Monday, January 31, 2022

Remembering Howard Hesseman of WKRP in Cincinnati and Head of the Class; Nick Renews That Girl Lay Lay for Season 2

Howard Hesseman

Actor Howard Hesseman, who starred as malcontent disc jockey Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati and as history teacher Charlie Moore on Head of the Class, has died. He died from complications of colorectal surgery in Los Angeles, California, on January 29. Mr. Hesseman was 81.

Hesseman's early sitcom guest appearances included The Andy Griffith Show (2 episodes), Rhoda, Sanford and Son, Laverne & Shirley, Blansky's Beauties and Husbands, Wives & Lovers. He had a recurring role as Dr. Robert Williams on 13 episodes of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman from 1976 to 1977. He appeared as Craig Plager, a member of the group therapy ensemble who was later revealed to be gay, on five episodes of The Bob Newhart Show from 1974 to 1978. In several other episodes of the show, his voice can be heard as a TV announcer (Augie). He had a recurring role as Mr. Franklin on seven episodes of Soap in 1977.

He starred as anti-disco disc jockey Dr. Johnny Fever (real name John R. Caravella) on the 1978-1982 CBS sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati. Dr. Johnny Fever is a veteran disc jockey who comes to WKRP after being fired from a major Los Angeles station when he said "booger" on the air. Hesseman prepared for the role by working as a DJ in San Francisco at KMPX-FM for several months. He received two Emmy nominations for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 1980 and 1981. He wrote an episode in 1981 and directed an episode in 1982. The cast included Gary Sandy, Gordon Jump, Loni Anderson, Richard Sanders, Frank Bonner, Jan Smithers and Tim Reid.

Bonnie Franklin and Howard Hesseman - One Day at a Time

Hesseman had a recurring role as Sam Royer on 16 episodes of the the last two seasons (1982-1984) of the CBS sitcom One Day at a Time. Sam Royer is the father of Mark Royer (Boyd Gaines), who is Barbara's (Valerie Bertinelli) boyfriend and later husband. Sam Royer later becomes Ann Romano's (Bonnie Franklin) second husband.

Head of the Class

He next starred as Charlie Moore on the ABC sitcom Head of the Class. Charlie Moore is a history and social studies teacher at Manhattan's Monroe High School (later changed to Millard Fillmore High School in the final season) who teaches the honors program to intellectual geniuses and helps them aim for their dreams. Hesseman left the series after the fourth season in 1990 and was replaced by Scottish comedian Billy Connolly (in his first major American production) as teacher Billy MacGregor for the final season. The cast included William G. Schilling, Jeannetta Arnette, Leslie Bega (seasons 1-3), Dan Frischman, Robin Givens, Khrystyne Haje, Jory Husain (aka Joher Coleman) (seasons 1–3), Tony O'Dell, Brian Robbins, Kimberly Russell, Dan Schneider, Tannis Valley (seasons 1–3; guest, season 5), Rain Pryor (seasons 3-5), Michael DeLorenzo (seasons 4-5), Lara Piper (seasons 4-5), Jonathan Ke Quan (seasons 4-5) and De'voreaux White (seasons 4-5).

Hesseman reprised his role of Dr. Johnny Fever on nine episodes of the 1991-1993 first-run syndicated sitcom The New WKRP in Cincinnati. He appeared on four episodes in the first season and five episodes in season two. He participated in a four-episode story arc as WKRP's overnight DJ in season two, although he left the station (and the series) before the season ended. He also directed two episodes of the series revival in 1993. The cast included Gordon Jump, Richard Sanders, Frank Bonner, Mykel (Mykelti) T. Williamson, Tawny Kitaen and French Stewart.

Some of his other sitcom guest appearances included 9 to 5 (1982), Love, Sidney (1983), Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place (1998), Three Sisters, That '70s Show (3 episodes as Max), Maybe It's Me, It's All Relative, Oliver Beene, Mike & Molly and Fresh Off the Boat (2 episodes as Mr. Royce). He hosted Saturday Night Live three times in 1979, 1982 and 1983.

