Monday, January 05, 2009

SitcomsOnline.com Exclusive: Interview with Linda Kay (PerfectStrangers.TV); RTN Update

We have a very exciting interview for you today. We have an interview with Linda Kay of PerfectStrangers.TV! Linda has been a good friend and has been a fan of the TV sitcom Perfect Strangers since its original run on ABC from 1986-1993. As always with our interviews, it is in Seven Questions form!

We had the pleasure to interview Linda Kay. Linda not only runs the website on Perfect Strangers, she also runs the website on Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, in which later this year the website will mark 10 years online. The franchise will also celebrate its 20th anniversary next month. Excellent! Linda updates her websites weekly with constant updates to make older entertainment new once again. Her updates make older entertainment new again, like how websites are constantly updated for newer television series. During the original run of Perfect Strangers, Linda ran a fan club on the show called P.S. I Love You, with many newsletters being published. The newsletters were well-liked and were endorsed by the cast and crew of Perfect Strangers. P.S. I Love You even featured interviews, such as with F.J. O'Neil (who played Mr. Wainwright). We're not ridiculous!

We thank Linda for taking the time to answer some of the most interesting questions we have for her...and her responses were so amazing. So it is time for another installment of SitcomsOnline's Seven Questions Series! We seriously STILL need a jingle. How about a Myposian jingle? Any takers out there?

"Seven Questions with Linda Kay"

SitcomsOnline: Hi Linda, it is so great finally interviewing you! Your Perfect Strangers website is one of the best TV shows sites ever, if not the best. It is truly wonderful and amazing how much information you have! You truly are the "go-to" person for anything Perfect Strangers! I have to ask, how did you get into the show? I know you didn't watch it originally in the first season, but what actually drew you to the show? Did you catch it on TV accidentally or did someone tell you to watch this hilarious comedy?
Linda Kay: Thank you, Cousin Pavan! I'm really honored to be asked about the Perfect Strangers website, which you yourself have championed even before it was launched! Thank you very much for your kind words about the site. You're right, I wasn't a big fan of the show from the very beginning. I used to catch an episode every now and again. I don't think I ever saw it on Tuesday night during its first six-week run. I must not have been home on Tuesday because I don't recall watching Growing Pains or Who's the Boss? in 1986, either. When Perfect Strangers moved to Wednesday, I would put it on sometimes. To be honest, my first impressions weren't particularly favorable. I thought it was a poor knock off of Laverne & Shirley. Plus, I was another victim of the cynical side of television then. I thought the "feel-good" endings were unrealistic. I kept expecting everything to go wrong, like the twists at the end of Taxi. But something made me keep putting it on and giving it another chance. I recall very specifically the first time the episode "Snow Way to Treat a Lady" aired. I don't remember the part with the skis, so I must have tuned in partway through. When I saw it was a "snowbound in a remote cabin" plot I actually said out loud to the television, "There is nothing original you can do with this." Then the avalanche hit and they opened the door to reveal Larry pressed up against it by the snow. And I laughed and said, "Touché." That's when I really started giving the show the respect it deserved and watching more carefully. I even started videotaping episodes to watch later. When I saw a repeat of the episode "Beautiful Dreamer" in the summer of 1987, it melted my heart and I was converted forever.

