The success of the TV mini-series 'The Winds of War' in 1983 (averaged rating of 38.6% over 18 hours and a 53% share of the audience) gave rise to its sequel 'War And Remembrance' in 1988 and 1989. Based on Herman Wouk's 1978 book, production of the 30-hour sequel began in 1986. At a total cost of $104 million, the first 7 parts went on air in 1988 (but broadcasted over 11 nights) during "the heart of the November sweeps" because the Writers Guild of America had called a 5-month strike against Hollywood which delayed production of regular programing during key periods. The remaining 12 hours, still in post-production in November 1988, did not go on air until May 1989. 

Shot on location in England, France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, the former Yugoslavia, Canada and the U.S. (in California, Hawaii, Florida, Washington and Philadelphia), the 2070-scene mini-series featured 358 actors and 41,720 extras. Dan Curtis adapted the 1042-page book into the 1488-page script requiring 747 sets and resulting in some 2 million feet of film. 

Terry Pace of the 'Times Daily' acknowledged, "The production is unrivaled in size, ambition and pure production values. On the dramatic level, Curtis deserves considerable credit for painting a vivid wartime portrait on his enormous television canvas. The cast is irresistible, the interweaving personal and historical dramas are never less than engrossing, and the attention to detail places the mini-series among the most memorable screen treatments of World War II – the turning point of 20th century civilization." 

After completing 'The Winds of War' project, Dan Curtis conceded, "I just feel blank, with an edge of depression sneaking in, now that it's over. I'm sad that it's over. It's been a part of my life for 4 years. Even though it will be seen by more people than would ever see a feature, in a strange way it doesn't compensate for the fact that it'll only last for a week (7 nights). I'd rather have it in a theater so it could be around for a while."

Jan-Michael Vincent did not see the finished product before it went on air. He told Jay Bobbin, "I'm still in a little bit of a fog about everything, because we did stuff out of sequence. I did read the (898-page) book, but quite a while before we started work on the film." Of his acting, "I'm anticipating some kind of commotion here. I'd just like to have the opportunity to be considered for more diverse roles. That's the most interesting part of the whole thing for me, to see the result and figure out how to best take advantage of it."

On 'The Winds of War', "I listen to what everyone else is saying and just react. I pick up on people's personalities. Ali (MacGraw) has been disciplined in a certain style of working, but I have to roll along in my own free style. In the end, it all adds up and fits the characters. I think the producer-director, Dan Curtis, and everyone else involved cast it incredibly well. Bob Mitchum said he couldn't believe that so many people could work for an entire year together without any feuding or ego problems. That's sort of the reason why I can work off everyone else and get it right."

Jan-Michael also mentioned, "I've never done anything quite on this scale. At the least, it'll probably be seen by everybody in the world! They're even giving college credits at certain schools if the students watch all 18 hours. After being in (the former) Yugoslavia, it's more like being a part of a circus! You forget about the 'star' business real fast, because everybody's camped in the same hotel."

Dan Curtis decided to make the sequel 'War And Remembrance' because, "I said I knew more people would see this ('The Winds of War') than if it was a feature but that didn't mean anything to me. The thought that it would be seen for one week and then be gone was a very depressing thought. But there is no way in the world the experience of the past week (back in February 1983) can be matched. I was absolutely wrong. It was a week when everybody was watching it and talking about it. That was a kick. That was an experience. No feature film in the world can match that."

Herman Wouk told the 'Los Angeles Times' in 1971, "From 1962 to 1965, I read hundreds of thick books. The purpose was to get the grounding for a historical novel which would, in (Joseph) Conrad’s phrase, throw a rope around the Second World War. While serving at sea in the South Pacific in wartime, I had conceived the ambition to write such a novel.

"At the time the full story of the Nazi death camps had not yet sunk in; but these horrors, when I grasped them, strengthened my resolve to comprehend, and one day to portray in fiction, this most stupendous and ghastly of all wars. A quarter of a century later (1946-1971), 'The Winds of War’ is the result … At different times 3 living historians have told me that a single picture of the Second World War was too vast for scholarly presentation; that a novelist would one day have to try it, with his freedoms of elision, telescoping, evoking, and dramatizing."

On 'The Winds of War', John Houseman played Ali MacGraw's on-screen uncle, "I suppose (Dr. Aaron) Jastrow is representative of the intellectuals who thought because they were well-known experts and civilized people they would not be treated as the ghetto Jews. They found they had made a mistake. He thought he was safe in (Il Duce's) Italy because the Italians are a civilized people. And he thought he was safe because he was an American. I left England in 1922 but quite a few of my French Jewish relatives were affected. They were well-to-do French Jews who had never known prejudice before. They went to Auschwitz."

Part I of 'War And Remembrance' attracted a rating of 21.8% of the 90.4 million TV households with televisions and a 31% share of the audience;

Part II attracted a rating of 19.0% and a 29% share of the audience;

Part III attracted a rating of 19.9% and a 31% share of the audience;

Part IV attracted a rating of 16.8% and a 25% share of the audience;

Part V attracted a rating of 17.0% and a 26% share of the audience;

Part VI attracted a rating of 17.5% (about 15.8 million households);

Part VII attracted a rating of 16.9% (about 15.2 million households)

"Audiences are strange," Dan Curtis told Australian journalist Jacqueline Lee Lewes. "Here in the United States, the mini-series over consecutive nights is still the preferred way of screening. Maybe the audience felt let down because the first 19 hours were not always screened on consecutive nights. All I know is that I couldn't have hoped for the project to turn out any better than it has turned out. I don't know why it didn't attract the audience the way that 'Winds of War' did. In my view, it's better than 'Winds of War'. Given the opportunity, I wouldn't go back and change anything."

Tony Masucci of NBC told the 'New York Times' in 1988, "With the fragmentation of the audience, it's harder to get an audience to commit to watching a program for several nights. In 1977, when 'Roots' aired the 3 networks (NBC, CBS and ABC) shared 85 to 90% of the television audience. That is no longer the case (in 1988). The number of independent stations has doubled since then. Cable has increased tremendously, and home video has taken away part of our audience. There is too much competition to expect audiences to stay tuned to one network for 7 nights in a row."

By the end of the 1988-89 season, 'Broadcasting' magazine reported an increase of almost 30% in viewership on cable channels. A.C. Nielsen Co. showed on an average night during the 1988-89 season, less than 70% of prime-time viewers watched the Big Three networks. In order to compete with the pay-cable networks and to stem the flow of viewers to cable, Ron Weiskind informed readers the networks had decided they would be "loosening restrictions" on censored materials such as strong language and nudity.

'War And Remembrance' did well with the 50-plus audiences. Brandon Tartikoff observed, "Our (NBC) calculated plan of youth-oriented counter-programing, coupled with aggressive and creative promotion, had the absolute right effect with the viewing audience. There's big (ratings) and then there's gargantuan (or gigantic shares), and you always have to consider what'll happen if it's gargantuan."

Terry Pace believed, "'War And Remembrance' may be the first and last of its kind, a $144 million, 48-hour attempt to push television drama to its peak. 'War And Remembrance' could, in many ways, fulfill the destiny of 'the last great mini-series'. Viewers have to have endurance, stamina and dedication to stick with the entire mini-series. 'War And Remembrance' running time is complicated by programmers airing the mini-series on non-consecutive nights (and with its 2 halves separated by 5 months) adds to the loss of momentum and lack of dramatic continuity."

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