NEW YORK -- 'Jackie Collins' 'Lucky/Chances'' is a miniseries in which everything looks like it was designed by Frederick of Hollywood -- dresses, hairdos, even the room settings.
The mini-dresses look like they were shrunk in the wash, some of the hairdos got some help from an eggbeater and the room settings substitute glitz for elegance.
But you don't devote six hours to Jackie Collins and expect to come out with Jacqueline Onassis.
NBC has taken two bestselling novels, 'Chances' and 'Lucky,' which tell the story of beautiful, willful Lucky Santangelo, played by beautiful Nicollette Sheridan, and turned them into a three-part miniseries, to air Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 7, 8 and 9, 9-11 p.m. Eastern time.
The show opens in 1969 in Las Vegas, then flashes back to New York City, 1933, where Gino Santangelo (Vincent Irizarry) and his partner, Enzio Bonnatti (Michael Nader), have been running booze.
With Prohibition ending, Enzio wants to diversify into drugs and prostitution, but Gino objects and instead is taken under the wing of wealthy Clementine Duke (Mary Frann), eventually dreaming of a Las Vegas hotel.
Gino also helps a young prostitute, Carrie (Anne-Marie Johnson), to start a new life. They have a one-night stand. When she turns up pregant, she takes off without telling him so as not to ruin his life. She winds up married to wealthy Bernard Dimes (David McCallum), who acts as a loving stepfather to Steven (Phil Morris), who thinks his real father is dead.
Gino also has two children, Dario and the lovely Lucky.
Lucky grows up to be a rebellious daughter who wants to take her place in what eventually becomes Gino's Las Vegas hotel business. Along the way she marries twice, wears a lot of skimpy clothes and proves herself a businesswoman.
The plots of these two convoluted novels are too complicated to detail, but among the major layers are Eric Braeden as Greek billionaire Dimitri Stanislopolous; Stephanie Beacham as Gino's second wife, a socialite, Los Angeles style; Shawnee Smith as Dimitri's bad girl daughter, Olympia, and Audrey Landers as Hollywood beauty Marabelle Blue.
The plot has strong elements of soap opera, so it isn't surprising that two of the players are best know for their soap contributions -- Irizarry of 'Santa Barbara' (NBC) and Braeden, who plays Victor Newman on CBS's 'The Young and the Restless,' TV's top daytime drama. Like Dimitri, Victor is immensely rich and successful, always urbane, sometimes ruthless.
'When they offered me the role,' Braeden said in an interview, 'I discussed it with my wife and son and they thought it was a good thing to do for various reasons. My wife thought it would be interesting working with Jackie Collins and my son thought it imperative I work with Nicollette Sheridan.'
As for the storyline of 'Lucky/Chances' being soap opera, he said:
'It is somewhat similar. What I like about the format is that it evolves. You don't have to come to a conclusion after one episode. Life doesn't proceed episodically, one thing blends into another, as it does in both the daytime and the miniseries form.'
Braeden, who grew up in Kiel, Germany, said he wanted to be an actor from the time he was 12 or 13 years old.
'I think in my case it was an overactive imagination and a desire to escape the boundaries of a provincial life -- and also to escape the enormous hardships I grew up with right after the war in a totally destroyed country.
'One lived with a lot of depriviation and so compensated by fantasizing. There also was conflict on a lot of issues -- the normal conflict of teenagers, exacerbated by our particular historic period. I lost my father early, after the war. There was a whole epidemic of 52-, 53-year-olds who died, I think, because of the stresses of war, the enormous disappointment and realization that they had been had.
'Acting was a way to express conflict and pain.'
He came to the United States at age 18 and worked for a while as a cowboy in Montana -- cowboys and Indians having been much romanticized in Germany.
'All the glamor goes right out of your posterior,' he said.
Instead he went to Montana State University on a track scholarship. One summer he and a friend made a documentary about going up and back on the Salmon River.
'I didn't know they called it the River of No Return because no one returned,' Braeden said. 'I never want to come that close to death again.'
Then it was out to Los Angeles.
'I did the usual things -- parking cars, doing dishes, working for a furniture company,' he said.
He also returned to school, studying political science and economics, when a friend suggested he could augment his income by working as a German actor in the World War II movies and series so popular in the early 1960s.
His character in 'Lucky/Chances,' which he says probably was based on Stavros Niarchos, is like his Victor Newman character only in their wielding of power.
'Victor has an enormous vulnerability and his hardness come out of that,' Braeden said. 'I love the character.'NEWLN: