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PBS-TV's new "Stage on Screen" series

The stage on-screen

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You don't see much live TV any more except for news broadcasts. There is certainly a dearth of live drama. Since the advent of videotape, nobody wants to take a chance. Too many things can go wrong.

What we've forgotten is the excitement that comes with the risk of going live.

That's what will make the "PBS Showcase" production of "The Man Who Came to Dinner" so interesting. Starring two of Broadway's best, Nathan Lane and Jean Smart, "The Man Who Came to Dinner" will be broadcast live from the new American Airlines Theatre on 42nd Street in New York on Saturday, Oct. 7, at 8 p.m.

The venerable Kaufman and Hart comedy debuted on Broadway in 1939 and was made into a film in 1942. Since then, it's become a staple in regional theater.

The plot centers on Sheridan Whiteside (Lane), a critic and acerbic wit, who is invited to dinner by the Stanleys. He slips on their doorstep, injures his hip and is forced to take up residence with the family for six weeks while he's mending. In short order, the outrageous becomes commonplace. Smart plays Whiteside's long-suffering secretary.

The live broadcast will be the first production in PBS-TV's new "Stage on Screen" series, which will highlight classic and contemporary theatrical productions. The series will continue later this season with A.R. Gurney's "Far East" and Anna Deavere Smith's "Twilight: Los Angeles." Also in negotiation is an evening of works by Samuel

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