king, fittingly for more serious times, flies to Rome to head up an investigation. In the original, there was no king. In neither version do we know what country the princess comes from.

The familiar, favorite sequences of the film are recreated -- such as the motorscooter ride through Rome and Conti's challenge to the fibbing princess, played by Catherine Oxenberg, to put her hand in the mouth of truth. The mouth is part of a large mask and, according to legend, if a liar puts his or her hand into the mouth, it will be bitten off.

While filming the mouth-of-truth sequence, Ludwig discovered the extent of Wyler's own cinematic deception. "We went to the church where the mouth is located," said Ludwig. "It looked bigger on screen {in the Wyler film} than it did in real life." A member of the crew, a boom-man who had also worked on the original, settled the confusion. "He told us Wyler shot that sequence in a studio, not at the church," said Ludwig. "It turns out a surprising amount of the film was shot at the studio."

Wyler's mouth-of-truth mask was found in storage and used again. When the shooting was over, it was given to Ludwig. It's now in the foyer of his Palm Springs condo. "I use it to check on my Hollywood friends," he said.

Ludwig wrote scripts for a number of television series, including "I Spy," "Mission Impossible," "Run for Your Life," and "Hawaii Five-O." He won an Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America for his TV movie "In the Glitter Palace," and he was the executive producer who launched "MacGyver." His novel, Little Boy Lost, was adapted from his script for an Emmy-winning episode of "Police Story."

When Ludwig-the-publicist met Wyler, the director was turning to more serious fare, said Ludwig, and noted that "Roman Holiday" was a product of a more light-hearted time. That link was reflected in the Peck character. "Peck's part ... was a star turn," said Ludwig. "The part was thin in the writing. Peck carried you on his charm and integrity. Wyler said it was only a few years after the war and they were trying to keep it light."

When he asked Wyler how he would remake "Roman Holiday," Ludwig said the director told him he would shoot it in color, deepen the role of the reporter and wait 30 years before redoing the film at all. "You want to wait long enough," Ludwig quoted Wyler, "for them to forget the old movie."