Moonlighting With
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The New York Times

March 31, 1987, Tuesday, Late City Final Edition

SECTION: Section C; Page 18, Column 5; Cultural Desk

LENGTH: 583 words




Maddie Hayes and David Addison will become lovers at 9 o'clock tonight, and ABC wants to make sure everyone knows it.

For those not among the weekly millions who watch ''Moonlighting,'' a brief explanation: Miss Hayes, played by Cybill Shepherd, and Mr. Addison, played by Bruce Willis, have been running a detective agency throughout the two and a half years the series has been on the air. They have also been running after, away from and around each other for just as long. The banter between the characters has brought the show critical and commercial success. ''Moonlighting'' is consistently among the top 10 programs on television each week.

But the producer, Glenn Gordon Caron, has decided that enough is enough and tonight will allow his characters, in the words of David Addison, to ''get horizontal.'' This week's TV Guide carries a half-page advertisement showing the two actors in a suggestive embrace. The copy reads: ''No more between the lines. Tonight's between the sheets.'' And ABC is running promotional spots in which Dr. Ruth Westheimer announces, ''Two years of foreplay is enough.''

A Danger for the Plot

In the annals of major events that happen to fictional people, tonight's episode is probably somewhat bigger than Rhoda Morgenstern's wedding on ''Rhoda'' in 1974 but not so big as ''Who Shot J.R.?'' on ''Dallas'' in 1980. ABC hopes the result is more like the latter. ''Dallas'' is still on the air seven seasons later while ''Rhoda'' lasted barely another year.

In fact, the producers and viewers of ''Moonlighting'' recognize the danger that giving the audience what it wants will eventually weaken the plot. ''The tension is what makes the show work,'' said Elizabeth Barnes, an executive assistant at the Motion Picture Association of America and a longtime fan of the show. ''You keep watching in case this is the week something happens. When it finally happens, why watch?''

Tonight, however, ABC expects people to be watching, and Karen Fink, a corporate lawyer in Fort Pierce, Fla., hopes to be one of them. Her first baby is due tomorrow, and Mrs. Fink said she had the VCR set and her fingers crossed that the child would not decide to be born tonight.

''I've waited two and a half years to see this,'' she said. ''I'd hate to miss it just to give birth.''

A Host of Questions

Neither Mr. Caron nor the network is giving any plot details about the program. What they have revealed is that Maddie is forced to make up her mind when she receives a marriage proposal from Sam, played by Mark Harmon, whom she has been dating for three episodes. Those few facts, however, don't even begin to answer the questions of clamoring fans, hundreds of whom have been calling the ABC publicity office for the last week.

In these newly responsible times, they ask, will Maddie and David discuss birth control? (Probably not. Miss Shepherd is, in fact, pregnant and not due until October, well into next season's shooting schedule.) Will Maddie have one baby or two? (Miss Shepherd and her husband, Dr. Bruce Oppenheim, are expecting twins.) Will the characters marry? (Ms. Barnes says no. Her boss, Barbara Dixon, votes yes. Ms. Barnes remains confident. ''If any show can pull off a single parent with a baby, it would be 'Moonlighting,' '' she said.) Will Maddie continue to work? Will Mark Harmon leave the show? If the couple do marry, will David be faithful to Maddie?

Then again, maybe it will all turn out to be a season long dream. . . . Home Page


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