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Friday, 7 April, 2000, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
Clooney's live drama landmark
ER cast
Clooney appeared in a live episode of ER
Former ER heart-throb George Clooney is preparing to produce and star in America's first live feature length TV drama for more than 40 years.

Fail Safe, a Cold War thriller in black and white, will be broadcast live by CBS on Sunday during peak-time evening viewing.

The cast includes fellow big name actors Harvey Keitel and Richard Dreyfuss.

British High Fidelity director Stephen Frears will lead the production from the Warner Brothers studios in Burbank, California.

Clooney has been a fan of live TV since watching his father read the news as a child.

George Clooney
Clooney used to watch his father read the news live

"Live is my favourite form of television. I grew up doing it from the time I was five years old," he explained.

"I think live television is the last sort of place that regular TV can go where it can take chances."

More recently, in 1997 Clooney and the cast of ER successfully broadcast a live episode of the hit medical series.

Risk takers

Fail Safe will be the first live TV feature of its kind in the US since CBS ran the Playhouse 90 series of productions from 1956 to 1960.

It will also mark Clooney's return to television after leaving ER in 1999 to forge a movie career for himself in films such as Three Kings.

Fail Safe is based on a 1962 book by Eugene Burdick recounting the saga of a US bomber accidentally ordered to drop a nuclear warhead on Moscow.

It was originally turned into a film by director Sidney Lumet in 1964, featuring Henry Fonda, Larry Hagman and Walter Matthau.

Sunday night's version of the novel will be shot in black and white for technical reasons but also to recreate an authentic Cold War period feel.

Clooney says he can't wait to get Fail Safe underway but this has not stopped him from feeling nervous about the challenge.

Harvey Keitel
Keitel was picked for his readiness to take risks

"We're all here trying to do something that hasn't been done in a while.

"We're in over our heads a little bit right now. We're a little crazed but everybody is here because it might be fun and we're not quite sure if we can pull it off."

Harvey Keitel, one of the actors Clooney picked because of their willingness to "stick their necks out", was upbeat about Sunday night.

He praised CBS for its support of the project that he said "brings literature and theatre back to the people".

He concluded: "I am particularly proud that a fellow actor has championed the cause of bringing live theatre back to this great medium of television."

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