He played Judge Robert Thompson on three episodes of Boston Legal from 2006 to 2007. Some of his other drama guest appearances included Dragnet 1967, Mannix, The Blue Knight, Harry O, Family, Switch, Baretta, Delvecchio, Westside Medical, Quincy M.E, The Rockford Files, Murder, She Wrote (1985), The Ray Bradbury Theatre (1992), Burke's Law, The Outer Limits (1997), The Practice, Family Law, The Pretender, Touched by an Angel, Level 9, Thieves, Crossing Jordan, Boomtown, House, Psych, John from Cincinnati (2 episodes), ER, Lie to Me, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Drop Dead Diva and Chicago Med.

Hesseman starred as Captain Pete Lassard in the film Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985). Some of his other film credits included Steelyard Blues (1973), Loose Shoes (1978), Private Lessons (1981), Doctor Detroit (1983), This Is Spinal Tap (1984), My Chauffeur (1986), Flight of the Navigator (1986), Heat (1986), Inside Out (1986), Rubin & Ed (1991), Little Miss Millions (aka Home for Christmas) (1994) and The Sky Is Falling (1999).

Survivors include his third wife of 33 years, actress and acting teacher Caroline Ducrocq.

Howard Hesseman

Mr. Hesseman was a talented and versatile actor. He was funny and memorable on WKRP in Cincinnati and Head of the Class. We thank him for the many laughs and entertainment he brought us during his career. He will be greatly missed.

Share your memories on our WKRP in Cincinnati and Head of the Class message boards. View photos in our galleries.

MeTV Network Remembers Howard Hesseman

Sunday, February 6 at 4:00 p.m. ET

4:00 p.m. WKRP in Cincinnati
"Dr. Fever and Mr. Tide (Part 1)"
Forced to host a disco dance show on TV, Johnny comes up with a new alter ego; the phony, smarmy "Rip Tide."
4:30pm WKRP in Cincinnati
"Dr. Fever and Mr. Tide (Part 2)
Forced to host a disco dance show on TV, Johnny comes up with a new alter ego; the phony, smarmy "Rip Tide."

Decades will have an all-day binge marathon (48 episodes) of WKRP in Cincinnati on Saturday, February 5.

Peter Robbins

We also remember child actor Peter Robbins. He was best known for being the first actor to voice Charlie Brown in the Peanuts animated specials. He died by suicide on January 18 in Oceanside, California. He had a lifelong battle with mental illness. Mr. Robbins was 65.

Robbins provided the voice of Charlie Brown, whom he considered to be his childhood hero, in one television documentary, six Peanuts television specials and one movie from 1963 to 1969, including the film A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969) and the television specials A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966).

Blondie

He starred as Alexander Bumstead on the short-lived 1968-1969 CBS sitcom Blondie, which was an updated version of the 1957 TV series that was based on the comic strip of the same name. Alexander Bumstead is the son of Dagwood Bumstead (Will Hutchins) and Blondie (Patricia Harty). The series also starred Jim Backus, Pamelyn Ferdin, Henny Backus, Bobbi Jordan and Bryan O'Bourne.

Peter Robbins in The Munsters

Robbins played Elmer Dudley in The Munsters episode "Rock-a-Bye Munster" in 1964. Some of his other sitcom guest appearances included The Donna Reed Show, The Farmer's Daughter, The Joey Bishop Show, Love on a Rooftop, F Troop, Get Smart and My Three Sons.

His drama guest appearances included Rawhide, The F.B.I. and Bracken's World. He appeared as Grover Martin in the 1963 film A Ticklish Affair, which starred Shirley Jones, Gig Young and Red Buttons. He played Brandon in the 1967 film Good Times, which starred Sonny & Cher.

Mr. Robbins retired from the entertainment industry in 1972, and later pursued his career in real estate, with brief stints in radio. We thank him for his voice work as Charlie Brown and his appearances on television. He will be missed.

