It took ten years for the Hart's to return to television in a series of movies. Scroll down to read why it took so long and for details about the movies.
The return of the Harts: why it took so long.
- "We wanted to do something that had some continuity to it." Then, Don Ohlmeyer, a big admirer of "Hart to Hart," took over as president of NBC, and made them an offer they didn't refuse: a guarantee of four movies with an option of at least two more next year. 1
made an arrangement with NBC where we did four definitely on the air
and had options for two more. I have just returned from Hawaii where
we have finished the fourth one, and they have now exercised an option
for two more." 2
[As a result, six movies were made for the NBC network, and after Lionel Stander's death another movie was done for the Family Channel. ]
- "The reason we haven't done it was that a situation hasn't come up that was as ideal as this one. We were approached on doing one (TV movie) and I never wanted to do just one." 3
The impact of Lionel's death
Lionel Stander died on November 30, 1994. He had just competed filming Secrets of the Hart two weeks earlier. When asked how Lionel's death effected the Hart movies, Stefanie Powers explained that " we had an original commitment to do six for NBC. But when Lionel died, by mutual agreement, it seemed a bit pointless to do an additional one. So we thought we had closed the book on Hart to Hart. And then our old boss from ABC, Tony Thomopoulos, who is now with the Family Channel, offered a very interesting opportunity: to recapture the style of the old series, which we had lost in the NBC films, because they had wanted us to fit into a mystery format. It also afforded an opportunity for a postscript, a tribute, to the Max character. So we began again.." 5
Comparing the movies to the TV series
Comparing the movies to the TV series
The Harts returned after a decade away, and RJ had trouble convincing the networks to stick with the Hart formula. In 1994 he said that he and Stefanie "had definite ideas on how the show should appear. They wanted to re-create the laughter, adventure and glamour that had worked so well before. It takes a bit of time to set all that up because television humour has changed since then. It's all backbiting and edgy humour, and needling each other now. We decided that it had to be a relationship where they respect each other, care for each other."
"Monogamous. It'd been a hell of a fight, I can tell you that. They were always trying to get us to break up."
We noted that despite the good old-fashioned values retained by the program, it had a sexier image than the old show. In fact, in the first show Jonathan and Jennifer were at "at it like rabbits." Was that part of the re-vamp foe the 90s audience?
"Well, before it was an hour show and mostly plot- motivated. So we didn't have much time to act like rabbits. In the two-hour format we might a little bit more time" Wagner said with amusement.
RJ had trouble convincing the networks to stick with the Hart formula. In 1994 he said that he and Stefanie "had definite ideas on how the show should appear. They wanted to re-create the laughter, adventure and glamour that had worked so well before. It takes a bit of time to set all that up because television humour has changed since then. It's all backbiting and edgy humour, and needling each other now. We decided that it had to be a relationship where they respect each other, care for each other." 6
Everybody changes in ten years, but we're not interested in doing the six o'clock news. We still want to do a romantic adventure that people will find refreshing. the humour, the romance and charm, just like the old series." 7
"The Harts are moving into the 90's. They have to deal with the conflicts of a two-career family- and there will be trouble in paradise. This time around Jennifer Hart's career as a crackerjack reporter will be emphasized more. She will be more independent and we'll go in different directions. But have no fear. The show will retain all its original glamour and sophistication. The Harts will still play detective together and be as romantic as ever. That's how people remember us and we don't want to disappoint anyone.!" 8
- "It gives us an opportunity to explain more, with more character revelation. What's happened (with the Harts) is what's happened with all of us; in 10 years , there's been tremendous change. They had a very monogamous relationship, which I think was enjoyed by a lot of the people who watched, but her business has pulled her away and she's doing stories. He's been away trying to keep his business together, with what has happened in the economy. Max realizes that they are going in different directions, and he kind of shoots the arrow to get then back together again." 9
- "We're going to include all the elements that made the series a hit - beautiful clothing and furnishings, mystery, excitment, thrills. You name it, it will be there." 12
- You know when we first began to do this kind of format it was almost ten years to the day we had done the old series. There was a ten year hiatus. When we went back we really wanted to, RJ was very adamant about us not wanting to do a single show as it didn't really mean anything. But this is really an opportunity which has allowed the Harts to have a little bit of character building rather than just pulling the plot along. .... I think for us it means we have a chance to do more character revelations. We can have scenes that are not constantly pushing the plot all the time. Therefore just to be able to come to a place like Sydney and to Australia and to make a movie that has a beginning , a middle and an end and stay here for awhile and do it instead of coming in and trying to make a very quick one hour show. 10
and Stefanie's thoughts on bringing the Harts back
- Stepping back into Jonathan Hart's shoes was the easiest thing I have ever done," . "Jonathan is my favourite role of all time, and the new shows will be especially exciting. 13
- "Hart to Hart was really the highlight of my career, so for us to do this show again is like a gift. When the show was cancelled we were really shocked. You can imagine how great it feels for us to be back together, even if we are a little nervous about doing it again." 14
- "The Hart to Hart combination was and still is magic. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be doing this reunion film." 15
Stefanie"There was always going to be that feeling of 'will we live up to people's recollection?' You're always wary of a repeat performance. We both knew the spark was still there." 16
Will any more movies be made?
- RJ says no more movies will be made. "I was going to go forward with it. But Stefanie wanted to go into the theatre. I said that was the end. We had great joy making it. Lionel Stander was a tremendous contributor, and when he died, we lost something, and losing Freeway was also something. It was a long run and a good one, and I am very grateful for it.( Thanks to Maja for this information). 17
- RJ told Larry King in 2002: "Well, you know, the pilot was made in 1978. It went on the air in '79. We were on for five years. We were off for 10, and then I - we came back and we made six two-hour movies... and.. and, I don't know. There might be a chance of a reunion somewhere down the line. I've learned never to say never. 18