"Which one of you bitches is my mother?" Lili asked Judy, Pagan and Maxine in the 1984 No. 1 mini-series 'Lace'.
Shot on location in the French Alps, Paris, London, Spain and New York City between September and December 1983, the $3 million Lorimar production mini-series 'Lace' tied with Part III of 'Master of the Game' on its first night. On its final night 'Lace' was the most watched TV program that week. The first part of 'Lace', 3-hour long, attracted an audience share of 39% and a rating of 28.2% of the 84.9 million TV households in the U.S. at the time. Roughly 23.6 million American homes with TV sets were counted watching. It was noted 'Master of the Game' Part III attracted an audience share of 42%. The 2-hour long 2nd part of 'Lace' attracted a rating of 31.7% (or some 26.6 million TV households in the U.S. were counted watching).
Based on Shirley Conran's blockbusting book, 'Lace' told a story of 3 friends attending an elite finishing school in France. The 3 friends were played by Bess Armstrong (star of 'High Road to China'), Brooke Adams (star of 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers') and French actress Arielle Dombasle. Arielle acknowledged, "I've been in so many incredibly deep, profound movies that are never seen. I've been in many Eric Rohmer films. He is one of the greatest directors we have in Europe and he has tremendous recognition from the critics, but his movies never have such large audiences.
"We actors had a very cynical attitude in front of the script. We'd laugh at some lines and say, 'How can I say that?' and 'Uck' and all that. I asked myself, why does the public like it so much? Because not only Americans liked it. When it went to Mexico, Brazil, Italy, Sweden, Japan, very different countries, it was successful. I think it’s because it makes people dream." Also starring Anthony Higgins as Abdullah, Prince of Sydon.
As one of the 3 friends got pregnant (after going to bed with a banker's son who then told her his life and marriage already had been planned for him), the trio decided to make a pact under which the baby would be put up for adoption until whichever one of the 3 achieved fame and fortune first would then reclaim the baby as her own child.
The baby, Lili, grew up into a world of prostitution, risen to become a pornographic movie superstar before blossoming into a Hollywood movie queen. In 1983, Pia Zadora could be seen in the movie, 'The Lonely Lady'. At the height of her success, Lili was determined to find her long-lost mother to seek revenge for having been abandoned as a baby. Phoebe Cates as Lili recounted, "I didn't think I could bring myself to play such a horrid person. The challenge was to find a more humane side to her character. She believes her own public image – that she's a very bitchy, glamorous sex kitten."
In 1984, Lyndel Rowe played Karen Fox on the Australian TV drama, 'Sons and Daughters'. Lyndel recalled, "Karen's very devious – and sees Patricia as being exactly the same way. She doesn't trust her an inch. One of the nice things about playing Karen is that she's a chameleon-type character: she plays lots of different roles. She puts herself into people's lives, makes herself fit in so that she gets their trust, finds out what she wants, and then uses it and puts in the darts. Karen's very clever in that she does it well, and this is where she has been successful, she doesn't just go in fighting, she plays with people."
In one scene on 'Lace', Judy sighed, "In another 10 years, abortions are going to be performed like appendectomies in proper hospitals by proper doctor." Pagan: "Yes, but for the time being, they’re performed by creepy little men – in filthy little rooms."
Phoebe continued, "I didn't arrive for my role until 3 weeks after filming had begun … The other girls all rallied round to help me get into the part and we rehearsed a lot on our own. Arielle and I have a big fight scene when she throws me out of her elegant French chateau for seducing her son. Arielle and I rehearsed that fight down to the very last detail. We didn’t want anything unforeseen to go wrong. Both of us were wearing intricate dresses for the scene. Mine was an antique lace gown, and we both had elaborate hair styles, so our movements had to be carefully planned so as not to damage the clothes or disarrange our make-up."
On 'Dynasty' that year, Jack Coleman played John Forsythe and Joan Collins' on-screen son, "People are always curious but I think most people have grown up to the point where they don’t assume you are your character any more. Sometimes, it's been a little bit annoying … As long as people appreciate me as an actor and don't start looking at me as some sort of role model then I'm comfortable with it … I happen to be very broad-minded and can accept many different ways of life, but I don't feel that it's my mission to enlighten the world. It's my job to give a good performance, so if people appreciate my performance and what I do with the character then I'm happy to have them as fans."
'Lace II' went on air in May 1985. The sequel explored Lili's search for her father. 'Lace II' attracted around 24% share of the audience, a rating of about 15.3%. Commentator Lynn Hoogenbom made the observation at the time, "If you've read 'Lace', you're probably wondering what all the fuss is about. That book made it quite clear who Lili's father is. But even if you have read the 2 books ('Lace' and 'Lace II'), you won't be that far ahead of everyone else. The plot lines of 'Lace II', the book, and 'Lace II', the mini-series, travel different routes before winding up in the same spot."
The No. 1 mini-series of the 1984-85 season was 'Fatal Vision', attracting some 47% of the TV sets in the U.S. that were turned on at the time 'Fatal Vision' went on air. Grant Tinker of NBC remarked, "Everybody goes for the lowest common denominators. I don’t want us to go that way. We want to keep the path we’re on, and let the chips and the Nielsens fall where they may."