ONCE A SIMON, ALWAYS A SIMON, OR TWO

With so many popular shows of the past getting revivals, itís no surprise that brothers A.J.  and Rick Simon are returning to action.

The detective  show "Simon And Simon" was a staple of the CBS lineup from 1981-1988, with  Jameson Parker and Gerald McRaney playing the sibling sleuths. The  characters and the actors reunite in a TV movie Thursday on CBS, with the setting switched to Seattle as the yacht sailing Rick visits A.J., who has become a lawyer of note.

The brothers have disbanded their private eye agency, but it doesnít take long for them to resume their snooping habits once theyíre back together.

Also reprising their series roles are Mary Carver as their mother, Tim Reid as police investigator "Downtown" Brown and Jeannie Wilson as lawyer Janet Fowler. Sheís now A.J.ís wife. The movie also features actor Parkerís real life  wife, Darleen Carr, who played a former flame on the show. McRaney and Parker double as executive producers.

"This felt more  like a continuation," Parker says in differentiating the new "Simon and  Simon" from being a sequel. "When we started filming this, it was as if Mackie(McRaney)and I had only been on a brief hiatus and were just back at work. It was a good feeling." Though "Simon and Simon" developed into one  of CBSí winners of the 1980ís, its ratings initially were shaky.

"Fortunately,  Phil DeGuere (the showís creator) and Kim LeMasters (CBSí programming  chief during much of its run) had a lot of faith in it, and they gave it a  second chance," Parker says. "It started out in a throwaway time slot, where local stations had the right to pre-empt whatever was being  broadcast nationally, so that didnít do us a lot of good. Then, when we  got a better time slot, it just took off."

Much of the  appeal of "Simon and Simon" rested with the camaraderie between McRaney  and Parker, which Parker says was the case behind the scenes, too.

"Iíve been trying to explain that, and I donít have the words for it," Parker says. "Certain people just have a chemistry, and if it clicks, it clicks. If it  doesnít, thereís nothing you can do to fake it.

"Sometimes,  itíll happen on camera with two people who donít even speak to each other  off camera. Fortunately, thatís not the way it is for Mackie and me. We get along real well, and weíve done a number of things together, like  charity events and hunting trips."

In fact, McRaney played a big part in securing Parker for a "Major Dad" guest role.  "He wanted me to do it, but there was a problem because CBS wouldnít pay  what my (standard) salary was. Mackie then said, ĎDonít worry, Iíll pay  it.í I said, ĎNo, no, Iím not taking your money.í Well, my daughter has muscular dystrophy, and to his credit, Mackie came up with the idea of paying me my full salary but donating it to the Muscular Dystrophy  Association. That was acceptable to everyone, and I had a lot of fun working with him again."

When shows that  had a long run return, the inevitable question is whether they might  become a series again. Parker says, "Thereís been talk at various levels  about it becoming a cycle of two hour movies, like Columbo or Perry  Mason."

He adds that he  would welcome it, if only as a "respite" from the reality based shows and  movies that now permeate network schedules.

"I think people  are a little tired of that trend," Parker says. "Fiction is lovely."


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