Don't let the networks fool you. They're scared to death of cable.
The Big Four - ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC - may still have the most eyeballs at their disposal. But there's little doubt that the cutting edge is elsewhere.
Out there. In that sea of other channels. Where the rules of broadcast television are made to be broken.
From the dynamic, challenging made-for-TV movies of HBO, to the next big thing Singled Out by MTV, to the bounty of A&E's Biography, the brassy appeal of USA's action-packed La Femme Nikita and the over-the-top antics of Comedy Central's South Park, cable just keeps on coming on.
The new fall season is no exception, and in that spirit we offer the following highlights.
CHARLOTTE BRONTE'S JANE EYRE (Premiere: Oct. 19). A&E raises the level of television yet again with a 21/2 -hour presentation of Charlotte Bronte's classic tale of love, scandal and all that jazz. Samantha Morton (Jane Austen's Emma) has the title role, playing the passion-filled governess who falls for her unsettling employer, the mysterious Mr. Rochester, played by Ciaran Hinds (Ivanhoe).
THE DISNEY CHANNEL:
RAY J IN CONCERT WITH BRANDY (Premiere: Saturday). Can't you see the Disney faithful rushing the TV stage for this one? The fabulously talented Brandy (Moesha) hooks up for a performance with her up-and-coming brother, Ray J, in their first television special together.
BREAST MEN (Premiere: Dec. 13). Hey, there's a title that will catch some attention, don't you think? It's another one of those cynical little black comedies the people at HBO like to make. (We won't ask why.) This one stars David Schwimmer and Chris Cooper in a film about the history of the breast implant.
THE DEFENDERS (Premiere: Oct. 12). Showtime brings back a classic series in made-for-TV movie form. This updated version, which features original, Emmy-winning star defender E.G. Marshall, stars Beau Bridges and Martha Plimpton. The first of two Defender films, Payback, will include guest stars John Larroquette, Yaphet Kotto and Mark Blum.
BUFFALO SOLDIERS (Premiere: Dec. 7). Danny Glover stars in the story of the black U.S. Cavalry corps in a film directed by Charles Haid (Hill Street Blues).