04-12-2005, 04:48 PM
Join Date: Feb 07, 2005
Tom Verica in Philly Inquirer; NBC Exec Says AD Has "a shot, but it's a long shot"
Read on. He's also "surprised" by the e-mail campaign. We're doing our jobs!
Gail Shister | Philly-born star says 'American Dreams' not dead yet
By Gail Shister
Odds are slim, but it may not be over for American Dreams, says Philly-born star Tom Verica.
The fact that NBC chose to run Dreams' season-finale episode March 30 instead of a quickly produced alternative ending for the whole series bodes well for the struggling third-year drama, he says.
"I view it as a positive sign," says Verica, who plays patriarch Jack Pryor. "Our executive producer [Jonathan Prince] didn't want the alternate ending. He felt it would be the final nail in our coffin."
As the cast began production on the season finale in late February, NBC asked the producers to shoot an alternative ending that would tie up the story lines, according to Verica, 40, a Haverford High alum.
The acclaimed Dreams, set in Philly during the 1960s, revolves around the Pryor family. Dick Clark's American Bandstand serves as a backdrop, and Clark is an exec producer.
In the season cliffhanger, viewers saw Meg Pryor (Brittany Snow) defy her father by riding off to California with her draft-dodger boyfriend on his motorcycle.
The 12-minute alternative ending takes place three years later. On the day of Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon, Meg returns home and faces her family.
That segment "felt thrown together, not really thought out," Verica says. "I'm glad it didn't air."
After production wrapped, "we all left not knowing which one would run. It was very strange not to know. Everything was so abrupt." About a week before broadcast, the cast was told.
Meanwhile, Dreams' fate won't be known until NBC announces its fall schedule to advertisers next month. The show "has a shot, but it's a long shot," says a high-ranking NBC executive.
As for fan reaction, Verica is surprised by the e-mail campaign to save Dreams.
"A lot of times, people say they love a show, but for someone to actually sit down at the computer and put something into action is a different thing.
"A family show like this, as a period piece, hits a chord with a lot of people who care about quality TV. You can't watch CSI with your 6-year-old. You can watch our show with anybody in your family."
Verica and the cast are under contract for three more years, but if NBC whacks Dreams, they can do other projects.
Gail O'Grady, who plays Pryor's wife, Helen, shot an ABC pilot about women selling real estate called Hot Properties. (See rip-off, Desperate Housewives.)
Verica plans to direct an independent film in the fall - possibly in our town.
Tentatively titled All This Falling, it's about a young writer who returns to his hometown of Easton, Pa., for his mother's funeral, hoping to figure out his own life.
This is half encouraging, half discouraging. I don't like reading that a high-ranking NBC exec says it's a long shot. However, I like that Tom thinks it was a good sign that the season finale wasn't the one with the alternate ending. Meg showing up 3 years later? That would've been just awful. I'm glad that wasn't the one that aired.