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Grass Roots (1992)

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, Katherine Helmond plays a retired school marm, and Claude Akins is a redneck sheriff.

 

 

LINKS

IMDb

Chicago Tribune article

Baltimore Sun review

 

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