Over the course of her 35-year-plus entertainment career, actress Kirstie Alley has appeared in a wide array of television programs and films, including “Cheers,” “Veronica’s Closet,” two seasons of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” and the short-lived “Kirstie,” among others. She’s also worn the spokeswoman hat for a variety of causes and products. Examiner caught up with Alley on Jan. 13 to chat about her recent 50-pound weight loss, and the conversation turned to a number of other topics, including her true feelings about working with “DWTS” pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy, the identity of the celeb with whom she’d love to share a lip-lock, and how she hopes to be remembered.
Sherry Wight: You recently reunited with George Wendt and John Ratzenberger to film a commercial. What prompted that mini “Cheers” reunion?
Kirstie Alley: The ad agency came up with that. They said ‘hey, let’s do this mini “Cheers” reunion thing.’ They had to do some talking with me [to get me to agree to do it] because… George and John sitting at the end of that bar like they do as Cliff and Norm are just so iconic, and I had concerns that it wouldn’t look real; that the set wouldn’t look real enough, and I wanted to make sure that they’d have great lines and blah blah blah because, you know, we’re doing a Jenny Craig commercial and they need to have funny jokes, too….
But that set was an exact replica [of the original]. It was a beautiful day, they were funny as usual… we just fell right back into that rhythm of doing “Cheers” and all that that means to us, which is having a great time on set and acting like idiots, basically.
SW: I saw the commercial last night. It was adorable and the set was amazing.
KA: Thank you.
SW: Good work!
KA: Yeah, good work there, art director!
SW: Now, your weight has really been on a roller coaster for the past several years. Why do you think Jenny Craig is working so well for you?
KA: Because I need some discipline in my life and I need direction…. In the sphere of weight loss and weight maintenance, I just got out of control and felt like I really needed help to guide me along. That’s why Jenny Craig is great for me. I do it exactly like the woman on the street would do it: everyone walks in the door and they get their own personal consultant and that person helps guide you through the weight loss and through the maintenance. Whether you’ve lost two pounds that week or you screwed that week up and gained a quarter of a pound, they’ll get you back, and I think that’s really necessary.
SW: Fifty pounds is definitely nothing to sneeze at.
KA: No, it isn’t. And I sit back and go ’50 pounds? How did I ever even gain 50 pounds?’ [Laughs]
SW: Let me go back to “Cheers” for a second. I want you to play favorites for me. We were just talking about Cliff and Norm. Who from that cast do you really miss working with?
KA: I miss the cast as a whole because… it’s very rare that you have a group that actually adores each other. I adore every person in that cast and on that set. That was like a golden moment that lasted six years for me, and 11 years for them.
SW: I’ve got to switch it up a bit and go to an entirely different part of your TV career. I love “Dancing with the Stars” so I saw a lot of you during your two seasons, since you did so well. Finishing second is amazing, so congratulations.
KA: [Laughs] Thanks.
SW: What was your biggest show highlight?
KA: I think my biggest highlight was right before they announced that I didn’t win but got second place and thought I was going to win [laughs].
SW: Oh, that’s terrible!
KA: I know. But I had that moment in my head like ‘[gasps] I’m the winner! I’m the winner!’ and then… so that was the highlight, actually.
SW: Okay, well, that’s something! It’s definitely something to remember, I guess.
SW: At the time you were on the show, did you feel like Maks was a good personality match for you?
KA: Oh yeah, I thought he was great, because he was feisty, and you know, he’s actually very easy to get along with and lovable if you can slightly tame him. And by taming him, I mean… well, how he was trained to dance is probably not the ideal…. It’s very [makes a tomahawk motion with her arm and babbles in a low voice], so if he gets like that, and you just say something to him like ‘oh, you’re so handsome’ or ‘oh, I love you’ or ‘oh, you have pretty eyes,’ he just mellows right out. So he was a good match for me. He was perfect.
SW: So you learned to push the reset button?
KA: I just sort of didn’t pay too much attention if he would get mean. I call it mean, but it’s just the way he was trained. It’s like if you were dealing with someone in the Bolshoi Ballet. [Laughs] I’m sure they were yelled at.
SW: Oh absolutely. That’s a very serious world. Now aside from working with Jenny Craig, what else do you have on your plate right now?
KA: I have a show that I’ve been working on since 2006 that I’ve been developing to get on the air. It’s wanted; we have the right network, [we’re just] looking for a showrunner right now who’s perfect for that. I’ve written two scripts for films; one has me, one doesn’t. I want those filmed this year. I just did a role in “Flaked,” Will Arnett’s new series for Netflix. That was fun. I get to play a very inappropriate mother, you know, those mothers that embarrass you. Yeah. Not his mother, his friend’s mother, ’cause Will’s way too old for me to play his mother. [Pause] Probably not. I don’t think he is too old for me to play his mother. I don’t think there’s anyone who’s still living that’s too old for me to play their mother. But anyway, you get the drift [laughs].
SW: I do. You have enjoyed a long career, definitely. You’ve done a whole bunch of different things, shows, movies, sponsorships. Twenty, thirty, forty years from now, what do you hope to be remembered as?
KA: You don’t get to answer this question very often, but I’ve had a wonderful life. I mean, honestly, every day that I wake up and I’m on a set somewhere getting to act or getting to do something, I honestly feel like the luckiest girl in the world. It always feels a little bit like a gimmick, like ‘how did this happen? Is this really real?’ In fact, sometimes I think I’m dead and I’m in Heaven, so if I am, let me just stay here, right?
SW: It sounds awesome. Just a couple of quick final questions and we’ll be all done here.
SW: You just said that you had a spot on “Flaked.” Is there another show you’d like to guest on?
KA: Yes. I want to be on “Criminal Minds.” They [once] offered me a part… but I was filming something else at the time so I couldn’t do it. But I want to play a serial killer on “Criminal Minds” and I want to play something on “Modern Family” and I love the show “Fresh off the Boat.” I mean, there’s just shows I love. So I want to do something good and stupid on all of those if they’re comedies. I guess if they’re dramas I can’t be stupid, but whatever.
SW: Well, you could.
KA: Eh, maybe [laughs].
SW: Okay. Favorite place to vacation?
KA: Positano, Italy.
SW: Last one. Actor –dead or alive– who you’d most like to work with?
KA: The one I’d like to make out with the most is James Dean. I don’t know about ‘work’ with him; I just want to make out with him.