Hey there, fellow Designing Women fans!
It's another jam-packed issue of "Belled" for everyone! But before we begin, we'd like to address some requests we've been getting for more information on some of the later cast members. The DWFC and "Belled" is here to share information on the entire cast, and we are in touch with representatives for all of the cast members, but not all of them are currently involved in projects. We will, however, keep you abreast of any new information and we encourage everyone to let us know when they have something to share. Plus, we will definitely be continuing to include nostalgia and memories from the show itself!!
In this issue, Karen Sosa gives us an exclusive report on Jean Smart's performance in The Man Who Came to Dinner as well as her personal encounter afterwards. Also, because you demanded it, we've got details on Delta's new series, plus a special comic satire on DW from the MAD magazine archives.
Please continue to give us feedback and any tidbits you hear on the cast. Email us at Belled@topthat.net.
"Dinner" With Jean Smart
A DWFC Exclusive Report by Karen M. Sosa
Walking down 42nd street one day, a friend of mine and I stopped in front of a picture of Nathan Lane. We looked up and discovered that he was appearing in a play called The Man Who Came To Dinner. Next to his big picture was an equally lovely picture of Jean Smart. At first, neither my friend nor I could place the name. "It’s Jean Smart!" "Jean Smart! Hmm… Jean Smart… huh…" "Yeah, um… you know… Jean…" Then, simultaneously, it snapped. "DESIGNING WOMEN!" we both screamed, attracting the attention of a few passersby. We eagerly ran into the theater and tried to find out what we could about getting backstage to meet the actors. Unfortunately, we were turned away, and we left.
But I refused to leave it. The next week, I took another friend, and we purchased our tickets for that evening's performance of The Man Who Came To Dinner. At 8:00pm, July 22nd, the curtain rose on what would be the most thoroughly enjoyable 2 hours and 45 minutes of my summer in New York.
Jean’s character was mentioned repeatedly throughout the show, and the anticipation was built up; after all, she didn’t even show up until the second act! Every time the butler went to answer the off-stage door, I tensed up, hoping that it would be Ms. Smart. And finally, it was.
Jean Smart may be known by most for playing naïve country bumpkin Charlene Frazier, but evidently the casting director of this show saw much more potential for Ms. Smart. Her portrayal of egocentric actress Lorraine Sheldon is right on the money; a brilliant cross between the class of Katherine Hepburn and the flamboyance and humor of Barbra Streisand’s Dolly Levi (Hello, Dolly).
In the story, Sheridan Whiteside (Nathan Lane) is desperate to keep his secretary, Maggie Cutler, from marrying local journalist Bert Jefferson and leaving his employment. Enter Lorraine Sheldon, seductress extraordinaire. Sheridan’s plan is that Lorraine will distract Bert’s attentions and Maggie will forget about marriage. Lorraine happily plays along, always eager to use her womanly wiles. Maggie discovers the plan and retaliates against Lorraine by enlisting actor Beverly Carlton, a dear friend of Maggie’s, to play a trick. He calls Lorraine, imitating a British gentlemen in which she is interested, and asks her to marry him. Through a series of trials and tribulations, all is revealed, and Lorraine is (jokingly) packed away in an Egyptian sarcophagus until the curtain call.
Jean Smart entertained the entire audience with her performance. Several particular favorites were her character’s exaggerated, strained attempts to cry on cue (enormously funny, even the third time around), and her hysterical monologue after discovering that her marriage proposal was a joke. She has already sent out telegrams announcing the engagement, and she frantically tries to explain to her maid by phone what has happened. She collapses to the floor in desperation, making perhaps the funniest moment of the entire play. At the moment when she yells, "Don’t argue with me, you French bitch!!", the entire audience laughed uproariously and applauded her amazing talent.
