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Friday, September 28, 2012

NEW: My WellBella interview with Suzanne Somers!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Retroality's "Reimagine That!" podcast, episode 13! ............................................................ Chris Mann's special guests: Greg Lott (Part 3 of 3), remembers his longtime secret love, Farrah Fawcett; and "Retired at 35" star Johnathan McClain on his Funny or Die videos, his "Happy Days" connection and conjuring his "inner Leather"

Greg Lott, Pt 3; "Retired at 35" star Johnathan McClain ... It's a "Reimagine That!" double matinee, featuring lively interviews with TV Land's "Retired at 35" star Johnathan McClain and, in part three of his three-part Retroality.TV exclusive, Farrah Fawcett's longtime secret lover, Greg Lott.

First, McClain spills on the second season of "Retired at 35," premiering June 26 on TV Land. The 42-year-old actor explains how "35" is evolving into more of an ensemble family sitcom (cough cough, “Happy Days”?!?) with the addition of Marissa Jaret Winokur ("Hairspray") as his sister—a heretofore largely MIA character who may indeed be the love child of Chuck Cunningham and Jenny Piccolo. Watching and learning from his TV parents—Hollywood legends George Segal (“Just Shoot Me!,” “The Longest Day”) and Jessica Walter (“Arrested Development,” “Play Misty for Me”)—McClain tells how he reimagined his life at 35 and beyond while merging his realities of being a New York stage actor and a Los Angeles sitcom star. Among his small-screen experiences: Being cast in Jessica Simpson’s ABC sitcom pilot and surviving Jenny McCarthy’s failed UPN sitcom “The Bad Girl’s Guide." (The latter of which taped on the same Paramount soundstage where Fonzie loved Pinky, where a pre- and post-spun-off Joanie loved Chachi—and where, 20 years later, McClain would find his “inner Leather.”) Finally, McClain talks about his buzzed-about Funny or Die political satire videos featuring “Lost” star Michael Emerson, “Eight is Enough” references and more!

Next … on a more serious note commemorating the third anniversary of her tragic death from cancer on June 25, 2009, Farrah Fawcett’s longtime secret lover, Greg Lott, opens up about Farrah’s struggles with Ryan O’Neal and son Redmond’s heavily publicized drug problems. In this final installment of his in-depth three-part Retroality.TV interview, Lott reveals how he—not the cancer-stricken Ryan O’Neal—was Farrah’s true love in the final 11 years of her life. He also offers additional thoughts on Alana Stewart and explains why he’s had such a difficult time getting the U.S. media to allow him to tell his story.

Also, in the show monologue I give a shout out to my friend, TV historian/author David Hofstede, who just launched his own blog, "Comfort TV" (

Finally … in the conclusion of her two-part “coming to America” story, dream analyst Yvonne Ryba tells how her nocturnal subconscious paved the way for her own spiritual reinvention once she moved from England to Texas in the “Dallas”-rich 1980s.

Host: Chris Mann

Announcer: Linda Kay

Created by: Chris Mann

Producers: Linda Kay, Chris Mann

Copyright 2012 by Chris Mann/Retroality.TV (http://Retroality.TV)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Retroality's "Reimagine That!" podcast, episode 12! ............................................................ Chris Mann's special guest, Greg Lott (Part 2 of 3), sounds off on Farrah Fawcett estate controversies, Ryan O'Neal and Alana Stewart ALSO: Texas-sized dreams, "Dallas" 2.0, young "Three's Company" fans

In the second of three parts, Greg Lott opens up exclusively to Retroality.TV about his secret love affair with the late Farrah Fawcett, whom he first romanced in the mid-1960s during their tenure at the University of Texas.

Here, Lott tells how he was cut out of the TV angel's life -- reportedly by Ryan O'Neal -- two and a half months before the iconic actress succumbed to cancer on June 25, 2009. He also opens up about his role in the UT's investigation into Fawcett's estate -- namely, O'Neal's possession of a highly valuable Andy Warhol portrait of the "Charlie's Angels" star that the UT contends Fawcett bequeathed to her alma mater upon her death. (The UT sued O'Neal last year, demanding he relinquish the artwork, which the "Love Story" star contends he owns. That case is headed to trial this fall.) Lott also reveals his thoughts about Fawcett's friend Alana Stewart and questions the origin of the Stewart-helmed charity The Farrah Fawcett Foundation, which is currrently under investigation by the California Attorney General's Office of Charitable Trust.

