Television: The Second Life Of Brian

ABC's original male weepie was a lachrymose landmark. If at first you succeed, cry, cry again

In 1971, the American Broadcasting Co. taught grown men to cry. ABC's Brian's Song practically invented the male weepie with its true story of Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) and Brian Piccolo (James Caan), the Chicago Bears runningbacks whose friendship ended when Piccolo died young; of cancer, in 1970. It was Love Story with a Y chromosome, plus a deep interracial friendship, and the network now promotes it as "groundbreaking," a "landmark" among TV movies.

So why remake it? The new Brian's Song (Sunday, Dec. 2, 7 p.m. E.T.) follows the original's playbook so closely that it never really answers the...

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