SitcomsOnline: I know you told Retroality.TV about how you started your fan club newsletter "P.S. I Love You" in 1989. So I'll ask something different about it. How did you guys compile all that information? How big was this fan club? Was it a team effort? And for you readers out there, Linda sent me many copies of the newsletters...and they are very well done. I spent hours reading them!
Linda Kay: Oh, go on with you! I compiled the information from a variety of sources. I used to visit the International News Stands in L.A. and go through tons of magazines every week. I would also watch and record all the entertainment news shows I could, as well as local news. But the fans who subscribed to the newsletter were really invaluable to me. They would send in articles, not only from all over the United States but from all over the world! In that way it was definitely a team effort. I had a few real standout members: Cousin Paula became a really good friend and she was brilliant at researching things, even from Pennsylvania (remember, this was before the Internet was commonplace!), Cousins Cindy and Carol, Cousin Lynn, Cousin Cheryl...there are far too many to name! Putting together the newsletter...the actual cutting and pasting and folding and mailing part of it...was all done by me. But without the great information network provided by the fans, it wouldn't have been nearly as interesting to read. It's much the same now on our Forums...so many fans contribute news and stories that I wouldn't have known about otherwise. In this way fan clubs and websites really are collaborative efforts.
The original fan club membership never numbered more than fifty, surprisingly. Back then there really weren't any places to advertise television fan clubs that were affordable, and people didn't really even think to look for fan clubs for comedy shows (unlike science fiction programs). And while the production company supported our efforts, they wouldn't allow us access to the addresses of fans writing in to the show or mail out information about our club. We weren't even really allowed to promote the club at filmings (although I was often able to recruit members from people sitting near me who loved the show). But the enthusiasm and love for the show that existed amongst the members more than made up for the small numbers.

SitcomsOnline: You attended many tapings of the show. Can you share some memorable moments from these tapings and where was the show taped? Did you ever go to a taping from one of your personal favorite episodes? Imagine going to the taping of the Bibbibabka episode!
Linda Kay: The show was filmed at the old MGM Studios in Culver City (when it was known as the Lorimar Studio lot). I feel so thankful that I lived in the Los Angeles area during those years and was able to attend the filmings of the show beginning with the third season. Every show was amazing...it was like watching these great actors in a different play every week! And it was very, very professional. The earlier filmings ran like clockwork. No other show filmed as quickly! Everyone, the cast and crew, knew exactly what they were doing. It was incredible to watch and so educational. As for memorable moments, I think the night Bronson and Mark accidentally cracked their heads together during the filming of "Assertive Training" would have to be one. Although I was seated way to the far right of the stage and didn't see it happen at all. I had no idea how serious it was. I just knew that something happened to stop the filming and the audience seemed concerned. Now normally Robert G. Lee would do the warm up comedy, and he was always very good about giving me episode titles and filling me in on what was happening. But he wasn't there that night, and the warm up comedian was giving me a hard time about my taking notes during the show. I didn't even know how badly hurt they'd been until I saw Bronson talking about it on a talk show. The fact that they finished the show and even came out to answer questions afterward made it seem everything was okay, so those of us to the sides really didn't even understand what had happened.
I was not lucky enough to see the Bibbibabka episode filmed, but I did get to see the filming of the other classic episode from the third season, "Pipe Dreams." That was really memorable. All the scenes with the plumbing exploding had been filmed in advance, so they showed the audience a rough cut of the scenes on the studio monitors. Bronson and Mark climbed up into the bleachers and sat down on the steps to watch along with the audience! The laughter went on for so long...the reaction was priceless. They never used "Applause" signs on the audience at the filmings...the audiences reacted with genuine laughter and applause. That's the magic of great writing, acting and directing all coming together at once.

SitcomsOnline: PerfectStrangers.TV is certainly an amazing website. It really needs to be nominated for one of the best websites list that Entertainment Weekly does each year. The site is updated every Tuesday, but one may wonder, how is that possible for a show that ended over 15 years ago? Your personal library for the show must be amazing! Probably multiple versions of each episode and the cast on just about everything they have done?
Linda Kay: Wwowww! Coming from the Sitcom Guru, that's wonderful praise! One of the main reasons I started the site is because I had such a large amount of information about the show and I wanted to share it with a larger audience than I was able to do back when it was on the air. I did amass a very large collection, and now with online technology I can not only share news and stories but photos, video and so much more than I was ever able to do before. I have to give thanks to Cousin Paula's family for giving me the chance to purchase her collection as well. Next to myself, I believe Paula had one of the largest collections anywhere. She had also purchased many more scripts than I had, so that's been an incredible resource for the episode outlines. She took over production on the newsletter when I had moved on to other projects in 1993, producing two more issues than there would have been otherwise. I had forgotten that at the time I sent her all of my scrapbooks of articles and clippings. When I started the website, I was frantically trying to find these books and had given them up for lost. But fortunately they were included with the items Paula's family sent to me. There's also current news to cover. The actors are, for the most part, still very active in the business. And then Warner Bros. Home Video finally released the first and second seasons of the show on DVD this year, which seems to have sparked a resurgence of interest in the series. So with all this material I should be able to continue to provide fresh weekly updates for some time to come!