On a lighter note ... host Chris Mann discusses the multi-generational allure of the 1978-91 TV hit "Dallas" (revived this month on TNT) and -- thanks to a Jenilee Harrison segue -- marvels at the ongoing youth appeal of the 1977-84 classic series "Three's Company." As he prepares a special anniversary edition of his 1998 tell-all book "Come and Knock on Our Door" (due in late 2012 or, if 36th anniversaries count, 2013), Chris salutes the "next generation" of Company fans, including 14-year-old aspiring documentary filmmaker Isaiah Reaves, 23-year-old funnygal-slash-Chrissy Snow-spoofmeister Ashlee Anno and 30something radio producer/"Three's Company Throwdown" trivia king Andy Hermann. (In previous "Reimagine That!" episode(s)/Retroality.TV stories, we've mentioned Sitcoms Online news director and Jack's Bistro webmaster Pavan Patel, who broke news of Suzanne Somers and Joyce DeWitt's recent YouTube reconciliation.)

Finally, our dream weaver Yvonne Ryba recounts her Texas-sized dreams of coming to America in the "Dallas"-rich early 1980s.

Host: Chris Mann

Announcer: Linda Kay

Created by: Chris Mann

Producers: Linda Kay, Chris Mann

Copyright 2012 by Chris Mann/Retroality.TV (http://Retroality.TV)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Retroality's "Reimagine That!" podcast, episode 11! ............................................................ Chris Mann's special guest, Greg Lott, sounds off on his secret 11-year love affair with Farrah Fawcett and disputes Ryan O'Neal's new book "Both of Us" ALSO: Chris's "Groundhog Day"-esque dream

Greg Lott, Pt. 1 ... Farrah Fawcett's secret longtime lover, Greg Lott, opens up in this Retroality.TV exclusive about Ryan O'Neal's contentious new tell-all book, "Both of Us." Here, in the first segment of his explosive three-part interview, Lott -- who famously confronted O'Neal in public on camera after the "Love Story" star reportedly barred Lott from contacting Farrah in her final months in spring 2009 -- strongly refutes O'Neal's less-than-flattering written portrayal of Fawcett, the celebrated Tinseltown couple's tumultuous relationship and her role in raising their troubled son, Redmond, now 27.

Fawcett's college sweetheart before the ethereal beauty left The University of Texas for Hollywood stardom in 1968, Lott lost touch with the iconic TV angel-turned-Emmy-nominated "Burning Bed" and Golden Globe-nominated "Extremities" star during his two incarcerations on drug trafficking charges in the early 1970s and early 1980s. Lott resumed contact with Farrah during her separation from Lee Majors in the late 1970s and again following her split with O'Neal in the late 1990s. As documented by Farrah's love letters to Lott, the longtime friends maintained a private love affair during the final 11 years of her life.

In this installment of Lott's in-depth interview, the onetime UT Longhorn football star also sounds off on controversy surrounding Ryan O'Neal's 2008 felony drug-possession arrest and subsequent guilty plea, Fawcett's living trust and Ryan's related legal troubles with The University of Texas, and Farrah's stormy relationship with producer-director James Orr, who was convicted in 1998 on a misdemeanor charge of beating Fawcett in 1997.

Also ... on a much lighter note, Chris spotlights two new Tinseltown tomes, Suzanne Sumner-Ferry's "The Day the Stars Stood Still: A Memoir about Logan Fleming, the Former Top Wax Artist of Movieland Wax Museum" and Patty Farmer's "The Persian Room Presents: An Oral History of New York's Most Magical Night Spot."

Finally ... resident "Reimagine That!" dream interpreter Yvonne Ryba analyzes host Chris Mann's recurring, "Groundhog Day"-esque dream harking back to his own college days as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper at The University of Tulsa in the early 1990s.

Host: Chris Mann

Announcer: Linda Kay

Created by: Chris Mann

Producers: Linda Kay, Chris Mann

Copyright 2012 by Chris Mann/Retroality.TV (http://Retroality.TV)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Marilu Henner exclusive: My new Wellbella cover story and sneak peak at "Total Memory Makeover"
Check out the April issue of Wellbella magazine, featuring my cover-story interview with
Taxi star-turned-health advocate Marilu Henner. In her first interview about her new book, Total Memory Makeover, she reveals why remembering the past is so important to a healthy present—and even better future.

