Sunday's viewership placed the screen adaptation of Tony Kushner's Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning epic play at the top of the year's made-for-cable movies.
Though the evening's top-watched broadcast program — CBS' "Undercover Christmas" — pulled in 17.3 million viewers, the ratings for the Mike Nichols-directed drama almost quadrupled that of Showtime's controversial cable movie "The Reagans." The airing of that much-in-the-news movie only pulled in 1.1 million viewers.
The second half of the HBO drama is set to air Dec. 14 at 8 PM (ET). Check your local listings.
Al Pacino, Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson star in the small screen version. A male quartet of stage performers — Patrick Wilson (Oklahoma!), Ben Shenkman (Proof), Justin Kirk (Love! Valour! Compassion!) and original Broadway cast member Jeffrey Wright (Topdog/ Underdog) — are joined in the cast by Mary-Louise Parker (Proof).
James Cromwell, Michael Gambon and Simon Callow are also featured in the film. Streep, Thompson, Wright and Kirk perform multiple roles. The drama interweaves the stories of a gay couple split apart by AIDS; a Mormon couple separated by their secret fantasies; and a legendary lawyer fading into history. It is set against the backdrop of New York City in 1985 — a time made apparent by a scene which reveals the pre-9/11 Manhattan skyline. The "gay fantasia" includes mystical sequences — executed more simply on film than on stage — filled with ghosts of ancestors and accused spy Ethel Rosenberg, a trip through a refrigerator to Antarctica and, of course, a visit from an angel.
The screen version of Millennium Approaches is divided into three chapters "Bad News," "In Vitro" and "The Messenger" and Perestroika is also segmented into "Stop Moving," "Beyond Nelly" and "Heaven, I'm in Heaven."
Subsequent airings for individual chapters are as follows: (all times ET - check your local listings)
Chapter 1 "Bad News" - Dec. 8 (8 PM), Dec. 11 (10 PM) and Dec. 22 (11 PM)
Chapter 2 "In Vitro" - Dec. 9 (8 PM), Dec. 12 (10 PM) and Dec. 22 (12:10 AM)
Chapter 3 "The Messenger" - Dec. 10 (8 PM), Dec. 13 (10 PM) and Dec. 23 (11 PM)
Chapter 4 "Stop Moving," - Dec. 15 (8 PM), Dec. 18 (10 PM) and Dec. 29 (11 PM)
Chapter 5 "Beyond Nelly" - Dec. 16 (8 PM), Dec. 19 (10 PM) and Dec. 29 (midnight)
Chapter 6 "Heaven, I'm in Heaven" - Dec. 17 (8 PM), Dec. 20 (10 PM) and Dec. 30 (11 PM)
Further airings (on various HBO networks), interviews with the cast and production photos are available by visiting www.hbo.com/films/angelsinamerica.