In 1985, Aaron Spelling Productions turned Jackie Collins' 1983 best-selling novel, 'Hollywood Wives' into a popular TV mini-series. "More people will probably see 'Hollywood Wives' in one night than saw 'Terms of Endearment' in its whole history," Aaron Spelling made the point. Shown over 3 nights during the February ratings 'sweeps', Part I of 'Hollywood Wives' beat 'Hitler's SS: Portrait in Evil', attracting a 22% rating (of the 84.9 million homes with TV sets at the time) and a 33% share of the audience. Part II attracted a 22.8% rating and a 35% share and Part III attracted 25.2% rating. 

It was noted in 1983, 'The Winds of War' and 'The Thorn Birds' averaged over 50% of the viewing audience for their runs. Just 2 years later, CBS' director of audience measurement Mike Eisenberg declared, "That was a very long time ago. A lot has happened since then. You may not see 50 shares again." For the 3 networks, the week 'Hollywood Wives' went on air was regarded the closest 3-way competition in prime time since July 1976 with NBC and ABC both scored a 17.0% rating and a 26% share of the audience and CBS scored 16.8% rating and a 26% share.

"TV is the best entertainment medium around, no one doubts that," Steve Forrest acknowledged. Bob Hope added, "Television has become a national peep show. You know, when you walk by an adult film place and they have a peep show for a quarter? That's what's happening today (in 1985). Every week they have another social problem.

"It seems writers just sit around thinking up disasters and these things. What will grab them next? I don’t know how much further they can go. In fact, some of these subjects might help people. It might bring things out into the open where they can be discussed so that people can get help. When I started out we never thought about rating. Now (in 1985), that’s all you hear. Everything is done with an eye on the ratings."

For the 1985-86 season Lew Erlicht made the forecast, "No new show is going to be No. 1 in its time period. (But) if we come in with a 24 to 25% share of the audience, and sustain that for 3 or 4 months, we'll have a big hit by the next season (1986-87). There isn't a serial buff in America who isn't going to sample that show ('The Colbys'). And remember, 'Dynasty' originally came in on Monday nights and was getting those kinds of mid-20s numbers, back when the measurement for success was a 30 share minimum."

Bob Hope believed, "You know people will jump at that ('Hollywood Wives') because of the title. I think they ought to put on the TV evangelists after those kind of shows. To balance it out, the way they give time to the Democrats to answer President Reagan. After 'Hollywood Wives' I think they ought to put all of the evangelists on the air." 

Steve Forrest maintained, "I don’t think the accuracy of our portrayal of Hollywood behind the scenes is relevant. One advantage the TV mini-series has is that just about every viewer out there has heard and read a ton of gossip and thinks he or she knows 'The Truth'. So what we take out of the novel and put on the screen is cross-plotted with information the audience remembers."

After reading Jackie's book, Aaron reportedly "saw the possibilities (of making an adaptation), presented the project to ABC and made a deal almost instantaneously." Aaron had said, "Jackie is a tremendous storyteller. The book has so many interwoven stories and characters, and I knew I could attract great stars. Also, it was fun to find a mini-series I wouldn't have to go to Yugoslavia to shoot. And besides that, the book has a tremendous sense of humor. It doesn't take itself too seriously; it has almost a campiness to it." 

Speaking to Matthew Gilbert of 'The Boston Globe' in 1993, Jackie Collins confessed, "Shakespeare bores me and I don’t like classical music either – it depresses me. I hate opera, and I don’t like the theater much. I love the movies. I love television. I just like popular things, and I’m not embarrassed to say so. People read my books because I tell a good story. I call myself a street writer – that sounds exaggerated, but I did drop out of school at 15. I never had a formal education. I don't worry about grammar, which is obvious to anyone who reads my books."

Steve Forrest made the observation, "There are plenty of prime-time soap operas on the air which succeed because they dwell on the fact that the rich and famous have problems, too – sometimes bigger ones than other folks! – and that's part of what 'Hollywood Wives' is all about. Whether it’s true or not, it’s the kind of material which has to be played straight. The situations are funny and I’m sure the audience will find a lot to laugh at in this show. The cast had a very enjoyable time making it, too … but we had to play it as serious drama or it just wouldn’t work. I think we pulled it off." 

Aaron Spelling reasoned, ''Most of the audience has not been inside Aida Grey or Bijan or Gucci on Rodeo Drive. They haven't been at the Bistro or the Polo Lounge. We show all that, and we're able to show parties that we could never afford to do on regular series TV. For one party scene we have 500 black-tie extras. We can't do that on 'Dynasty', though I'd like to. A lot of people will never get a chance to see great opulence. If you give them realistic drama every night of the week, there will be a lot of fuses blown in our society. Those people need some escapism."

Steve Forrest theorized, "No one's going to come away from 'Hollywood Wives' with any important new insights into the way this business of ours really works. But I don’t think anyone's going to switch it off in the middle, either." Suzanne Somers observed, "There are many stars and wives of stars who do lots of charity work that we don't hear about." Jackie Collins argued, "Yes, but if I'd written about those people, nobody would have bought the book. It's a very accurate picture. I wrote a toned-down version of what really goes on. I had to clean up the parties for publication. People wouldn’t believe the truth."   

As a writer, Jackie told 'Associated Press', "Changing values is what's important to me. If I had my life to live again, I think I would be in politics. There are so many changes to be made for women, minorities. I’d like to be an uncorrupt politician." Of the audience, Aaron Spelling stressed, "I don't think anybody aims at the lowest common denominator. But if you're a pants manufacturer and pleats are out of fashion, why would you want to make pleats? You can't say to someone who drinks beer that he's stupid because he doesn't like champagne. Besides, there is no such thing as one single audience. 

"There's an audience that needs 'The Day After' and 'Amadeus,' which by the way is my favorite film of the last 3 years (1982-85). And there's an audience for 'Hollywood Wives.' Television should do 'Consenting Adult' and 'Something About Amelia,' but you can't do those shows every night. 'Hollywood Wives' plays opposite 'Hitler's SS,' which is about as far in the opposite direction as you can get. At least people have a choice.''

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