"Making Memories"

Just because Marilu Henner turns 60 this month doesn’t mean she’s forgotten exactly what it’s like to be a teen—or a 2-year-old, for that matter. The sensual Taxi star- turned-impassioned health advocate is one of about 20 people determined to possess highly superior autobiographical memory (HSAM), which means that she can recall with startling accuracy nearly every day in her life. Her rare gift saw her profiled—while being tested at the University of California, Irvine—on 60 Minutes in 2010. “I went to Irvine and in one day answered more than 400 questions correctly,” Henner says. Not only did she meet the challenge of what she calls “time traveling,” she was downright exhilarated just “to put a name to everything I’ve felt inside but never could identify.”

Read the whole story here.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Retroality's "Reimagine That!" podcast, episode 10! ............................................................ Chris Mann's special guest, iconic series producer-writer-director Kenneth Johnson, talks "V: The Movie," "Alien Nation," Lindsay Wagner; "Reality Reimagined" preview; ALSO: killer bee dream!

Kenneth Johnson, Pt. 2 ... In the conclusion of his extensive "Reimagine That!" interview, iconic series producer/writer/directorKenneth Johnson shares his hopes and plans for his long-awaited, big-budget "V" feature (or triology thereof!), explaining how it will stay true to and reinvigorate his original vision as expressed in his franchise-launching "V" NBC miniseries nearly 30 years ago. The always-forward-thinking creator also opens up about his feminism and the diverse audience affection for "The Bionic Woman," and he explains how he and series star Lindsay Wagner have in recent years come full circle in their relationship following a long estrangement. Finally, he offers insight into his experience adapting "Alien Nation" for TV audiences in the late '80s and '90s.

Inspired in part by Kenny's hopes to "reinvigorate" his original "V" vision ("V"ision?), Chris talks about his full-circle journey as a writer/storyteller while previewing an upcoming podcast segment tentatively titled "Realilty Reimagined." 

Finally, our resident dream weaver,Yvonne Ryba, examines a "killer bee" dream and explains how past issues can thematically revisit us via our subconscious.

Host: Chris Mann

Announcer: Linda Kay

Created by: Chris Mann

Producers: Linda Kay, Chris Mann

Copyright 2012 by Chris Mann/Retroality.TV (http://Retroality.TV)

Monday, March 26, 2012

My new Wellbella interview with pop icon Paula Abdul -- on turning 50, falling and rising again

Check out my new Wellbella cover story with pop icon Paula Abdul!

Like the generations of women who’ve related to her struggles and successes, the effervescent Paula Abdul can’t believe she’s reaching 50 in June. But make no mistake: The celebrated, but recently dismissed, “X Factor” judge and “Drop Dead Diva” proclaims, “I’ve only scratched the surface!” Modest words from onetime L.A. Lakers head-cheerleader-turned-breakthrough dancer/choreographer/songwriter-turned-TV-star-and-businesswoman, whose past battles with bulimia and chronic pain have at times overshadowed her Grammy- and Emmy-decorated career highs. But she’s happy to wear the label “survivor.” “I’m no different than anyone else,” she says. “There are days I feel great about myself. And there are days I feel, Wow, I am getting older. When I do feel a little down on myself, I immediately say, ‘I am grateful.’ And I write down all the things I am grateful for.”

For the rest of the story, click here!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Retroality's "Reimagine That!" podcast, episode 9! ............................................................ Chris Mann's special guest, iconic series producer-writer-director Kenneth Johnson, talks "The Bionic Woman," "Hulk," misguided remakes; Davy Jones & Robert Sherman tributes; ALSO, prophetic dreams!

Legendary TV creator-writer-director-producer Kenny Johnson, in the first of an exclusive two-part interview, opens up about his iconic '70s series "The Bionic Woman" and "Incredible Hulk," sharing behind-the-scenes stories and offering candid insights into why others' small-screen and big-screen "reimaginings" of these two franchises failed. The acclaimed and forever-forward-thinking storyteller -- whose 1983 NBC miniseries "V" was also recently rebooted without his involvement and to less-than-steller results -- discusses why heart, humanity and humor were essential in his creations of Jaime Sommers (as embodied by Lindsay Wagner) and David Banner (as personified by the late Bill Bixby), and how all three components were missing in NBC's 2007 "Bionic Woman" reboot and recent CGI-driven "Hulk" motion pictures. Finally, Johnson shares how he got started in television as a director-producer for "The Mike Douglas Show" and game shows (!) and why he parted ways with "The Bionic Woman" when Wagner reached the pinnacle of her celebrity.

Also, "Reimagine That!" announcer and producer Linda Kay shares with Chris some of her fondest memories of late Monkees singer Davy Jones and iconic composer Robert Sherman.

Finally, our dream interpreter Yvonne Ryba analyzes a "mini-series" of prophetic dreams.