Share your memories on our message board. View photos in our galleries.


That Girl Lay Lay

Nickelodeon announced that it has greenlit a 13-episode second season of its hit live-action multi-camera buddy comedy That Girl Lay Lay. The series follows Lay Lay (Alaya "That Girl Lay Lay" High), an avatar from a personal affirmation app that magically comes to life, and her best friend Sadie (Gabrielle Nevaeh Green) as they navigate life as teenagers and discover who they truly are. Season one of That Girl Lay Lay shattered records this Fall with premieres delivering double digit gains on Thursday nights and consistent #1 rankings in the time slot across all TV among K6-11. That Girl Lay Lay follows Lay Lay, a virtual hype avatar who magically comes to life after her best friend Sadie wishes on a star. For her work on the series, That Girl Lay Lay is currently nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the "Outstanding Performance by a Youth (Series, Special, Television Movie or Limited-Series)" category. Season two of That Girl Lay Lay will begin production early this year in Los Angeles with a premiere slated for this summer on Nickelodeon.

Season two of the series will bring more music and magical powers as the two best friends continue to go on even more exciting adventures, working to fulfill Lay Lay's desire to experience everything that comes with being a real teenager. That Girl Lay Lay also stars Peyton Perrine III as Sadie's brother, Marky; Tiffany Daniels as Sadie's mom, Trish; and Thomas Hobson as Sadie's dad, Bryce.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Friday, February 3

Lopez vs. Lopez - "Lopez vs Los Doyers" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Quinten joins George's fantasy baseball league, he hits a home run with the guys but strikes out with Mayan; Chance finds out Rosie's using him in her insurance ads and turns into a total diva.

Young Rock - "Once Upon a Time In..." (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Pat Patterson finds love in Boston, Andre the Giant meets his destiny in Paris and Peter Maivia teaches Sean Connery how to fight in Dwayne's tales of their younger years.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 30)

Friday, February 3

  • Eddie Murphy (The PJs) - Watch Eddie on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • D'Arcy Carden (The Good Place/Barry) - D'Arcy appears on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Tyler James Williams (Abbott Elementary/Go On/Everybody Hates Chris) - Tyler is a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Kenan Thompson (Kenan/Kenan & Kel) - Kenan appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Will Arnett (Murderville/Arrested Development/Flaked/The Millers/Up All Night/Running Wilde) - Will is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Harrison Ford (Shrinking) - Harrison talks about the prequel series 1923 on NBC's Today some time between 7-9am and on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Wendell Pierce (The Odd Couple/The Michael J. Fox Show/The Weber/The Brian Benben Show/The Gregory Hines Show) - Wendell unpacks the new TV series Accused on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Craig Robinson (Killing It/Ghosted/Mr. Robinson/The Office/Lucky) - Craig is a guest on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jennifer Grey (Red Oaks/It's Like, You Know...) - Jennifer talks about taking on the controversial role of religious leader and Christian diet guru in her Lifetime film Gwen Shamblin: Starving for Salvation on Tamron Hall, so check your local listings.
  • Rita Moreno (One Day at a Time/Happily Divorced/9 to 5) - Rita appears on The Jennifer Hudson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Connie Britton (SMILF/Lost at Home/The Fighting Fitzgeralds/Spin City) - Connie talks about Dear Edward on CBS Mornings some time between 7-9am.
  • Anthony Anderson (black-ish/Guys with Kids/All About the Andersons) - Anthony discusses his "Get Real with Diabetes" campaign on Access Daily with Mario & Kit, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (November-February)

Frasier - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Ghosts - Season One Hogan's Heroes - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Ten Growing Pains - The Complete Series

