Thursday night's ABC telefilm "Virtual Obsession" was an exception among made-in-Utah, made-for-TV movies - it was shot here, and it was actually set here.
Most of the TV programs produced in Utah tell stories that take place somewhere else. The state's scenery may be our most versatile local actor.How about last year's two-part movie "Night Sins," shot in Park City but set in the Northwest? Or the miniseries "Stephen King's The Stand," in which Salt Lake City subbed for Boulder, Colo.?
And who could forget the dreadful 1995 miniseries "Sidney Sheldon's Nothing Lasts Forever," in which Salt Lake City played the part of San Francisco. (Hey, if they could cast Brooke Shields as a doctor in that one, then turning the Wasatch Front into the City by the Bay was no big deal.)
Even the CBS series "Touched by an Angel" and "Promised Land" are shot in Utah but set in dozens of other locales. (Although there is the occasional episode set in the Beehive State.)
Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. Given that upcoming made-for-TV movies that were produced here include stories about killer ants and a good number of crazed murderers, who cares if they're not set in Utah?
Here's a look at the made-in-Utah TV movies headed our way:
- "Before He Wakes" (CBS) is a fact-based story that stars Jaclyn Smith ("Charlie's Angels") as a woman who, in the face of mounting debts, kills her husband and makes it look like suicide. She moves elsewhere, meets a new man and the cycle starts all over again. (No airdate has been set for this movie yet.)
- "In My Sister's Shadow" (CBS) stars Nancy McKeon ("Facts of Life," "Style & Substance") as a dowdy sister who is overshadowed by her sister. She hooks up with her sister's dangerous ex-boyfriend - a situation that leads to murder. It's another fact-based script. (No airdate)
- "Marabunta" (Fox) is a thriller in which Utah subs for Alaska, of all places. Eric Lutes ("Caroline in the City") stars as an entomologist who vacations up north - only to be caught in the middle of a battle with rampaging killer ants. (No airdate)
- "Murder at 75 Birch Street" (CBS) stars Gregory Harrison and Melissa Gilbert in a tale of a man who murders his wife and brother and gets involved with his sister-in-law. Not surprisingly, it too is fact-based. (No airdate)
- "No Laughing Matter" (USA) stars Suzanne Somers ("Step by Step") as a single mother with a pair of problems - she's an alcoholic and her teenage son has gotten his girlfriend pregnant. (Pre-mieres Wednesday, April 1 - also airs on Saturday, April 4 and Saturday, April 11.)
- "A Town has Turned to Dust" (Sci-Fi Channel) is based on a 40-year-old Rod Serling teleplay for "Playhouse 90" about a town where hysteria and lies result in community-sanctioned murder. This time, the story is set in a post-apocalyptic future (and it was shot largely in Orem). (To air sometime in June.)