Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nbc's `Sisters' Thrives with Loyal Core Group

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nbc's `Sisters' Thrives with Loyal Core Group

Article excerpt

'Sisters' When: 9 tonight Where: Channel 5

SOME TV series, like "Home Improvement" and "NYPD Blue," soar in their first seasons to reap glory and treasure for all concerned. Others continue on an even course, winning enough loyal viewers to achieve network longevity.

Slower but steady has won the race for "Sisters," NBC's Saturday night drama in the midst of its sixth season. It's the saga of the Reed sisters, played by Swoosie Kurtz, Sela Ward and Patricia Kalember, who have gone through a wealth of problems, including their choice of men, mostly bad.

On a recent day, the sisters were seated around a dining room table with their mother (Elizabeth Hoffman) on stage 28A at Warner Bros.

While hashing out some familial problem in the plot, all four actresses were virtually letter-perfect in their lines. They had to be, because the wide shot and closeups were filmed with rapid precision.

"There isn't much margin for error in television, is there?" an admiring visitor suggested to Kalember after the company broke for lunch.

"No, there isn't," she replied. "I have to say the weaker the material, the better actor you have to be, frankly. Because sometimes the speed is so quick that you don't have time to refine.

"It takes a lot of effort so that people don't want to throw things at the TV set. I think you really have to know what you're doing."

It helps to be stage-trained, which is the case with most of the "Sisters" cast.

"You have to learn fast, and you have to know who your character is," Kalember said. "There is very little exploration time. In a series, if you don't know your character after episode three or four, you're not going to be around long."

Kalember studied drama at Indiana University and Temple University and began acting at the Baltimore Center Stage. New York and regional theater led to the TV series "Just in Time," "Kay O'Brien" and "thirtysomething," which provided her first bloom of fame. …

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