L.A. Times Article, by Judith Michaelson, 9/14/83


"There were moments...," Tyne Daly said of the canceled television series "Cagney and Lacey," sounding saddened and angry at the same time.

Daly, who played Detective Mary Beth Lacey, sat in her home in the canyons above Beverly Hills, reminiscing. She and her partner Sharon Gless, who played Detective Christine Cagney, has just returned from "Good Morning America" in New York and yet another interview trying to account for the demise of the show about two New York policewomen, who were partners and friends.

The cancellation has some twists. "Cagney and Lacey" has been nominated for four Emmys, including best dramatic series, best sound mixing and two best-actress entries with Daly and Gless. On Aug. 15, a rerun of the show, which had generally scored in the middle of the range on the Nielsen charts, came in first. It also has received favorable attention from the women's movement, including the cover on Ms. magazine.

"I think of moments in scripts," Daly said, warming to the subject. "For instance, there's the show where we're assigned to the dumb job of spying on everyone else in the precinct, and we feel awful. We've gotten to know more than we've wanted to know about our colleagues. And we're following LaGuardia, who's the dear older gentlemen, the expert on everything, and he turns out just to be meeting a lady for the afternoon. Mary Beth starts to cry, out of relief. Somebody's got something nice in their life. And her friend says, 'Pull yourself together.' And she says leave me alone.

"'Starsky and Hutch' don't get to cry."

There was the moment in the segment "Date Rape," in which the otherwise sensitive precinct captain casually suggested, using "Gone With The Wind's" Rhett Butler as an example, that women often say no, when they mean yes. "With respect sir," Lacey replied, "if you don't know the difference between rape and romance, you've got a serious problem."

And there was the moment when Lacey in "Burn Out" had a minor breakdown, went AWOL and off to the ocean to think, Lacey--wife, mother, detective--has few moments for herself. It is the program for which Daly received the Emmy nomination. "I like Mary Beth because she's tired. Nobody's tired on TV."

At first glance, actress Daly, educated at fancy private schools, including one in Sweden while her father, actor James Daly, was on the set of TV's "Foreign Intrigue," bears little resemblance to Det. Lacey. The actress has red hair, a glowing tan and clearly a far better economic life style than her TV counterpart. On TV, Lacey seemed to have darker hair and her complexion looked pale. Even the accents are different, Daly has unidentifiable classic American speech, while Lacey sounded like the sidewalks of New York. Not a Brooklyn intonation or that of the Bronx, but definitively Queens. "It's actually Queens via Boston, if you have a careful ear. There's the flat 'a.'"

Still, Daly identified with Lacey. "Although she's certainly not me--I would never be a cop--and raising boy children is different, she was doing what I think a lot of women in this country have been doing for a couple of decades, which is being a juggler. She's trying to do the work and the relationships and the kids and the house all at once and keep all of that afloat. And I liked her because she is opinionated."

Tyne Daly, married to actor-director Georg Sanford Brown, who is black, certainly expresses her opinions. They have been married 17 years and have two daughters, 15 and 12. Asked whether having an interracial marriage has caused problems, she answered sharply: "I'm not involved in an inter- racial marriage. He's black, but he's a human being. We're in one race, the human race." Like Lacey she considers marriage "a partnership" demanding skill and patience.

As for the loss of "Cagney and Lacey:"

I certainly will miss it on TV next year because you won't find any women at the helm of dramatic television. Outside of soaps and sitcoms where you have the classic woman victim and the classic woman funny girl...(She neglected the "Falcon Crest" -type female lead of victimizer) the woman as clown and child, which is the same position that black people hold on television or anybody but the white boys. Two new black people on TV this year, one is a clown and one is a genie.

"We know that more black people (proportionately) watch television than anyone else, and yet they are not there. We know that women represent more than half of the population of this country and yet they are there only in the position of dolly- babies and clowns.

"So we made a tiny little difference. What we did was a very classic formula cop show about grownup ladies. No 'Starsky and Hutch,' no breakthrough stuff like 'Hill Street Blues' particularly. It was just two ladies in the john talking it over instead of two guys."

