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.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, September 2

New Girl - "Cruise" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Jess and Nick invite the gang along with them on a cruise they booked while still together as a couple. Coach tries to suppress his fear of boating, Schmidt attempts to win back Cece and Winston tries to mend Jess and Nick’s fractured relationship.

The Mindy Project - "Danny and Mindy" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Mindy thinks she’s met the man of her dreams after he writes a description of their encounter in a New York newspaper, leading to a surprising reveal.

Sullivan & Son - "A Kiss Is Just Never a Kiss" (TBS, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Steve goes all out to impress an exciting new woman, with the help of Melanie. Meanwhile, Hank's doctor prescribes him testosterone, but a mishap leads to a "juiced up" Hank.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of September 1) (All times ET unless noted)

Tuesday, September 2

  • Allison Janney (Mom/Mr. Sunshine) - Catch Allison on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • David Koechner (The Office/Hank) - David stops by @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • George Lopez (Saint George/George Lopez) - George appears on a repeat of The Arsenio Hall Show, so check your local listings.
  • Albert Tsai (Trophy Wife) - Albert is a guest on a repeat of The Arsenio Hall Show, so check your local listings.
  • Seth Green (Dads/Greg the Bunny) - Seth talks about his new film The Identical on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Marlon Wayans (The Wayans Bros.) - Marlon appears on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 3am on BET.
  • Brooklyn Decker (Friends with Better Lives) - Tune in to see Brooklyn on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 3am on BET.
  • Keke Palmer (True Jackson, VP) - Keke is a guest on The Wendy Williams Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.