”I made up my mind a long time ago not to do your standard movie-of-the week,” says Kirstie Alley. ”You know, teenage daughter of a Mafia guy gets raped, then discovers she’s really a princess and needs a blood transfusion.”
Actually, we think that sounds kind of interesting, but the actress remains true to her commitment in the lighthearted drama Radiant City (airing March 31 on ABC). Alley, 41, stars as a ’50s housewife whose frustration with life in a Brooklyn housing project drives her to work furtively outside the home and flirt innocently with a handsome neighbor — exactly the sort of well-meaning TV project from which she has fashioned a career since Cheers’ last call in 1993. Such work has handsomely supplemented a tidy fortune (from TV residuals and Look Who’s Talking movies) and also earned her another Emmy; in 1994 she played the mother of an autistic boy in the CBS movie David’s Mother. But frankly, we preferred Alley when she was just a shade more multidimensional. As Cheers’ bar manager Rebecca Howe, she was both vicious and vulnerable, beautiful and wacky, neurotic and sassy — all six Friends rolled into one. That kind of complex bitchcraft is sorely missing from current prime-time lineups.
”I had a lot of series offers, but I had already done the best,” explains Alley. ”TV movies like Radiant City have allowed me the chance to spend more time with my family [she and husband Parker Stevenson live in Encino with William True, 3, and Lillie Price, 1 1/2]. But I’m ready to go back, and as soon as I find the right project I’ll do it. It will definitely be a sitcom.”
In the meantime, look for her next two incarnations: as a blond in the upcoming ABC drama An Urban Legend; and as first-time screenwriter for the feature film Hold On Tight, a romance in which she will also star. Another Alley script, Trixie’s Truck Stop, is currently in preproduction. ”It’s science fiction, a little futuristic,” says Alley of the project. ”It came to me once in my sleep. It was a good concept.” So is a regular Thursday-night time slot. Maybe she should sleep on that.