After clapping and cheering myself hoarse during the curtain call, my friend and I spoke with the ushers about staying to meet the actors and get autographs and pictures. We waited in the theatre about half an hour, and then Nathan Lane emerged from the backstage door. He signed my playbill and told me to "take care", but he was very curt, almost rude (according to Ms. Smart, he was upset about something that had happened during the show). Hoping Jean would be nicer, we waited for about an additional half hour to meet her. She finally came, and the wait was well worth it. She couldn’t have been a nicer, more gracious person. She seemed kind of soft-spoken, maybe a little tired. An employee of the theatre, who had waited to meet her, had a press kit from the show with a beautiful picture of Ms. Smart. Evidently, Jean had never received one and asked if the girl could go get one for her so she could send the picture to her mother. She happily signed my playbill, while I rattled away about her character in the play being so different from Charlene, which is what we’re all used to. She replied that "that was a long time ago." The other girl asked her what it was like growing up with the last name "Smart", and she said that "When the sitcom Get Smart came out, that was the big joke in class." I asked for a picture, and she happily agreed. She is a very tall woman, about 5'8" or 5'9". We all left the theatre together, and I turned and said "Have a good evening Ms. Smart!" She replied, "Thank you, you too!" and we left.
Jean Smart is a genuinely beautiful person, both outside and in. Her talent is phenomenal, and her kindness is so refreshing. Meeting her was such a wonderful experience, and I will always be grateful for her generosity. I strongly recommend The Man Who Came To Dinner, now showing at The American Airlines Roundabout Theatre.
"Re Designing Women"
A Classic MAD Magazine TV Satire of 'Designing Women'
Source: MAD #279 - June, 1988
Writer: Dick Debartolo
Artist: Angelo Torres
"There's a new sitcom about four typical working ladies. One is a bubble-brain beauty pageant champ. Another is a soft touch and is so easily duped, it seems she also has a soft brain. A third falls in and out of love at the drop of a bathrobe and the fourth has a tongue that makes Howard Stern sound like a Boy Scout. That's how Hollywood sees four TYPICAL ladies!! But we wish Hollywood would take a good look at some REAL typical female types and just stop....Re Designing Women."
"Belled" has uncovered this classic MAD Designing Women spoof and is giving a sneak peak to fan club members before it hits the DWT website. Because the pages are all drawings, all five pages had to be scanned rather large in order to be viewed. As a result, the actual pages are larger than most monitors and will have to be scrolled, but the good news is that the files are reasonably sized and should load relatively quickly on most computers. Still, keep in mind that the files are still large if your computer is slow. So click on the pages and enjoy!
Delta Takes on David Alan Grier in NBC's 'DAG'
David Alan Grier (In Living Color) and Delta Burke star opposite each other in the new NBC sitcom DAG -- a playful White House comedy about a demoted Secret Service agent, Jerome Daggett, who must guard the demanding First Lady.
Delta Burke returns to series television as Judith Whitman, the smart, strong-willed president's wife. It's a role that the two-time Emmy Award-nominated actress turned successful clothing designer clearly relishes.
"I was ready to do another sitcom again, but I wanted to play someone who would provide a strong role model for women," Burke says. "Judith's character is a compilation of all great First Ladies, combining strength with intelligence and humor, and that really appealed to me."
David Alan Grier stars as Secret Service Agent Jerome Daggett, who leads the White House B-team assigned to protect the First Lady.
"I'm very proud of the project. One of the many things that attracted me to it is that we have a great team and a very talented cast working on a show that is rich with story possibilities," said Grier. "In the long term, there are a million different places to go with DAG, and that is what interests me."
Grier's character, Agent Daggett is one of the top men in his field, assigned to protect the President of the United States (guest star David Rasche, Sledgehammer!), until one day when he dives away from the bullet during a failed assassination attempt on the President. While his friend, Agent Morton (Mel Jackson, NBC's Little Richard), takes over as head of the A-team, Daggett is reassigned to the less glamorous B-team, protecting the First Lady, where he struggles to bring order to the unit. Among the new challenges he must contend with are Edward Pillows (Stephen Dunham, Oh Grow Up), a tall, handsome guy who fancies himself a great agent, but who can't quite get his act together; and Susan Cole (Emmy Laybourne, Superstar), an overzealous female agent who sleeps three hours a night and spends the rest of the time in training.