SitcomsOnline: What parts of the website do you like the best and what do you wish you can add to the website in the future? You can go decades probably updating your "Tell Me Something I Don't Know" section. I love that! Wouldn't it be cool for you to interview the cast now for a feature on your website? I'm sure they remember you!
Linda Kay: I would love to interview anyone from the cast and crew of the show! Hopefully that will happen at some point. Right now I'm focusing on getting the basic information up, especially the episode outlines. I think that's my favorite thing to work on right now. I have learned so much more about the series than I ever did before just by putting those together and examining each episode so closely. The information on the site is way more detailed than anything I ever published in the newsletters. I want to expand and complete all the Actors Profiles as well. There's certainly a lot more I can (and will) do down the line!

SitcomsOnline: Do the comedies of today compare to sitcoms like Perfect Strangers? If so, what is missing today in your mind? What are some of your other favorite sitcoms--past and present?
Linda Kay: To be honest, there really aren't any sitcoms I watch today. This isn't to say there aren't any good sitcoms on the air, I just don't tend to catch them. The few episodes of Scrubs I have seen have been funny, and I watched an episode of My Name is Earl, the other day which really made me laugh. I used to watch some of the shows on CBS on Monday when Everybody Loves Raymond was still on. So I really can't speak against any shows of today. But I will say that I don't think there are any shows which focus on physical comedy any more. Kevin James did a bit on his show, The King of Queens, which I also enjoyed. But more than that, I don't think many shows on television today (sitcoms or otherwise) are particularly "nice." But then, back when Perfect Strangers first aired, it was unusually "nice" even then. "Nice" just hasn't been popular for some time. But I think we need "nice" shows, if for no other reason than to just relax and laugh for twenty-three minutes without having to think too much. This is why classic shows are still so classic...I Love Lucy is something you can just put on and laugh at without being cynical. There's nothing wrong with cynical and biting comedy (in fact I love Family Guy, whose consulting producer, Tom Devanney, worked on Perfect Strangers) but variety is the spice of life. There's room for classic-style sitcoms as well.
As for past sitcoms, I do have many favorites, including I Love Lucy, The Odd Couple, Laverne & Shirley, The Monkees, Bosom Buddies, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Gilligan's Island, Get Smart, Three's Company, Taxi, Soap, and Frasier. And I love British comedy, such as The Goodies, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Black Adder and Red Dwarf. I also think Ernie Kovaks was a comedy genius, as was Steve Allen. The Steve Allen Show when he had Don Knotts and Tom Poston and Pat Harrington, Jr. and Louis Nye and Gabe Dell...now that was comedy!