And that in itself presented problems. In its two seasons, "Cagney and Lacey" had been beset by critiques from within CBS (and outside). One CBS official, who wanted anonymity, said at the time that the show was "too harshly women's lib" and that the women were perceived "as dykes." This attitude occurred despite the fact that Lacey is apparently happily married to a construction worker and has two healthy young sons. If the latter criticism seemed to decline with the emergence of Gless' blond and glamorous Christine in sexy sweaters--she was the second actress in the series and the third to play the role if one includes the original made-for-television movie-- the issue of a woman doing so-called man's work, at least according to Daly, never seemed to go away.

'It threatened everybody, and they all got terribly scared," Daly said.

"They were nervous about whether or not these ladies, who liked and loved each other, were in fact homosexual, which is an amazing conclusion to come to if you are just simply dealing with a colleague at work you worked well with."

There were, as Daly told it, apparent contradictions. The network powers were also nervous about the possibility that Christine "would be considered a sleepabout" if she "had a boyfriend every couple of weeks...The things they were nervous about were amazing and appalling to anybody who...has been around for the last 30 years. First they didn't want me to go to bed with my husband, and then when I begged and pleaded for us to have a little fun in the hay, they didn't want me to ever turn him down. When I got to the point where, the woman was so tired, she turned around and said 'No.' all of it seemed so threatening."

According to executive producer Barney Rosenzweig, the real issue was that once the football season was over "Cagney and Lacey" was forced to go up against movies and/or miniseries on ABC and NBC that were "specifically designed to appeal to a female audience...ABC's offerings was "The Thorn Birds."

"Cagney and Lacey" creators and chief writers were two women as well: Barbara Avedon and Barbara Corday. Corday is married to Rosenzweig.

A graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York where she met her husband, Daly has had a broad range of professional experience. She's done numerous TV episodes, including "Quincy," "Lou Grant," and "Magnum, P.I." She won her first Emmy nomination in a supporting role in the TV movie "Intimate Strangers." Her first screen role was opposite Clint Eastwood in "The Enforcer." She has since appeared in "John and Mary," "Telefon" and "Zoot Suit," for which she received good notices.

Onstage she's appeared at the Mark Taper Forum in such productions as "Ashes," "Black Angel," and "Three Sisters." Most recently, she played in "Skirmishes" at the Matrix in Hollywood.

"I loved Mary Beth from the beginning. A lot of actresses were hot to play Christine. She's great-looking and she's a free spirit and she owns the City of New York and she's tough and all that. But I was attracted to Mary Beth. Because she had troubles."

Next for Tyne Daly is a "nice-spirited" movie about Hollywood scheduled to begin shooting early next year with Charles Grodin.

Rosenzweig has suggested the possibility of a "Cagney and Lacey" movie.

"The movies I've been offered in the last couple of years," Daly said, "have all been about people eating dead human flesh, or the woman is raped by the devil or some 'horrendum' I simply cannot get involved in. So you say, 'No, thank you' and go an play theater for no dollars a night on Melrose instead."

At the moment, she's filming a segment for the new prime-time program, "Mississippi," which is about a riverboat country lawyer, Daly plays "a superior Southern liar." Her husband is directing the series.

In the meantime, she concentrating on an Artists and Athletes Against Apartheid benefit Oct. 10 at the Wilshire-Ebell Theater against cultural participation of any sort in South Africa. The purpose of the event, featuring Harry Belafonte and Arthur Ashe, is to provide information to the arts and sports communities about South Africa's apartheid policies and the UN's 1968 boycott. The sponsors would like to make sure that such entertainers as Frank Sinatra and Linda Ronstadt do not make repeat visits there. Daly pointed out that black artists who go there have "honorary white" stamped on their passports.

The Emmys will be awarded Sept. 25. "The fantasy is Sharon and I come in, in a dead heat. We get to rush up on the stage together and get to hold up two statuettes. That would be like the movies. The 'Rocky' ending. We do feel if she wins, I win, if I win she wins."

All of which, she said, proves the point of "Cagney and Lacey," "Women are not by nature in competition. They are not innately bitchy and trying to get each other's husbands and family jewels as we get on television every night. They are in fact wonderful cooperators with each other and capable of kinds of friendship that are as deep and mutually satisfying as all of those buddies."

***This article was sent to me by Scott. Thanks, Scott!

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