Rod Taylor played Gen. Jeb Stuart Willoughby in this made-for-TV, two-part
show on NBC.
It's the story of a small- town Southern lawyer with big-time political
ambitions -- Will Lee -- who finds himself embroiled in politics, a controversial murder trial and
a public battle with a vindictive journalist -- all at the same time. Lee was
played by Corbin Bernsen, who was a hot commodity at the time thanks to his
starring role in "L.A. Law."
Those aren't Lee's only troubles. Gen. Willoughby leads a secret white
supremacist paramilitary group that is shooting its way through Georgia. The
KKK-ish group's chief assassin is a psycho ex-Marine (played by John Glover) who
eventually targets Lee.
Taylor's character appears sporadically throughout the production, but
brings a menacing charm to all his scenes.
Filmed in Georgia, "Grass Roots"
was a sequel to "Chiefs," a highly rated miniseries that aired in
1983. Both were based on novels by Stuart Woods.
"Grass Roots" was
produced by Aaron Spelling, so there are lots of soap opera suds and
little subtlety. It's also one of those old-fashioned,
cast-of-thousands miniseries. In addition to Corbin Bernsen and Rod
Taylor, the cast includes popular "thirtysomething" actress Mel
Harris as Lee's love interest. Raymond Burr plays a manipulative
judge, Claude Akins is a redneck sheriff, and Reginald VelJohnson
plays an intrepid private detective.