Host: Chris Mann

Announcer: Linda Kay

Created by: Chris Mann

Producers: Linda Kay, Chris Mann

Copyright 2012 by Chris Mann/Retroality.TV (http://Retroality.TV)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Retroality's "Reimagine That!" podcast, episode 8! ............................................................ Chris Mann's special guest, "Confessions of a Prairie Bitch" author Alison Arngrim (Pt. 2) on "Little House" relations, Nellie Oleson's world following, pioneering '80s AIDS activism ALSO healing dreams!

The ever-sharp and courageous Alison Arngrim spills on "Little House on the Prairie" titillation, triumphs and travails -- from Michael Landon going sans underwear in Wal-nut Grove (!) to Matthew Laborteaux's breakthrough experiences as a highly-functioning autistic child to pondering how challenging tragic Ingalls sister Mary to a free-spirited mudwrestling match might well have brought down an aloof, teenaged Melissa Sue Anderson's self-erected "wall." Alison also speaks out about Melissa Sue's memoir dish (diss?) on her TV Ma, Karen Grassle; offers fascinating insight into the colorful world of Miss Beadle's portrayer, Charlotte Stewart; reminisces on good times with TV's Half-Pint (and soon-to-be-"Dancing with the Stars" sweetheart), Melissa Gilbert; and, once and for all, answers the question that has plagued "Little House" lovers for years: Did Baby Carrie fall during the opening credits ... or was she PUSHED?!?

Alison also reveals how her late parents' Hollywood careers (Liberace and Casper and Sweet Polly Purebread, oh my!) influenced her reality at a young age that showbusiness was indeed a business. She then opens her heart about late TV husband Steve Tracy ("Percival") and how his struggle with and death from AIDS in 1986 propelled her to become a pioneer AIDS activist in an age of widespread fear and ignorance about the disease. And finally, the bicontinental bestselling "Confessions of a Prairie Bitch" author previews her wordly tours in March through July from Europe to Walnut Grove and beyond.

In addition, Chris gives a roundup of retro TV star appearances this spring on "Dancing with the Stars" and "Celebrity Apprentice" and potentially next fall in a slew of hopeful new series (including Roseanne's proposed NBC sitcom "Downwardly Mobile"). He also touches on Nicollette Sheridan's wrongful termination and battery lawsuit against ABC and "Desperate Housewives" exec producer Marc Cherry. As her case finally goes to trial this week with rumors that her co-stars will testify against her, Chris compares Nicollete's fight with the storied battle that pitted Suzanne Somers against ABC and her "Three's Company" producers and co-stars -- and which led to Somers' decade-long industry blacklisting. (For the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about Suzannegate, read Chris's acclaimed 1998 tell-all "Come and Knock on Our Door" -- and stay tuned this fall for his updated edition in connection with "Three's Company"'s 35th anniversary.)

Finally, our resident dream weaver, Yvonne Ryba, interprets a series of healing dreams.

Host: Chris Mann

Announcer: Linda Kay

Created by: Chris Mann

Producers: Linda Kay, Chris Mann

Copyright 2012 by Chris Mann/Retroality.TV (http://Retroality.TV)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Retroality's "Reimagine That!" podcast, episode 7! ............................................................ Chris Mann's special guest, "Little House" star and "Prairie Bitch" author Alison Arngrim on turning 50, "reuniting" with Melissa Sue Anderson and being a voice for sexual abuse victims ALSO lucid dreams!

Always-witty and outspoken "Little House on the Prairie" star Alison Arngrim spills on everything from hilariously surprising long-estranged co-star Melissa Sue Anderson at her "The Way I See It" book signing (!) to channeling her own inner bitch (in a good way!) through Nasty Nellie Oleson to finding her own voice as a childhood sexual abuse survivor-turned-victims rights advocate closely aligned with In the first half of her two-part "Reimagine That!" interview airing this month, Arngrim sounds off on pedophilia in Hollywood and recent disturbing reports of sexual abuse in the Los Angeles school district. The "Confessions of a Prairie Bitch" bestselling author also dishes on turning 50, taking her one-woman show overseas this spring and teaming up with "Waltons" star Mary McDonough in a kick-ass "Good Girl vs. Bad Girl" joint book tour in late 2011 and 2012. (How you like them apples, Mary Ingalls?!)

Also, Chris shares his recollection of the late Whitney Houston's impact as the voice of a generation during her "Bodyguard" hey day ("And IIIIIIIIIII-eee-iii-eee-iiii will always love youuuuuuu...) while he was editor of his student newspaper in 1992-93 at The University of Tulsa. (RIP, Ms. Houston -- we'll always, we'll always, loooove youuuuuuu-ooooooh-oooooooooooooooh...)

