Template:Unreferenced Template:Infobox film The Great Los Angeles Earthquake is a 1990 TV movie about a massive earthquake that strikes Los Angeles, California. The movie stars Joanna Kerns in the movie's lead role, seismologist Clare Winslow, who tries to warn city leaders of the possibility that a powerful earthquake may strike southern California.
The movie begins with a small tremor beginning in the hills outside of Los Angeles near a United States Geological Survey (USGS) research post. The scene then cuts to a teenage girl on a date with her boyfriend at the Earthquake Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. The girl is later revealed to be Heather, daughter of Clare Winslow (Joanna Kerns), who is a seismologist with the U.S.G.S. Clare and her staff, among whom is her assistant Jerry Soloway (Ed Begley, Jr.), have been studying a series of tremors that have been taking place near Los Angeles. Analyzing this information, she is able to conclude that there is a better-than-average chance that a massive earthquake will strike along the San Andreas Fault and cause severe damage to Los Angeles ... and the likelihood of said earthquake happening is imminent. She conducts an informative interview with Kevin Conrad (Richard Masur), a sensationalist television reporter who prematurely airs the interview, creating a political firestorm and causing tension between Clare and her husband Steve (Dan Lauria). Steve happens to be working closely with high-powered and wealthy real estate developer Warren Cates (Robert Ginty) who faces losing money and his socio-political reputation from public fear of the possibility of the earthquake. Warren threatens Clare and attempts to have her fired from her job. Nevertheless, Clare tries to alert the more skeptical city and state government officials including Chad Spaulding (Joe Spano) of the Office of Emergency Management, but fearing political fallout and possible panic, they decide to ignore her warnings. As this unfolds, Clare's family dynamic is further explored through her strained relationship with teenage daughter Heather (Holly Fields), which is mirrored by the relationship of Clare's mother Anita Parker (Bonnie Bartlett) and Clare's sister Laurie (Lindsay Frost), who are estranged from one another due to Anita's open resentment of Laurie's romantic relationship with L.A.P.D. officer Matt (Alan Autry). When tremors are detected along the smaller, lesser-known Newport-Inglewood fault, city officials call a news conference to alert citizens of the looming threat. For most residents, however, it will already be too late. Not long after preparations and evacuations begin, the long-feared earthquake strikes, causing massive damage and killing thousands - among the victims is Anita, who had been trapped in a high-rise condominium elevator with Laurie during the quake. During the time that they are trapped, they reconcile shortly before Laurie is rescued by other surivors, but Anita is less fortunate and dies when the elevator crashes to the bottom of the shaft (during an aftershock, which happens just as she is within grasp of a rescuer). Another victim is Miguel, son of Clare's housekeeper Sonia, who is crushed and fatally injured during the collapse of his high school gymnasium during his graduation rehearsal. Steve Winslow is thought to be dead after being crushed by a wall at the airport, but he is revealed to have survived the quake at the end of the film. More gratifying deaths include those of Wendell Cates, who is thrown to his death from his skyscraper window; and Chad Spaulding, who (during a major aftershock) is electrocuted while attempting to escape from the USGS safety bunker beneath City Hall — after which his body is crushed beneath tons of office furniture, which come crashing down as the ceiling collapses. A more redeeming storyline is that of Kevin Conrad, who is transformed from a cutthroat reporter looking for a hot story into a more sensitive and humanitarian character deeply affected by the tragedy and devastation; at the end of the movie, during a live remote, Conrad tearfully remarks that the death toll could top the number of casualties seen during the American Civil War — just before the live transmission is lost. The remainder of the movie centers on the political and social fallout following the earthquake, and Winslows' attempts to reunite with her family (from whom she had become separated).
The original airing included a number of scenes and subplots that were removed from later airings; one of the excised storylines included an assassination attempt on South African trade minister David Motubu (Brock Peters), who is under the protection of security agent Roy Bryant (Clarence Gilyard, Jr.). The earthquake thwarts the assassin's initial attempt on Motubu's life, although Motubu's personal guard and Bryant's partner are both killed. Although Laurie's police officer boyfriend Matt (who is Bryant's good friend) tries to intervene in the destroyed streets of L.A., Roy falls victim to the assassin's gunfire, but only before Motubu kills the assassin himself. The miniseries was re-aired in Spring 1992, sans these scenes, but they were restored for the DVD release.