Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Still No DVD In Sight For WKRP

TV Guide talks to Loni Anderson and finds that "WKRP In Cincinnati" still has no DVD coming. She also has some other things to say about the show, mostly who's still in touch with whom: Is WKRP not on DVD yet because of music-rights issues?
Anderson: Exactly. Even in the reruns, they had to change the music, and it takes away from the show to just have canned, nondescript music when it was about a radio station with Top 40 hits and rock and roll. I think that has been the big stumbling block. Has there been any talk of a reunion?
Anderson: That would be wonderful, and I think it all is up to [creator] Hugh [Wilson]. He was our creative genius, so he really is the leader. And, of course, now we've lost Gordon Jump. Gosh, it's been two years now. You know, he has one of my favorite lines in the entire series. I'm sure you know what one that is....
Anderson: "As god is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly." [A classic WKRP episode featured a Thanksgiving publicity stunt in which the station dropped live turkeys from a helicopter.] Exactly!
Anderson: He was magnificent, wasn't he? Just magnificent. Who are you most in touch with from the WKRP cast?
Anderson: I'm probably most in touch with Howard [Hesseman] and Gary [Sandy], and was in touch with Gordon, too, when he was living. Tim [Reid] lives on the East Coast and Richard Sanders lives in the Northwest, so it's hard for everybody to get together. I talk to Jan [Smithers] on the phone all the time. We also get together with our directors and a lot of the crew. It was a really buddy-buddy show. None of us were well known before it, so it's kids who came up together. If the DVD were to finally get released, would you want to take part in the extras, like DVD commentary?
Anderson: Oh, absolutely. I know a lot of people try to get away from what they were identified with, [but] I love it. I would be there in an instant. As a matter of fact, I just did [a pilot] for TV Land called Back to the Grind, and it's taking people from their old series and making them do their real job. So I worked at a radio station for a day, and it was so much fun. What were some of the highlights of that day?
Anderson: Well, I started out as the receptionist, and manning the phones was the hardest thing I did all day.

Loni Anderson became such a pop-culture punchline -- for that brief shining moment when she filled the role of "designated blonde sexpot who dominates the tabloid coverage until you're sick of it all" -- that people forget how funny she was on "WKRP." She had terrific comedy timing, not only when it came to line delivery, but perfectly-timed gestures. There's a scene in an episode from the first season where she's sitting at a table with Herb (Frank Bonner) and his wife Lucille (Edie McClurg), and the dialogue goes:

LUCILLE: Herb, I think there's something you should know.
HERB: What?
LUCILLE: I've been unfaithful to you.

What makes that bit the funniest moment in the episode is not only the fact that Anderson times the line just right, but the way she instantly comes out of a sort of crouch and sticks her arm up in the air, calling for the check. The gesture is funny and the way she changes posture in a split second is also funny. Too bad her post-WKRP career didn't give her many opportunities to use her comedy skills.

1 comment:

VP81955 said...

Too bad her post-WKRP career didn't give her many opportunities to use her comedy skills.

Ah, the trap set by glamour. People focused on Loni's beauty and sexiness to such a degree they forgot (or were oblivious to) her talent as a comedic actress. (Carole Lombard and a few others were able to overcome that handicap, but they tended to be the exception to the rule.) How else do you explain Loni playing both Jayne Mansfield and Thelma Todd in made-for-TV movies? More's the pity.

BTW, I believe in the initial WKRP episodes, her Jennifer character was your archetypal buxom "dumb blonde." When the show came back from a brief hiatus, she had been retooled as a smart cookie, and was far more interesting. (Someone should write a fanfic explaining the metamorphosis. Perhaps some UC or Xavier professors employed her as a research subject, thus causing the change. Or maybe some particular incident altered her personality forever.)