Finally, our resident dream weaver, Yvonne Ryba, interprets one more "house" dream while introducing us to the concept of lucid dreaming.

For more info on Alison:
Check out Alison's Store on Amazon
And she's now on Tumblr too

Host: Chris Mann

Announcer/Karma metaphorist: Linda Kay

Created by: Chris Mann

Producers: Linda Kay, Chris Mann

Copyright 2012 by Chris Mann/Retroality.TV (http://Retroality.TV)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My exclusive Wellbella interview with beautiful "American Horror Story" ★ Alexandra Breckenridge!

Alexandra Breckenridge brings a scary etherealness to her role as the seductive dark side of spooky housekeeper Moira in FX’s new drama series “American Horror Story.” Off set, though, the Connecticut-born actress sustains a much earthier presence. The 29-year-old red-haired beauty, last seen on HBO’s vampire hit “True Blood,” cut her teeth on acting in local theater outside San Francisco at the tender age 12. During those formative, lean years, she also learned how to eat healthy on a budget, thanks to her resourceful mom’s penchant for health-food shopping. The family’s produce-minded frugality paid off: Breckenridge not only saves money and time having organic fruits and veggies delivered to her home, she smartly navigates the snack table on the set to find healthy selections in-between scenes.

Click here for the whole interview!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Retroality's "Reimagine That!" podcast, episode 6! ............................................................ Chris Mann's special guest, "Perfect Strangers" star Bronson Pinchot, on his new DIY show, Balki, Oz & being interNUDE! ALSO house dreams interpreted!

Actor and funnyman Bronson Pinchot reimagines unscripted entertainment by giving his very first INTERNUDE! TV's Balki Bartokomous -- who's back this weekend in the premiere of his new DIY home-restoration series, "The Bronson Pinchot Project" -- goes au naturel in this hysterical interview that exposes his thoughts on everything from reality TV, his love of "Wizard of Oz," overcoming childhood adversity and sharing his "deeply personal and very secret" connection with Balki and "Perfect Strangers" fans. In addition, he shares his creative passion for renovating vintage houses and buildings, and discusses his memorable experience getting a disturbing "house dream" analyzed on Bio's "Celebrity Nightmares Decoded."

Also, Chris gives his assessment of Suzanne Somers' recent reconciliation with Joyce DeWitt -- for more info, see his new Retroality.TV blog post -- and previews his upcoming two-part interview with "Little House on the Prairie" star turned bestselling author and childhood abuse survivor Alison Angrim.

Finally, our resident dream weaver, Yvonne Ryba, interprets some of her fascinating "house dreams" while trying to make sense of Chris's bizarre, circa-early-Eighties dream involving TV's Janet Wood and Chrissy Snow, his front porch and a stampeding bull (!).

Host: Chris Mann

Announcer/"Dance of Joy"-ologist: Linda Kay

Created by: Chris Mann

Producers: Linda Kay, Chris Mann

Copyright 2012 by Chris Mann/Retroality.TV (http://Retroality.TV)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

IN-DEPTH: "Two's Company" YouTube reconciliation .............................................................. What you did and *didn’t* see when Somers finally returned DeWitt's olive branch 15 years later—and why this is a “teaching moment” for Oprah

Re-Joycing in the Somers time ... O, My God, you can almost hear Oprah yell,
News analysis 
joyce dewitt suzanne somers
By Chris Mann

Last week, two sixtysomething Seventies sitcom stars—one still girl-next-door-lovely, the other leather-skirted-Sexy Forever®—emotionally buried their infamous 31-year hatchet in a series of now-viral YouTube videos.

Soon later, there were likely more Aha! Moments at the ratings-challenged, celeb-retrospect-driven Oprah Winfrey Network than at a 1980s David Copperfield special.

And if there weren’t, well, then there should’ve been.

By Saturday, virtually every major media outlet teased, touted and/or embedded footage of media-savvy Suzanne Somers hugging it out with her Three's Company co-star Joyce DeWitt for the first time since the then-third-billed jiggle queen (and future ThighMaster millionaire) was booted from their top-rated ABC comedy after demanding a 500-percent pay hike and then staging a sick-out during the show’s fifth season in fall 1980. Her producers struck back, relegating Somers each week to a humiliating one-minute “phoned in” scene taped apart from her co-stars before firing her in spring 1981.

