Cybill Shepherd bets lightning strikes twice-this time for 'Stormy Weathers'


Who needs Bruce Willis? That's the nose-thumbing attitude being mischievously taken tonight at 9 by Cybill Shepherd in "Stormy Weathers," the ABC movie, which obviously has its eye on a weekly series.

Like Maddie Hayes in "Moonlighting," Samantha Weathers -- call her Sam -- is a private investigator with a hands-off attitude and a mouth to back it up.

Only Sam doesn't have to parry Dave Addison's repertory of wisecracks. She's very much her own woman, and Ms. Shepherd doesn't let you forget it.

Sam used to be called Stormy, but anyone using the nickname these days had better duck.

The daughter of a former police officer, now dead, Sam continues to run the Los Angeles office of Weathers & Weathers, detective agency.

Finding a young film student and computer whiz named Cyril (Charlie Schlatter) at her desk one morning, she simply changes his name to Squirrel and lets him hang around doing odd LTC hacking jobs when needed.

Enter a handsome Italian named Lorenzo Giovanni de Zaccagnini (Robert Beltran) -- call him Gio. He's looking for his brother, Luigi, who disappeared some 15 years ago.

Taking the case, Sam begins by going to Police Lt. Frank Orozco (Tony LoBianco), once her father's partner and, apparently before marrying someone else, her lover.

The search for Luigi will pull Sam into a web of what someone calls brat revolutionaries, several unsolved murders, an international drug operation and the political ambitions of a feminist congresswoman named Gloria Chase (Mimi Kuzyk).

Along the way, Sam will single-handedly floor an assortment of toughs, compete in a car chase with two thugs and apparently be mugged by a nun she quickly dubs Sister Mary Stiletto.

Actually, Sam graduated from a Catholic school named for St. Ursula, who was, we are told, the patron saint of slaughtered virgins.

So did her chic and sophisticated chum Bogie (Diane Salinger), a journalist and a lesbian. Bogie is insisting the two of them go to a St. Ursula reunion dance. "I'll lead," she promises.

Taking a cue from the distinctive tone that Glen Larson devised so successfully for "Moonlighting," "Stormy Weathers," written by Stephan Blom-Cooper, V. Phipps-Wilson and Gerald Ayres, manages to be disarmingly flip.

And, Sam is clearly ready to make prime time a habit. Squirrel will certainly be an office fixture. And Bogie is a must. Television has been good to Ms. Shepherd, most recently as star and producer of a neat little cable movie called "Memphis." She is also one of the executive producers of "Stormy Weathers."

Glamorous, tough and independent, Ms. Shepherd is perfect for the medium. Even back in the 1980s, she was a television heroine for the 1990s. With shrewd flair, she takes another giant step.

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