Kirstie Alley talks about return to TV sitcom spotlight

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Bill Harris, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:37 PM ET

Kirstie Alley is a TV network's dream.

“I like commercials!” said Alley, whose sitcom Kirstie makes its Canadian debut Friday, March 7 on CTV. “Call me crazy. I like breaks!

“And I'm a consumer. I want to know what the hell is out there to buy.”

The subject of ads came up because Alley was discussing how different the TV landscape is now, as opposed to her days in the late '80s and early '90s playing Rebecca Howe on Cheers.

“A lot of people DVR comedies now, because if you have a person who, say, watches a reality show and a comedy, if they're on at the same time they'll probably record the comedy, because they want to watch the reality show in real time,” Alley said. “They don't want to see any spoilers on the internet about who got voted off or whatever.

“When I did Cheers (1987-93), and even when I did Veronica's Closet (1997-2000), it was must-see TV, it was event TV. But I'm still that way. I don't DVR, I want to watch shows in real time, when the rest of the country supposedly is watching, even though apparently they're DVR'ing.

“You're right, I am a network's dream!”

Originating on TV Land in the United States, Kirstie is a sitcom about Broadway star Maddie Banks (Alley) whose life is turned upside down by the arrival of Arlo (Eric Petersen), the adult son she gave up for adoption 26 years ago. Notably, Kirstie also stars Michael Richards (Kramer on Seinfeld) and Rhea Perlman (Carla on Cheers).

“Especially for Rhea and I, because we worked together on the same show, it's important that our characters are different, and that they have a different relationship to each other,” Alley said. “I'm used to being a little bit more reserved, and now I'm a lunatic. And Rhea is used to being more pissy than she is in this.

“But it's the same reason I like Hot in Cleveland (another TV Land show that airs on CTV and CTV Two). I like the comfort zone of seeing people who I know, but I also like the modern feel of someone like Eric (Petersen) being in it. I think you need to be familiar – the audience has to be glad you're back in their house – but different.”

Alley knows it takes a while for sitcoms to find their legs, and sometimes character paths are dictated by real-life occurrences.

“Let's say I gain 10 pounds, then they start writing fat jokes, right?” Alley said, “They'll have a doughnut joke or something. But then if I lose 10 pounds, they'll write in some guy complimenting how beautiful I am.

“I also think, in sitcoms, if you're an ass or you're mean in real life, they'll write you in less. I think they can get spiteful. But then, if we as actors wanted to be really mean, we could be spiteful by purposely making jokes not work.

“We aren't there yet on this show. But we want time to get there, because it might mean season 11. 'F--- you people!' 'No, f—- you, you're playing a mime in this episode!' ”

Kirstie Alley: Not only a network's dream, but an interviewer's dream, too.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

 


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