, was one of the stars of the CBS nighttime soap Knots Landing
! and enthusiastically joined the rest of the cast for the reunion, Knots Landing: Back in the Cul-de-Sac
" She recently produced, directed, wrote and starred in the TV movie Color Me Perfect
, which debuted on the Lifetime Channel and won the prestigious Christopher Award.
This interview was culled from a Prodigy/Spotlight chat.
Have you been keeping in touch with the rest of the cast from KL?
Yes, I have kept in touch with all of my friends from Knotts Landing, although I don't see them all the time... when we do see each other it is as if we've never parted. Lots of hugs and kisses.
Where you ever surprised at the consistent popularity of Knots Landing? It just seemed to keep going and going... : )
No. One of the reasons I was never surprised is that I also became a Knots Landing fan and I understood WHY WE sat at home and watched those people living on that cul-de-sac.
what is your favorite sport?
I can't talk about it online.
What actresses or actors have inspired you to do what you do?
In music when I was a little girl, my father used to take me to see Lena Horne. Judy Garland - well is there anyone like her? I guess you could answer, "Streisand." The actors..... I had the great fortune to work with Anthony Hopkins in 1974 in a three hour television drama called, "Dark Victory" with Elizabeth Montgomery. I fell in love with him then. I think he is a genius and I have remained friends with him so I will definitely have him at the top of my list. Meryl Streep, for so many reasons and I think everybody will know them.
what do you do to keep in shape? (you still look fantastic, by the way...)
Oh! Thank YOU!!! I try hard and I'm glad you see the end results. (Big laugh) I spend at least five days a week on my treadmill, which I LOVE. It invigorates me. I also lift weights A LITTLE (G) and I love to dance. I love to eat so I have to work off a LOT of calories.
Any chance of seeeing you on Broadway anytime soon? You've got a lovely voice... : )
I would love to go back to Broadway again. Hopefully one day I'll find the right show and the right time. Knotts prevented me for many years, from going back to Broadway. But I can't really complain. Marvin Hamlish called me every season for years and would say, "WHEN IS THIS SHOW GOING TO END?" (Laugh)
so are you married?
I am married and he is one of my favorite sports!
I thought you were amazing in the Dottie West Story... Did you do all your own singing? Do you have a strong singing background or did you need to brush up for the movie?
I started my career as a singer. I recorded with Columbia Records for many years. However, I had to do a lot of research and studying to capture the spirit and sound of Dottie West. I sang all of her hit records in the movie and recording it LIVE in Nashville was a thrill.
What is your fondest memory from Knots Landing?
Oh Goodness.... there are so many memories. It is difficult for me to choose one. What I'll always remember fondly, are the faces of the cast and crew and how we felt creatively as a family. One memory that I can share is the famous "Pollyanna Speech" that Karen emotionally expressed to Gary in her kitchen.... about the mistrust and violence in America. How it was not even safe to keep Meg on the front lawn as she played with her friends.
How old were you when you decided to start acting?
I was three years old when I started to sing (laugh). I was 16 years old when I started to sing on the weekends with a band. My father was a Hollywood makeup artist for Clint Eastwood in Rawhide and Richard Chamberlain in Dr. Kildare. One of my first performances at age 17 was on Dr. Kildare after Richard Chamberlain met me.
do you have any kids?
Yes! I have a son, David Farentino. He is an aspiring actor and writer and I love him SO MUCH that he'd be embarrassed if he was watching this. He has a great heart and I'm very proud of him. He's also very cute....
Is Kevin Dobson as sexy in real life as he is on screen?
It is difficult for me to answer that question as my husband is staring at me at this moment. .... but I will try. The answer is "Yes," however, when we do love scenes, he is wearing socks under the covers. My husband just asked me, "IS THAT ALL?" Huge laughter.
Are you as strong minded in real life as the character you play on Knots Landing?
You bet your sweet A. But I AM sweet. (giggle)
My husband says you play a "psycho" really well. He loves your movies and shows where you are a bit nutty. What types of parts do you like best
I have tried very hard to choose roles very carefully, taormina. My movies are always just a little bit different than the average television movie one would see. Colorful characters intrigue me, so I've played anything from a mentally challenged woman who becomes a genius,(Color Me Perfect) to Dottie West. And I thank you for noticing. :)
Do you mind telling how tall you are?
I'm 5'8 1/2", absolutely gorgeous and I have great legs. (G)
how many shows have you been on?
Well, ... I was on all 344 episodes. I am happy to say that I hold the record for playing a lead actress on a Prime Time television drama in the history of American television. YAY! And I'm not tired yet! series!
What have you been doing since you left the show?
Since I left Knots Landing, I produced a television movie that I am very proud of, "Big Dreams & Broken Hearts, the Dottie West Story." The movie tells the incredible dramatic story of this beloved country singer and people keep asking me if there's a video cassette. It was received as one of the most acclaimed movies on television in the last five years, highly rated and I cannot tell you how much fun I had wearing all those different wigs with spandex up to HERE and spiked heels up to THERE, singing my little heart. Many country friends and stars joined us who played themselves, including Kenny Rogers. If you are interested in a video cassette, I'm distributing it privately because of all the requests. To order them, you can call 1-800-722-1155. ( or you can write to Hey Jack Publishing, 10850 Wilshire Blvd. 6th Floor. Los Angeles, California. 90024. $24.95 plus shipping and handling.)
Another movie that I'm very proud of which just received the Gracie Award from American Women in Radio and Television for Color Me Perfect, for life time television. I was the first woman in television history (oh gosh gosh- blush) to write, produce, direct and star in an original two hour movie. :)
What was your favorite episode?
Oh, ... there are many. I'll name some: The episode in which Sid died. People still talk about it. When it was on TNT Television, I was actually late for work because I couldn't turn it off. My wedding to Mack is another. Any scene where I'm pouring coffee in my kitchen, the episode in which I returned Val's twins to her, an episode where I went camping/fishing with Mack, and all of the episodes where Karen was addicted to prescription drugs and the IMPACT that it had at that time.
What was it like to do the infamous scene when you visit Mac's office in the teddy?
Ohhhh! Well, I was embarrassed to tell you the truth. I was afraid to walk out in the Teddy with the crue watching me. They were like my brothers and we had such a sense of family that I felt as if my father were watching. Kevin liked it, however. :)
what kind of music do you listen to Michele ?
All kinds of music. I LOVE - name it, name it... Coming from Broadway, I love show tunes. I love jazz, classical music, I got into country because of Dottie West. I love Latin music. I play it and people look at me like I'm crazy. If it is in Spanish, all the better. There is no music I don't like. You name it, I do it.
What was it like being a judge on The Gong Show?
I had a personal relationship with Chuck Barris, but not the kind you are thinking of. :) And I did some Gong shows as a favor for him. It was absolutely outrageous, a lot of laughs, however... sometimes I would actually feel sorry for people who didn't see the sense of humor in it.