James Lee Barrett

James Lee Barrett

Although Barrett had some early TV credits, he did not begin working in the medium in earnest until the late 70s. He adapted the short story "Stubby Pringle's Christmas" for NBC in 1978. Also that year, Elizabeth Montgomery starred in the NBC miniseries version of "The Awakening Land," based on the Conrad Richter stories. Montgomery also starred in Barrett's teleplay of "Belle Starr" (CBS, 1980), about the western legend. He wrote the 1986 TV remake of "The Defiant Ones," as well as the story of the Lexington uprising that started the Revolutionary War in "April Morning," a 1988 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation for CBS. The 80s also marked Barrett's turning to TV series work. He created the NBC series "Our House," which starred Wilford Brimley as a crusty old man who takes in his widowed daughter-in-law and her three kids despite his cantankerous nature. The series ran from 1986-88 against "60 Minutes" on CBS. In 1988, Barrett wrote the TV-movie pilot for "In the Heat of the Night," adapted from the feature film, which became a long-running vehicle for Carroll O'Connor. But Barrett never got to see it succeed, as he passed away in 1989. Yet, in 1996, Showtime produced his script "Ruby Jean and Joe" starring Tom Selleck as a rodeo rider traveling with an young African American woman.