Bruce Fretts
June 09, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Behind the scenes of three classic shows

Writing books about Baywatch, Charlie’s Angels, and I Dream of Jeannie is like writing articles for Playboy: No matter how good the prose is, most people will just look at the pictures. Regardless, three new companions to these T&A-enriched TV series actually contain voluminous data: cast and creator bios, episode guides, and behind-the-scenes poop. For fans of the shows (or celeb gossip in general), these tomes offer mother lodes of tasty info-nuggets. As a public service, EW has helpfully fished out the dishiest tidbits.

Baywatch: Rescued from Prime Time
Author Qualifications: Gregory J. Bonann (who cowrote the book with Brad Alan Lewis), a longtime L.A. lifeguard, cocreated the beach-rescue drama.
Who Comes Off Best?: David Hasselhoff, star-executive producer, ”a big, strong, fit man [who] could be a true lifeguard.”
Who Comes Off Worst?: Traci Bingham, 1997-98 costar. ”Her main problem, to put it bluntly, was that she simply could not act…. She was so bad, it was embarrassing.”
Juiciest Morsel: Pamela Anderson arrived for her audition in a bathing suit and informed producers, ”If possible, I’d work in the nude.”
Frankest Remark: Bonann disses Lee’s 1996 flickBarb Wire: ”I saw it. It was in focus.”
Wannabes: Among those who failed auditions: Dean Cain, Tom Wopat, Lorenzo Lamas, Paula Abdul (”way too short”), and Sandra Bullock (”not the look we wanted”).
TMI (Too Much Information): The authors numbingly detail the show’s syndication deal, mistakenly assuming readers are interested in budget figures.
Episode Guide Ratio: Squeezing 199 hours into six pages allows room for only skimpy observations like ”best acting Hassel ever did” and ”Environmental theme — low ratings.”
Literary Merit: If you can wade through the dry financial data, there’s plenty of good dirt (e.g., the authors say costar Erika Eleniak’s second set of breast implants were ”practically circus big…so big she couldn’t run”).
Grade: B-

The Charlie’s Angels Casebook
Author Qualifications: David Hofstede penned a book about The Dukes of Hazzard; Jack Condon is ”the foremost collector of Charlie’s Angels memorabilia in the world.”
Who Comes Off Best?: Jaclyn Smith, who stayed with ABC’s female-detectives drama for its entire 1976-81 run.
Who Comes Off Worst?: Kate Jackson, who often wouldn’t speak to Cheryl Ladd, complained when creator Aaron Spelling wouldn’t let her do Kramer vs. Kramer (the role won Meryl Streep an Oscar), and — worst of all — never wore a swimsuit on the show.
Juiciest Morsel: Oscar-winner Gig Young was hired to voice unseen boss Charlie but was too drunk to read the lines, so John Forsythe subbed.
Frankest Remark: Ladd on Angels‘ appeal: ”The little girls wanted to be us, the young women wanted to wear our clothes, and the guys wanted to do us.”
Wannabes: Michelle Pfeiffer, Kim Basinger, Meredith Baxter-Birney, Dukes of Hazzard‘s Catherine Bach (”too exotic”), and Hee Haw honey Kathie Lee Johnson (the future Mrs. Frank Gifford ”wasn’t Angel material”). TMI: A 12-page list of Angels merchandise, including designer jeans, pinball machines, and paint-by-numbers sets.
Episode Guide Ratio: Stretching 109 hours over 182 pages means maximum padding (”The attempted murder of Jill with a tennis ball machine is undeniably unique…”).
Literary Merit: Despite occasional exaggerations (Farrah Fawcett was ”a sex symbol comparable only to Marilyn Monroe in global impact”), it’s still a useful primer for the upcoming Drew Barrymore-Cameron Diaz-Lucy Liu movie.
Grade: B

Dreaming of Jeannie: TV’s Prime Time in a Bottle
Author Qualifications: Steve Cox wrote The Hooterville Handbook (a guide to Green Acres, not Baywatch); photo archivist Howard Frank’s cousin was on the set of the 1965-70 NBC sitcom about an astronaut (Larry Hagman) and his midriff-baring genie (Barbara Eden).
Who Comes Off Best?: Hayden Rorke (NASA shrink Dr. Bellows), described as ”beyond a gentleman” by costar Bill Daily.
Who Comes Off Worst?: Hagman, who allegedly tore up scripts, experimented with LSD, and urinated all over the set (to express his displeasure with the show)
Juiciest Morsel: Did you miss the part about Hagman peeing on the set?
Frankest Remark: The authors admit in the introduction, ”We’ve asked ourselves more than once why anyone would write a book about I Dream of Jeannie. The show isn’t that funny.”
Wannabes: Also reading for Hagman’s role were Kolchak: The Night Stalker‘s Darren McGavin (who turned it down) and Robert Conrad.
TMI: Daily (Maj. Roger Healey) on Farrah Fawcett’s guest-star gig as his girlfriend: ”I get a hard-on just thinking about it.” Episode Guide Ratio: Covering 139 half hours in 56 pages seems about right; too bad it’s mostly made up of bland plot summaries (”Trouble starts when Jeannie drives off in Tony’s car…”).
Literary Merit: Incessant digressions about other TV shows (F Troop, Star Trek, Bewitched) haunt Dreaming like recurring nightmares.
Grade: C+

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