Stunningly, after extending an olive branch to Somers, 65, multiple times over the last fifteen years—to no avail—DeWitt, 62, accepted an invitation from Somers’ producers in early December to appear on her new talk show, Suzanne Somers Breaking Through, on YouTube’s CaféMom channel.

The historic Company contract battle alienated the theater-trained DeWitt—whose focus on her craft clashed with Somers’ fixation on celebrity—and deeply angered the series’ Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning star, John Ritter, who died days shy of his 55th birthday in September 2003 after trying to reunite the trio in a dream-sequence cameo on his hit ABC sitcom 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.

(Somers, unmoved by what she deemed an insignificant cameo, declined Ritter’s invitation—which he delivered via personal phone call in late 2002—saying she wasn’t “ready” to reunite. Few know she also turned down opportunities to join him and DeWitt in a proposed FOX special in spring 2002 and a CBS Early Show segment in 2001.) 

In spring 2003, DeWitt co-produced a somewhat anti-Somers telefilm spun from a hit Company episode of The E! True Hollywood Story, which itself grew out of my 1998 book Come and Knock on Our Door. Somers previously released her own tell-all, After the Fall, which portrayed DeWitt as deeply insecure and jealous of her fame (DeWitt has adamantly denied the latter claim, saying she has long been confident in her chief showbiz pursuit--her work as an actor.) The women then battled it out on Extra, Inside Edition and Entertainment Tonight.

“For you and me, but also for those people who were aware of the ‘ick,’” an at times choked-up, at times soft and at times somewhat steely Somers told DeWitt of their YouTube reunion, “I think it’s a teaching moment in reconciliation (and) resolution.”

Paging Miss Winfrey, party of three!

“I think that you gave me the opportunity to make sure I walk my talk,” DeWitt told Somers, stressing that CaféMom producers invited her to partake in celebrating their sitcom and their “cherished” co-stars. Since Ritter’s passing, DeWitt has in essence served as the show’s goodwill ambassador, speaking for everyone from late, original cast member Audra Lindley to brief Company player Ann Wedgeworth.

“For the last thirtysomeodd years,” DeWitt added, “I have relentlessly said that it is my opinion that the only reason Three’s Company is worth remembering is that it created an opportunity for all of us to laugh together ... to celebrate joy together, to open our hearts together, to share in such a healing, beautiful thing as laughter.”

But Somers, for the most part it seems, continues to maintain a different focus.

“None of us expected the kind of explosion that happened. I was always afraid that I wasn’t worth it, that I didn’t measure up,” replied the actress turned bestselling self-help/alternative health author, who was a single mom for nearly a decade before marrying Canadian celebrity—and, by 1980, her hot-tempered, in-over-his-head manager—Alan Hamel during the sitcom’s second season. “It was, how do you go from, ‘I just want to make some money,’ to the three of us on the cover of Newsweek (in February 1978)?” 

Suzanne Somers' Newsweek covers, 1978 and 1970 (below)

DeWitt, intent on avoiding contentious matters, brushed past the Newsweek reference. And for good reason: She and Ritter appear as also-rans respectively leaning into and leering over Somers’ scantily-clad body on the magazine cover. In my book, Ritter called the magazine’s shoot “creepy"; DeWitt said she and Ritter felt “used, lied to."

Somers said she, too, was innocent of Newsweek’s focus—and blamed their male, middle-aged producers for keeping the divisive agenda a secret. “I walked into that photo setup as part of an ensemble that night,” she told me in 1997, “and when I walked away, we were removed from one another. It was really never quite the same again.”

"I was told that a second photo session was held secretly with just Suzanne," DeWitt said in the book. "If that's true, then her feeling manipulated is a mystery to me." Countered Somers, "The shot they used was the three of us there that night, and I never shot another [pose]."

Not exactly an International Coffee moment. But, for those who know the compelling back-story, definitely an “aha!” 

(Minutes before introducing DeWitt during their December 2011 taping, Somers told TV Land executive Tom Hill—in a Breaking Through episode premiering late last month—that she sent her as-seen-on-Newsweek negligee to the Smithsonian to display with the cover. Hmmm …)

But that was then, and this is now, right? And all’s well that evolves well. DeWitt and Somers’ lengthy Internet sit-down occasionally segued to areas of common ground: They both sadly lost younger brothers, they both loved and miss Ritter and they both did not appreciate their now-deceased producers’ chauvinism. Oh, and they both still playfully accuse the other of passing gas in a pup tent seconds before Ritter crawled in (!). These moments of genuine connection were truly heartening and encouraging for fans of the show, yours truly included.

