What’s Worth Watching: Motown 25 Revisited
Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, Saturday, Feb. 28, PBS (check local listings)
It was one of those indelible TV moments on par with the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, and anyone who was watching live on May 16, 1983, will never forget the dazzling sight of Michael Jackson introducing his immortal Moonwalk to an electrified audience during a performance of his signature hit “Billie Jean.” Motown 25 hasn’t been seen on broadcast TV since that spectacular night, and it’s hard to imagine a more satisfying nostalgia trip to get PBS viewers through a pledge night (certain to feature many pitches for the recent DVD release of the special).
Richard Pryor hosted this Emmy and Peabody winning concert event, which besides Jackson featured Motown greats Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson (performing with Linda Ronstadt), Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross (with a Supremes reunion), The Miracles, and The Temptations and Four Tops competing in a “battle of the bands”-style sequence. They really don’t produce them like this anymore.
Princess Gina (1998) “It was the acting challenge of my life,” says Alfonso of her indelible double-duty stint. “In fact, if they’d told me up front that the Princess Gina story was going to go on for a year and keep snowballing and evolving in all these wild directions, including Hope being pregnant and the baby-switch storyline, I would have been scared to death. Everything about that story was so gorgeous–the sets, the wardrobe. That was back when we still had money! One day, I had seven costume changes, each dress more beautiful than the last. It was insane!”
Zack’s death (2006) “There’s nothing sadder than a parent experiencing the loss of a child,” says Alfonso. “But, just to make it even more heartbreaking, the driver who took the life of Bo and Hope’s son was Bo’s daughter, Chelsea. And the accident happened on New Year’s Eve. It was all so horrible. I was emotionally exhausted, just drained at the end of every work day. I couldn’t stop crying but, as hard as that story was to play, it was also very beautifully written. I consider it a great gift.