11/08 - Frasier - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
11/08 - Young Rock - Season Two (Blu-ray) (DVD)
11/15 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Seven / The Complete Season Eight
11/22 - That '70s Show - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
11/29 - Ghosts - Season One (Blu-ray) (DVD)
12/06 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - 70th Anniversary Ultimate Christmas Collection
12/13 - And Just Like That... - The Complete First Season
12/13 - Hogan's Heroes - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
01/03 - Andy Richter Controls the Universe - The Complete Series (2023 Release)
01/27 - Master of None - Season Three / The Complete Series
02/21 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Nine / The Complete Season Ten
02/28 - Growing Pains - The Complete Series
More Recent and Upcoming TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

02/03 - NBC Renews Night Court for Season 2; CBS and Fox Pick Up Dramas for 2023-24
02/02 - Paramount+ Begins Production on Frasier; Blindspotting Premieres 2nd Season in April
02/01 - Hulu to Revive King of the Hill; Apple TV+ Orders Season 3 of Acapulco
01/31 - Remembering Sitcom Legend Cindy Williams of Laverne & Shirley; HBO's The Last of Us Renewed for Season 2
01/30 - Paramount+ Series Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Launches Feb. 16; Remembering Lisa Loring of The Addams Family
01/29 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 30, 2023)
01/28 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Neil Patrick Harris Reprises Character on How I Met Your Father; Rick and Morty Co-Creator Fired From Series
01/27 - NBC Celebrates Carol Burnett's 90th Birthday in April; Fox Renews The Simpsons, Family Guy and Bob's Burgers for 2 Seasons Each; Remembering Yoshio Yoda of McHale's Navy and Carole Cook of The Lucy Show
01/26 - CBS Renews Bob Hearts Abishola for Season 5; Marc Maron HBO Special Premieres February 11
01/25 - BUZZR Wigs Out for Laughs on Friday; The CW's Comedic Launches
01/24 - CBS Renews The Neighborhood for Season 6; Lifetime's New February Ripped from the Headlines Movies Starring Chrishell Stause and Samantha Mathis
01/23 - OWN Acquires Insecure Starting in February; Season 2 of Bel-Air Gets Tatyana Ali to Recur
01/22 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 23, 2023)
01/21 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Night Court a Success for NBC; South Park Season 26 Premiere Date Set
01/20 - Amazon Freevee Orders The Pradeeps of Pittsburgh; ABC's 20th Anniversary of Jimmy Kimmel Live!
01/19 - TCA Winter 2023 Press Tour: Apple TV+; HBO's Rain Dogs Premieres March 6
01/18 - getTV Reveals Magnum P.I. Timeslot; Onyx Collective Bringing More Programming to Hulu
01/17 - TCA Winter 2023 Press Tour: Hulu, NBCUniversal; Antenna TV Valentine's Day Marathon
01/16 - Zoey 101 Movie Zoey 102 Coming Soon to Paramount+; Starz Picks Up Minx
01/15 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 16, 2023)
01/14 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Pair of Popular Broadcast Sitcoms Renewed for Third Season; Malcolm in the Middle Movie in the Works?
01/13 - TCA Winter 2023 Press Tour: FX; NBC Alters Midseason 2023 Schedule
01/12 - TCA Winter 2023 Press Tour: ABC/Freeform; Antenna TV's Designing Women Super Belle Special
01/11 - All in the Family Coming to MeTV; 80th Golden Globe Winners
01/10 - SAG Nominations Live on Instagram Live; Remembering Earl Boen of It's a Living and Adam Rich of Eight Is Enough
01/09 - Wednesday Is Netflix's Top Hit of the Year; CBS Renews Fire Country
01/08 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 9, 2023)
01/07 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Wednesday to Get Second Season at Netflix; Call Me Kat Pays Tribute to Leslie Jordan
01/06 - SNL Announces Guest Hosts, Including Aubrey Plaza; Paramount+ Orders Series Starring Nicole Kidman
01/05 - Stop-Motion Animated Series Shape Island Premieres January 20 on Apple TV+; ABC's New Year's Eve Coverage is Still Rockin'
01/04 - Full House Removed from MeTV; Return to Outer Banks for Season 3 on February 23 on Netflix
01/03 - getTV Acquires Magnum, P.I.; Game Show Network's Newest Game Show