DeWitt also fondly brings up co-stars Norman Fell, Don Knotts and Richard Kline. But Somers, while offering a friendly ear, gives little feedback. (Perhaps wisely, neither made mention of Somers’ respective temp and permanent replacements, Jenilee Harrison and Priscilla Barnes—the latter DeWitt’s best friend of 30 years.)

Invariably, Somers returns the discussion to herself. She explains—as she did in her 1988 book Keeping Secrets, its 1991 TV movie, her ill-fated 2005 Broadway show The Blonde in the Thunderbird and at points in between and since—that she’s spent years in therapy to overcome the effects of growing up with an alcoholic father. And how playing the mind-numbingly naive Chrissy Snow gave her a chance to live out her lost childhood. And how, as per DeWitt’s compliment, that she was, indeed, “fabulous.”

DeWitt offers plenty of affirming comments and gestures—they even sweetly hold hands—and Somers sincerely acknowledges she respected her co-star’s masters-level actor training. Their teary-eyed chat ends with “love you’s,” hugs and Somers saying, “Come and knock on my door again.”

So everything’s good now … right?

Well … not exactly “Oprah and Gayle good.” 

Apparently bruised by the mixed reaction she received in online comments—some posts said Somers appeared to be repressing anger and at times “standoffish”—the home shopping guru and new media maven took to Facebook on Friday afternoon.

“I was the one who was fired for asking to be paid commensurate with the men,” Somers says of her reunion with the clearly more relaxed DeWitt. “I don't believe it was fair that the producers and the network used me to make an example so other women in TV would not have the audacity to ask for parody (sic). At the time I felt that the cast left me hanging and that is why I was initially hurt, and then hurt always turns to anger. So if I wasn't as animated as usual, it's because you were watching true feelings and I was working them out in front of you. Forgiveness is a process.”

Somers made similar comments late last month on Access Hollywood and CBS's The Talk--more than six weeks following her reunion with DeWitt. On The Talk, she said she still doesn't think she did anything wrong at Three's Company. That men in television made ten times what she was making, and that she was treated like "a pariah" when her co-stars and crew gave in to her producers' "mob fury" after she asked for a raise. And that the cast, all serious acting vets, already seemed put out with her for her various award-show accolades. (Somers received a People's Choice Award in 1978 and a Golden Globe nomination the following year.) And that, well, it was her producer's idea -- not Somers' -- to invite DeWitt onto Breaking Through. (Of course, no mention was made that DeWitt had personally reached out to her in 1996 and again in 2001/2002 and, at least via media interviews, numerous times since.)

Co-star Richard Kline told me in my Retroality.TV “Reimagine That!” podcast last week that Somers’ “the men” comment is inaccurate. “She wanted what the man got. She wanted what John got,” Kline said. “No matter the title ‘Three’s Company,’ let’s face it, it was really John’s show. He was the pivot, he was the focus off of which the girls bounced and reacted. There would be no show without John.” (Somers has indicated that Ritter made up to ten times her salary. In fact, Ritter received $50,000 per episode to DeWitt and Somers’ $30,000 in 1980-81.)

If, despite her very considerable post-Company accomplishments, Somers connects her sense of self-worth to her net worth, the fact that Ritter ended their friendship when she demanded three times his pay and 10 percent of their show’s profits may remain the toughest pill to swallow. Especially since the very person whose understanding, approval and forgiveness she seems to have wanted the most is no longer here to give it to her.

This isn’t the first time Somers has staked a claim for helping women break through Hollywood’s glass ceiling. "I thought [after being fired], 'Oh, I can't win. They want to make an example of me so no other women get uppity,'” she told the Los Angeles Times in a 2007 story titled “The Unsinkable Suzanne Somers.” “I have to say when women get paid big salaries in television now, I take personal pride in it.”

Sadly, a significant part of Somers’ wounded pride and residual anger—stemming from broken relations with the once-close Ritter—may never find external resolution. In a recent appearance on CBS’s The Talk, she confessed that the two had only “sort of” made peace—a pretty far cry from previous pronouncements that they’d mended fences.

And here’s where Somers needs one of forgiveness queen Oprah’s “teaching moments” the most. Few could continue and deepen the recently-reunited sitcom actresses’ dialogue in a public forum like Winfrey, whose struggling OWN cable network found some of its highest ratings and publicity in its “docu-reality” reconciliation/celebrity-Aha! series The O’Neals and Finding Sarah. Perhaps Oprah’s Next Chapter: Suzanne and Joyce is calling out to you, Lady O.

