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AMERIKA U.S. Miniseries
Broadcast on ABC over the course of seven nights in the middle of February 1987, Amerika was a controversial 14 and 1/2 hour miniseries. Tom Shales of The Washington Post wrote in December 1996 that Amerika "Could be the hottest political potato in the history of television." It was produced by ABC Circle Films, and written and directed by Donald Wrye, who was also executive producer. This series depicted life as imagined in the United States in the late 1990s, ten years after the Soviet Union took control of America employing a Russian controlled UN peace-keeping force.

Some have contended that Amerika was produced to provide a television counter to the controversial ABC movie The Day After, which depicted nuclear holocaust between the U.S. and Russia in 1983. The ABC executive responsible for both programs denied this view. Brandon Stoddard, President of ABC Circle films said on 16 October 1986 at a press tour at the UN Plaza Hotel in New York that the idea for Amerika "never occurred during the controversy of The Day After, had nothing to do with The Day After. It happened...the birth of this idea happened substantially later." Stoddard went on to say that a critic of The Day After, Ben Stein from the Herald Examiner had written something, "at a much later point, a line...that had to do with what would life be like in America in a Russian occupation." Stoddard was stuck, however, thinking about how to do such a television program without getting caught up in the actual struggle of the takeover. Some time later, Stoddard's spouse suggested doing the project at a point in time ten years after the takeover.

At the time, Amerika was the most controversial television event ever broadcast by ABC. The network received more mail and phone calls about Amerika before it was on the air than the total pre- and post-broadcast viewer reaction of any other program in the history of ABC, including the end of the world story, The Day After.

The critics of Amerika came from all sides of the political spectrum. The liberals feared the program would antagonize the Kremlin, jeopardize arms control and détente. The right thought the miniseries inadequately portrayed the brutality of the U.S.S.R. The United Nations thought the movie would erode its image.

Despite the pre-broadcast level of controversy, most of the public did not object to the miniseries. Research conducted by ABC before the broadcast indicated that 96% of the population over 18 did not object to the program. Most Americans felt strongly that they should have the right to decide for themselves whether they would watch the program.

While almost half the country watched The Day After (46.0 rating), Amerika was seen in 19% of all TV households. Despite lots of publicity, controversy and viewers, research conducted by Professor William Adams at George Washington University showed that attitudes about the things most critics thought would be influenced by Amerika, did not change. What American's thought about the Soviet Union, The United Nations, or U.S. Soviet relations did not change in before and after surveys.

-Guy Lometti

 

 

Amerika

- Unknown -

There on my TV today, I saw a news man, here's what he had to say,
Nothing's changed, it's all the same.
Thank you, and goodnight, America.

I thought to myself, this ain't right, since when did we Americans forget how to fight
Something's amiss, someone turned out the lights, and said,
Thank you and goodnight, America.

Amerika, my home so sweet, can't take it's people off the streets or educate, or investigate, or feed it's poor, but we can go to war!
Don't you think it's funny that we send 'em all our money?
Thank you, and goodnight, Amerika.

There on my TV today, I saw the president, and here's what he had to say,
It's all the same, yes folks, nothing's changed. Thank you, and goodnight, America.

I can't help but think that there's a better way, there's something going on,
but who's to say? Not the president, and not the government,
Thank you, and goodnight, Amerika.

Amerika, my home so sweet, can't take it's people off the streets or educate, or investigate, or feed it's poor, but we can go to war!
Don't you think it's funny that we send 'em all our money?
Thank you, and goodnight, Amerika.

I smashed up my TV today, I didn't need the score, I saw the game,
It was the Republicats, and those Demicans
Thank you, and goodnight, Amerika.

If I were you and you were me, with a million more, the world would see
That we're not that bright, but we know things are not right
Thank you, and goodnight, Amerika.

Amerika, my home so sweet, can't take it's people off the streets or educate, or investigate, or feed it's poor, but we can go to war!
Don't you think it's funny that we send 'em all our money?
Thank you, and goodnight, Amerika.
 


Amerika
Photo courtesy of BBC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAST

Devin Milford......................................Kris Kristofferson
Marion Milford.......................................Wendy Hughes
General Samanov...........................Armin Mueller-Stahl
Peter Bradford .........................................Robert Urich
Amanda Bradford....................................Cindy Pickett
Colonel Andrei Denisov.................................Sam Neill
Kimberly Ballard...............................Mariel Hemingway
Althea Milford........................................Christine Lahti
Ward Milford.......................................Richard Bradford
Helmut Gurtman..................................Reiner Schoene
Herbert Lister..............................John Madden Towney
Will Milford...............................................Ford Rainey

PRODUCER

David Wrye

PROGRAMMING HISTORY

ABC

15 February-22 February 1987 9:00-11:00

FURTHER READING

Lometti, G.E. "Broadcast Preparations for and Consequences of The Day After." In, Wober, J.M., editor. Television and Nuclear Power: Making the Public Mind. Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex, 1992.

Lometti, G.E. Sensitive Theme Programming and the New American Mainstream. New York: American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. 1984.

                          IN AMERICA

                     OR ARE THEY???

 

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