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ABC to Televise 8-part Series Tracing WWII and the Holocaust

December 14, 1982
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Herman Wouk’s best-selling novel, "The Winds of War," set in the years immediately preceding Pearl Harbor when the "final solution" was taking shape in Nazi Germany, will be dramatized by the American Broadcasting Co. (ABC) in an 18-hour prime time network television series beginning Sunday, February 6, 1983, the network has announced.

It traces the events and forces that perpetrated the Holocaust and brought the entire world to the brink of destruction, as seen through the eyes of an American naval officer and his family and an American Jewish girl and her uncle. The opening episode which restores on film the long-lost Jewish world of the "shterl" was filmed in Zagreb, Yugoslavia.

The time is 1939. A Jewish wedding is taking place, witnessed by two outsiders. They are Natalie Jastrow, on American Jew in search of her European roots, played by actress Ali McGraw; and Byron Henry, on American non-Jew, played by Jan-Michael Vincent.

ABC reported that questions were raised about casting an actress surnamed McGraw in a major Jewish role. They were quickly quieted by a reminder that Ms. McGraw’s mother was Jewish, according to ABC.

Another member of the cast is Topol, an Israeli actor, who plays Natalie’s Polish cousin. Topol is well known to American audiences for his role as Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof." The film was directed and produced for Paramount Television by Dan Curtis and photographed by ABC cameraman James Globus.

Wouk, who is an observant Jew and one of America’s most successful novelists, commented on the production. "Yes, the shtetl is gone. Much of the ritual of the traditional wedding lives on among the religious communities in Israel and among American Hasidim and yeshiva students; but the setting in which it developed and flourished for hundreds of years was destroyed forever by the Germans in World War II," he said.

The opening episode of "Winds of War" will be aired from 8-11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The succeeding episodes will be broadcast over a seven day period.

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