The former daytime doyenne seems primed to offer the sometimes-polarizing Somers a public platform anyway. Winfrey took heat in a Newsweek cover story for giving voice to controversial medicine—including, notably, Somers pushing bioidentical hormones—in 2009. "Many people write Suzanne off as a quackadoo," Winfrey said on her former talk show. "But she just might be a pioneer."

“On the first episode of Breaking Through,” Somers, who lost part of her breast to a lumpectomy in 2000, tells her Facebook followers, “I allowed you to actually see me naked for the purpose of advancing science with my stem cell breast reconstruction [an experimental surgery that Somers discusses in this week’s People magazine]. It wasn't easy. On this episode with Joyce I felt more naked than I've ever allowed myself to be seen. For those of you who ‘get’ what I was and am trying to do, I thank you. For those of you who don't understand, know that my heart is in the right place.” 

Whether Somers was a pioneer for TV actresses seeking equality in 1980, she continues to beat that drum while pushing medical breakthroughs and cancer and “anti-aging” treatments that some call unproven and potentially dangerous. But her biggest challenge my be as simple—and as complicated—as trying to heal from a three-decade rift with one “very different” person she’s getting to know again, and one she’ll never see again, at least in the flesh.

“We needed to do this,” she told DeWitt, referencing Somers’ lack of on-camera resolution with Ritter, who nixed a TV reunion with his blonde co-star on her 1994 syndicated talk show, the aptly named The Suzanne Somers Show.

Come and knock on her door, Oprah. She’ll be waiting for you.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Retroality's "Reimagine That!" podcast, episode 5! ............................................................ Chris Mann's special guest, "Three's Company" star Richard "Larry" Kline, on John Ritter, James Franco ... and his & Chris's exclusive takes on this week's historic Joyce DeWitt/Suzanne Somers reunion

Episode 5: "The Impossible Dream"

On the eve of pop culture's historic Joyce DeWitt-Suzanne Somers peace summit, er, YouTube reunion following their legendary 31-year estrangement, "Three's Company" co-star Richard Kline -- TV's lovably libidinous Larry Dallas -- breaks his silence about their reconciliation and offers his insights into Suzanne's contentiou$ 1981 exit from their hit 1977-84 sitcom. The accomplished stage and screen actor/director/acting coach also reveals how he's coped with the loss of his dear friend,"Company" star John Ritter, who tragically passed away in 2003. As the breakthrough sitcom reaches its 35th anniversary this spring, Kline reveals his previous plans for a stage version of the wacky roommate farce and describes his experience as James Franco's special guest last year during the Oscar-nominated actor's bizzare Sundance presentation "Three's Company: The Drama." Finally, find out the hysterical comment Richard made to story quoting Suzanne as saying that "everybody's gone from that show."

Also, host and "Three's Company" tell-all author Chris Mann offers an exclusive, in-depth historical analysis of Suzanne and Joyce's separation -- including Joyce's repeated efforts to reconcile in the last 15 years -- as well as failed attempts at/missed opportunities for "Three's Company" reunions from the mid-'90s onward. You won't get this detailed backstory anywhere else, folks!

Finally, our resident dream weaver Yvonne Ryba shares fascinating insights about inspirational dreams.

Host: Chris Mann

Announcer/"Kumbaya" singer: Linda Kay

Created by: Chris Mann

Producers: Linda Kay, Chris Mann

Copyright 2012 by Chris Mann/Retroality.TV (http://Retroality.TV)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Retroality.TV is Sitcoms Online's Click of the Week! (Chris Mann and Mannix ... together at last!!!)

A shout out to my friend Pavan, news & reviews director at SitcomsOnline, and his Digital Digest writer Skees, who kindly made my site Retroality.TV with Chris Mann their "Click of the Week"

Pavan's worked so hard to make Sitcoms Online and its news blog a big success, and I'm honored to have his support, particularly in a Kardashian-glutted, Bieber-ized, celebrity sound-bite-obsessed online media community that is not always supportive of growing enterprises trying to do something fun and different, let alone in-depth and informative. 

He broke the story about Suzanne Somers and Joyce's DeWitt's upcoming YouTube reunion days before other outlets rehashed Access Hollywood's PR-spun account. So please go to Sitcoms Online's site, subscribe to Pavan's blog, "like" Sitcoms Online's FB page, follow their/Pavan's tweets and otherwise support their endeavors! Thank you, Pavan!

Monday, January 9, 2012

"Shameless" plug

Check out my new delight! magazine TV Find piece on Showtime's Shameless. The Brady Bunch and Eight is Enough it ain't ... but I like it nonetheless ; ).

Monday, January 2, 2012