In addition, Daggett has his hands full with the First Lady's secretary, Ginger Chin (Lauren Tom, Grace Under Fire), a former grifter whom the First Lady met during a charity visit to the Maryland State Women's Center; Sullivan Pope (Paul F. Tompkins, Magnolia), the power-mad Chief of Staff; and the First Lady's beautiful teenage daughter, Camilla, the world's biggest security risk.
Daggett's greatest challenge, of course, is the First Lady herself -- a larger-than-life character who is brilliant, but kooky; strong, but needy; and self-absorbed, but with an endless wealth of compassion. Her public mask hides a wounded politician's wife who is newly determined to assert herself and take a more pro-active role in the administration -- even if doing so sets up rival camps between her staff and the President's team.
As part of the final retouching of the new fall series, NBC cast Brutally Normal star Lea Moreno Young as the president's only daughter, replacing the two daughters from the pilot -- rebellious Lenore and bookish younger Camilla (JoAnna Garcia and Sarah Hagan of Freaks and Geeks -- shown here in an original cast photo). Young's new Camilla is a recent high school graduate who, while taking a year off before college, develops a crush on dim-witted secret agent Pillows. Young comes fresh off the NBC Studios pilot Just Married, which didn't get picked up for fall. NBC executives reportedly liked her so much that they made a place for her on DAG. The part of Agent Cole, originally to be played by Hedy Burress (pictured), was also recast.
DAG is produced by NBC Studios and the executive producers are Eileen Conn and Andrew Gordon (both from NBC's Just Shoot Me and Mad About You) and Jack Burditt (Just Married).
DAG is scheduled to begin airing on November 14th -- Tuesdays at 9:30pm on NBC.
Source: NBC Studios
Photos by: Chris Haston
Jean Smart Receives Her First Emmy Nomination
In other Jean Smart news, Jean has received her first ever Emmy nomination for her critically acclaimed guest appearance on Frasier last season. Smart played Lorna Lenley, Frasier's high school dream date. After he summons up the courage to ask her out, Frasier's dream turns into a nightmare when Lorna's trashy, loud side takes over -- cigarettes, boozing and all.
For more information on Jean's Emmy-nominated performance, visit Smart Stuff: Officially Jean Smart.
ABC's broadcast of the 52nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards is scheduled to air on September 10, from 8-11pm. Good luck, Jean!!
"Julia would be about 55 now. She is still living in her house in Atlanta and dating a man that used to work with Reese named Max McCrown. Julia's son Payne now lives in Atlanta and is divorced from Sylvie with a 4 1/2 year old daughter named Wendy Suzanne McIlroy. Julia was forced to shut down Sugarbakers and Associates Design Firm in 1995, but reopened it in late '96. Charlene is now back working there with Mary Jo, B. J. and Suzanne -- who has returned from another stay in Japan. Anthony no longer works with them but is Sugarbaker's attorney and an investor in the firm. Julia also is a mentor for her second cousin, sixteen year old Dixie Sugarbaker, who reminds Julia of herself at sixteen. Dixie's father is Julia's cousin Jim whose wife died when Dixie was only two and is a major investor in Julia's firm. Overall, she is still the same Julia -- constantly fighting with her sister using the same sharp tongue and attitude." (submitted by Check811)
Don't forget to Email "Belled" with reader feedback and to tell us where you think the "Designing Women" characters would be today for future issues!
(33) Which three Designing Women actresses never appeared on Broadway?
(34) Which of the original Designing Women actresses never appeared as a guest on the series Remington Steele?
(35) Which two DW actresses did a short run on the soap opera One Life to Live playing roles later made famous by other actresses?
(36) Which of Douglas Barr's (Bill Stillfield) Designing Women co-stars previously appeared with him on The Fall Guy?
* Answers will appear in the next issue.
Answers from Issue #008 (from "Monette")
(29) What celebrity did Charlene find out she may be related to?
A letter from her mother says there's a possibility they may be related to Loretta Lynn.
(30) What was the mascot for the Poplar Bluff's high school football team?
A jackass -- for the Poplar Bluff Mules.
(31) In what city do Monette's parents currently reside?
(32) What nickname does six-year old Quint Shively go by to his friends?
His friends have started calling him "The Slickster."