June 28, 1914: (St. Vitus day - Battle of Kosovo, 1389) The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzogovina sparked the outbreak of World War I. Before his death in 1898, the Iron Chancellor, Prince Otto Furst von Bismarck-Schonhausen had already predicted the war, "One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans."

In February 1984, some 70 years later, Sarajevo, then Yugoslavia, played host to the XIV Winter Olympics. To counter ABC's coverage of the Games, NBC aired the three-part mini-series, 'Celebrity'. Based on Thomas "Tommy" Thompson's blockbusting book (No. 1 on the best-seller lists for 4 months in 1982), 'Celebrity' was an old-fashioned story of retribution. Part I  attracted 21.2% households ratings on Sunday night and 33% audience share; Part II on Monday night attracted 21.4% households ratings and Part III on Tuesday night attracted 24.9% households ratings.

Centered around "the three princes", the mini-series 'Celebrity' opened near the end of its story. In 1975, three former high school friends who grew up in the same Fort Worth, Texas neighborhood to become celebrities reunited in a cabin where they relived a terrible secret of a crime committed on the night before their graduation in 1950 (some 25 years earlier).

Evangelist Thomas Jeremiah "T.J." Luther, voted most popular in the senior yearbook was the prince of temptations. Gridiron player turned Hollywood movie star, McKenzie "Mack" Crawford, voted "most handsome" in the yearbook was the prince of charms and journalist Kleber Cantrell, voted "most likely to succeed" was the prince of power.

William Hanley adapted Tommy Thompson's book for television. Paul Wendkos was director and producer Rosilyn Heller reportedly promised Tommy Thompson before his death she would see the TV adaptation of his novel through, "It was one of Tommy's dying wishes. He said, 'Ros, we've got to go to Texas to do 'Celebrity', so that's why we're here (on the set near Dallas)."

Tommy Thompson who received training at 'Life' magazine (1961-1972) told 'People' magazine, "It is certainly not autobiography, but there are pieces of me in many of the people who now live on the pages. That is the only real truth in writing fiction." Rosilyn Heller added, "Tommy was a person in great conflict about it (being a celebrity). He was embarrassed about loving it."

'Newsday' reported, "Co-producer Richard L. O'Connor brought the $10.1 million project in slightly under budget and on time. The 70-day filming schedule shifted from locations in New York, to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to the Los Angeles area."

Of the character T.J. Luther, one critic remarked, "Luther's path to prominence takes a stranger twist. After working at ever more menial jobs, Luther turns to crime and eventually lands in jail. Then, he blinds himself while using lye to remove a self-portrait from a cell wall. Within hours, however, his sight is restored. And even more miraculously, the effect of the lye on his self-portrait creates a reasonable representation of the face of Christ.

"Luther undergoes a religious conversion, and in no time is head of one of the largest and fastest-growing evangelical movements in the United States. He calls his followers 'The Chosen', builds his City of Miracles near Fort Worth, and operates a multi-million-dollar empire from an office filled with the latest in electronic surveillance and communications equipment."

Michael Beck told the press, "The English are real sticklers for accents and dialects. Accents are very important in England because they not only reveal where you come from but establish your class. I wasn't in any of the New York scenes, so while everyone else was there NBC sent me to Fort Worth to study the accent. I think we owed it to the people who live there to try to get the accent right. Doesn't it drive you crazy to watch 'Dallas' and they all sound like they're from Los Angeles?

"I'd read the novel and Tommy was fairly clear that as a faith healer T.J. was a fraud. He's a manipulator of people, charismatic and charming in a certain way. But in the show we leave it up to the audience to decide. Personally, I think he's a fraud and a con man. I approached T.J. as a person with extremely low self-esteem. Fame happened to Mack because of his good looks. Kleber achieved fame because of his talent. But it's T.J. who wanted fame the most.

"He's a loser in life but he keeps harping on the fact that he was voted most popular in high school. He aligns himself with gangsters until he sees his main chance to become an evangelist. He resents that Mack and Kleber have shut him out of their lives. No matter how successful he's become, he's still a loser. I wanted it (the evangelist role) to come out of the writing and the character.

"I wanted it to be an old-fashioned tent revival, with a lack of sophistication but with the animal magnetism and sexuality of a rock star. I wanted his show to be a tent revival and rock'n'roll kind of show. I purposely didn't watch any of the TV evangelists or I would have copied them. Paul saw it as a modern-day morality play. Innocents commit a sin, the sin haunts them and there's retribution for their fall from grace.

"He has a way of pulling from his actors. What he would say, one word, would open up something, and you could give more. Everyone was feeling the presence of Tommy Thompson. When we were first introduced as boys, it rained in the script. But it hadn't rained in Texas for about three months. Paul really wanted a long shot of the street, and suddenly, storm clouds came up, and it rained for two hours – on the one day that we needed rain."

Richard L. O'Connor recalled, "Most difficult, almost unbearable for everybody, was when Mack gets married. That day, in California, was like 108 degrees. There was no air conditioning, and we were dying in this room, yet everybody looks so fresh on screen." Michael Beck explained the aging process of the characters, from 18 to mid-50s, "Phil Lanthrop’s lighting did a lot to help all of us, the whole 18-year-old aspect of us. It wasn’t difficult finding that emotionally, because I’d been there, but physically, at 35, when you smile, your face wrinkles."

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