SitcomsOnline: Finally, it is so sad Perfect Strangers hasn't gotten the rerun play as say similar era shows like Family Matters (its spin-off!). Do you think a reunion show would be good to have? Retrospective ones are usually the way to go these days, with the cast gathering talking about the show, like we saw with Happy Days and One Day at a Time. But wouldn't it be cool to have Balki in 2009? I mean if The Facts of Life and Growing Pains got to do actual continuation movies, why can't Perfect Strangers? Bronson Pinchot (Balki) and Mark Linn-Baker (Larry) are still acting and Belita Moreno (Lydia) and Sam Anderson (Mr. Gorpley) have been working steadily in supporting roles on George Lopez and Lost. But it would be nice to see Melanie Wilson (Jennifer) and Rebeca Arthur (Mary Anne) again!
Linda Kay: I've always been confused as to why Perfect Strangers never did well in syndication after its first daytime run on ABC weekdays back when the show was still on in prime time. But it never has. And sadly these days with television audiences out of sight means out of mind. I'll be honest and say that overall I'm pretty skeptical about reunion shows. Sometimes they can come across as trying to relive past glories to a sad effect. But I would love to see the cast together again in some capacity, whether it was a made-for-TV reunion movie (in the hands of the Perfect Strangers alumni it could be done well) or just a special which brings everyone back together to reminisce about the show. I would never say I didn't want to see something like that...don't be ridiculous! Bronson recorded a few ringtones as Balki while he was appearing on The Surreal Life, so who knows? Maybe it isn't out of the question!

SitcomsOnline: Thank you for your time and I am so glad we are friends! You are great and so is your website! Fans remember to go to PerfectStrangers.TV to find any information related to Perfect Strangers and talk with other fans there as well. Linda has it all! Even rare videos. Where else can you watch a clip of Bronson Pinchot on Circus of the Stars? Stay tuned right here for continued updates on the show and PerfectStrangers.TV!
Linda Kay: Thank you, Cousin Pavan, for giving me a chance to answer your questions. I'm certainly glad we're friends, too. Everyone should realize that you were a great motivator in getting this site up and running when I was on the precipice trying to decide whether or not to take the plunge. But now that I'm here, the water's great!

Our thanks once again to Linda Kay, we wish her continued success! Our apologies to Matt Damon, we ran out of time. For more information on Linda Kay, continue to stay with us for info and don't forget to view her Perfect Strangers website PerfectStrangers.TV. So, stay tuned right here on the blog for continued news on Linda and the show!


We have gotten e-mails and inquires on why some RTN affiliates have been replaced with a message or other programming since yesterday. It's NOT every RTN station. There are many out there still programming RTN programming. Here is a statement from RTN:
Equity Media Holdings Corporation (EMHC) announced that its agreement to service Retro Programming Services, located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the RTN Network has expired. Equity Media sold Retro Programming Services, Inc. to Luken Communications, LLC, in a stock transaction on June 24, 2008, and pursuant to the sale EMHC agreed to provide services to the network from its Little Rock headquarters including transmission, trafficking, programming and accounting for a period of six months.
EMHC attempted to coordinate a seamless transition but despite repeated attempts to communicate with Luken Communications representatives, it received no response.
Aaron Rothberg, Corporate Director of Technical Operations for EMHC, noted "I have worked with the RTN affiliates for over 3 years and it is my hope that the Luken RTN operation will be able to provide the same high quality service that we have but I am concerned since I am not aware of any coordination with the RTN affiliates."
Equity Media further announced that its stations which had carried the RTN Network programming will no longer do so, but will be replaced with a variety of quality and entertaining programming.
All the other stations owned by Equity Media, which includes Univision, FOX, Telefutura, ABC and MyNetworkTV affiliates, as well as existing third party broadcast station clients, will be unaffected by the expiration of the RTN relationship.
So what does this all mean? We will try and answer that as soon as we have more information. Stay tuned... But for now, do let us know on our message board if your RTN station is on or not.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (October/November/December)

2 Broke Girls - The Complete Third Season Two and a Half Men - The Complete Eleventh Season WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Series Hot in Cleveland - Season Five Sgt. Bilko - The Phil Silvers Show - The Complete Series
Family Ties - The Complete Series Happy Days - The Sixth Season The Jeffersons - The Complete Series Mister Ed - The Complete Series Mork & Mindy - The Complete Series

