People used to ask me what to do if there were two movies of the week on at the same time, which one they should watch.
It was a good question. I didn't know who won WWII but I knew that Tori Spelling starred in, Mother, May I Sleep With Danger? in 1996. I'm the Zagat Guide of Movies of the Week, or as we aficionados used to call them, MoMo's.
If you had a choice between a Melissa Gilbert vehicle and a Kelli Martin vehicle, you went with Kelli because, as hard as Melissa tried to make the wife of a famous director, turned hooker, working in the Barrio, to help pay for her son's piano lessons, believable, she'd always be Half-pint, from Little House of the Prairie.
A Meredith Baxter Birney star turn (now just Baxter) or a Joanna Kearns one, was always trickier. Meredith was a workhouse. She'd been on television long before Family Ties, and that meant something.
She started her illustrious career in an episode of the Patridge Family, entitled, Where Do Mermaids Go?, playing the character of Jenny. She played another character named Jenny in an episode of Barnaby Jones, called, "The Deadly Jinx." The Streets of San Francisco, McMillan and Wife and a The Love Boat three parter quickly followed.
American television viewers, of a certain age, knew her best as Nancy, the older sister of Buddy, in the drama, Family. The woman had been in over 30 MoMo's. She even produced some of them. But who could forget the 1994 television MoMo, My Breast.
Then there was Joanna Kearns. She started in episodic as well; Chips, Quincy, The Walton's. However, it wasn't the original series. It was, Mother's Day on Walton's Mountain.
She'd only been in a dozen or so MoMo's. My recommendation was Meredith.
If it was between the Tracy's; Tracey Gold, Tracy Pollan or Tracy Nelson, I went with Tracey Gold because it took courage to star in, For The Love of Sarah, which was based on her own struggle with anorexia.
Actors playing themselves in their real life stories was dangerous territory. When Ann Jillian starred in the Ann Jillian Story, in 1988, after her double mastectomy, it was too real. I'm sorry, but it was. Joan and Melissa Rivers starred in their life story and, I don't mean any disrespect to Joan, but they were both unconvincing as themselves.
Forget about period pieces. I never wanted to see Antonio Sabato Jr. playing a soldier in the Civil War, or as a Pilgrim. I felt the same way about accents. Nancy McKeon speaking the Queen's English was hard on the ears.
I enjoyed seeing actors being interviewed about their MoMo characters. Heather Locklear played a mental patient on the lam in, The Terror Inside, and one interviewer commented, "I understand you visited a mental institution for research and you didn't wear any make-up." Heather responded, "Yeah, that part was hard cause I like to wear make-up but I knew the character wouldn't."
Let us never forget that Farrah Fawcett, may she rest in MoMo peace, redefined her career when she starred in the biggest and boldest MoMo ever, The Burning Bed. Critics around the world stood up and declared, "She is not just an erect nipple on a poster."
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