VHS / DVD
Schaefer / Karpf-Eckstein Productions and Gaylord Production Co.
100 minutes in USA - 96 minutes on DVD
Filmed on location in Vancouver
Premiere: March 7, 1988 on NBC
Laura Lansing, a wealthy, celebrated novelist who faces the crisis of her career when her publisher turns down her latest book 'Penthouse Paradise.' Faced with retirement, Lansing makes a bet to prove that she has not lost touch with her readers: she will live with a typical family in the suburbs for a week – or give up writing forever. In the home of the Water and Melody Gomphers, Laura turns the family's life upside down with her outlandish behavior. She struggles to relate to their children, meddles in their marital matters. But in the end she comes down to the normal folks and in the end jeopardizes the outcome of her bet to save the marriage of the Comphers'.
David Bianculli - New York Post
"Katharine Hepburn is almost incapable of giving a bad performance. By sheer force of her personality and self-assurance she can make even the most lightweight role seem substantial, or at least watchable... Hepburn makes this piece of fluff worth watching, if only barely."
John J. O'Connor – New York Times - 1988
"It's Katharine Hepburn all right. Playing a novelist named Laura Lansing, she has had her morning run and swim, and now she's on the phone talking to Yves Saint Laurent - in French. Then, pedaling on her stationary bicycle, she's told that her new book, ‘Penthouse Paradise,’ isn't selling, and that her publisher is reluctant to go on to another novel. Furious, she wails: ''I'm chopped liver. I'm down the drain. I'm out with the garbage.'' Hardly. It's still Katharine Hepburn.
The legend returns to television, this evening at 9 on NBC, in Laura Lansing Slept Here, a carefully contrived vehicle put together by the writer James Prideaux and the director George Schaefer, the same team that collaborated with Miss Hepburn on Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry. Let's be frank up front. Age has to some extent withered this remarkable woman. A head tremor that first appeared several years ago is slightly more pronounced. A throat problem that developed shortly before this production was to begin left her noticeably hoarse. She won the first of her four Academy Awards for Morning Glory; it was made in 1933. Time passes.
But the special Hepburn spirit remains, gutsy and disarming as ever. That is the foundation on which this vehicle is constructed. Like Miss Hepburn, Laura Lansing is apparently indestructible. Told that she has lost contact with the average reader - 'I live in a penthouse,' she tells a television interviewer, 'I think everyone should' - Laura bets her agent (Lee Richardson) that she will be able to live with a normal family for a week without driving either them or herself bonkers. Voila, the premise!
The agent finds an accountant in his office who is willing to put up with Laura for the not inconsiderable sum of $ 500 a day. Walter Gomphers (Joel Higgins) lives in Hicksville, L.I. - actually Vancouver, British Columbia - with his sweet and adoring wife, Melody (Karen Austin), and their three children, punkish Annette (Schuyler Grant, Miss Hepburn's grandniece), surly Walter Jr. (Sean Harmon) and toddling Malcolm, who cries whenever Laura ventures into his vicinity. Melody wonders why a celebrity would want to live in Hicksville when she could go 'someplace fabulous - like Atlantic City.'
There's too much exaggeration in Laura Lansing Slept Here. The normal folk are far too innocent and naive about life beyond their suburban precincts. And Laura is unbelievably grand and disconnected, urging them to drink champagne and complaining about the lack of caviar at the local supermarket. But this is the kind of project with links to reality that are largely symbolic. The point is, quite simply, to see Miss Hepburn in action, descending royally upon the simple folk of suburbia, imperiously altering their lives and, not least, being changed herself in the process. There is not a moment's doubt about where this project is heading. The pleasure is simply in watching it get there.
Tough, crotchety and wise, Miss Hepburn can still make this sort of exercise irresistible. She is as special as ever."
What Kate had to say
What fellow actors, the director and friends had to say
"I would go up there for dinner every Wednesday night. She'd be there with Phyllis [Wilbourn, her secretary and friend] and they'd do the cooking and you'd have a drink and then you'd sit down to a lovely meal of the freshest vegetables. And then you were to leave because Kate said you've said everything you have to say by that time. It wasn't this business of eat dinner at 8 and then you have to sit around and chat until 11 or they'll think it's rude. She thought that was nonsense. You've said it all—go home."