10/07 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Classic Christmas Episodes
10/07 - The Flying Nun - The Complete First and Second Seasons (Mill Creek)
10/07 - The Middle - The Complete Fifth Season (Warner Archive)
10/07 - The Office - The Complete Series
10/07 - The Wonders Years - Season One
10/10 - The Wonder Years - The Complete Series - Read Our Review / The Signature Edition / Seasons 1-3
10/14 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Third Season
10/14 - Two and a Half Men - The Complete Eleventh Season
10/21 - Married with Children - Seasons 5 and 6 (Mill Crek)
10/21 - The Soul Man - The Complete Second Season
10/21 - Square Pegs - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
10/28 - WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Series / Read Our Review
11/04 - Hot in Cleveland - Season Five
11/04 - Napoleon Dynamite - The Complete Animated Series
11/04 - Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show) - The Complete Series
11/11 - Dads - The Complete Series
11/11 - Family Ties - The Complete Series
11/11 - My Favorite Martian - Best of Collection
11/11 - Taxi - The Complete Series
11/11 - Wings - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
11/18 - King of the Hill - The Complete Seventh Season / The Complete Eighth Season
11/25 - Better Off Ted - The Complete Second Season
12/02 - Happy Days - The Sixth Season
12/09 - Barney Miller - The Complete Sixth Season
12/09 - The Jeffersons - The Complete Series
12/09 - Mister Ed - The Complete Series
12/09 - Mork & Mindy - The Fourth Season / The Complete Series
12/16 - The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis - The Final (Fourth) Season
12/23 - My Favorite Martian - Season Two - Collector's Edition
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Friday, November 21

Last Man Standing - "Changing Light Bulbs" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Mike realizes Vanessa has given away his remaining and beloved incandescent light bulbs, he and Chuck go on a mission to track down some of the old-school bulbs. Meanwhile, Mandy announces she’s moving out of the house into her own apartment but leaves out a major detail.

Cristela - "Enter Singing" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Cristela, wanting to expose the kids to more cultural opportunities, tries to convince Felix to let Henry see “West Side Story.” But in doing that, Felix worries that his son’s interests will be changing and they won’t have as much in common as he gets older.

Girl Meets World - "Girl Meets Friendship" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
A lesson about forms of government inspires Lucas, Riley and Farkle to each run for 7th-grade class president.

Jessie - "Ride to Riches" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Jessie's in a rush to make an audition when she and Ravi end up on a game-show inside of their taxi called ``Ride to Riches.''

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of November 17) (All times ET unless noted)

Friday, November 21

  • Michael Cera (Arrested Development) - Watch Michael on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Norman Lear (Producer of All in the Family/Sanford and Son/The Jeffersons/Good Times) - Catch Norman on The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS. He talks about his book (Even This I Get to Experience) with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Cristin Milioti (A to Z/How I Met Your Mother) - Cristin appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Martin Short (Mulaney/The Martin Short Show) - Martin discusses his new book on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Kate Walsh (Bad Judge) - Kate talks about Bad Judge on LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings.
  • Anna Camp (The Mindy Project) - Anna chats about Disney Channel's Sofia the First: The Curse of Princess Ivy on LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings.
  • Chelsa Peretti (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) - Chelsea talks about her Netflix comedy special Chelsea Pettri: One of the Greats on The Wendy Williams Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations. She is also tentatively scheduled to appear on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Valerie Harper (Rhoda/The Mary Tyler Moore Show/Valerie) - Valerie joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Emeril Lagasse (Emeril) - Emeril co-hosts Rachael Ray for their Thanksgiving two-day event, so check your local listings.
  • Allison Janney (Mom/Mr. Sunshine) - Allison chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Holly Robinson Peete (Hangin' with Mr. Cooper/For Your Love) - Holly joins the Plugged In panel on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Maria Canals Barrera (Cristela/Wizards of Waverly Place) - Maria joins the Plugged In panel on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Kristin Chenoweth (Kristin) - Kristin will be on Fox and Friends on Fox News Channel at 8:22am.