Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rhea Perlman Goes to College in `Pearl'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rhea Perlman Goes to College in `Pearl'

Article excerpt

`Pearl'

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Channel 4 THE rehearsal is at the historic Sunset Boulevard studio, where Al Jolson began the movies' revolution from silents to sound by muttering, "Ma, you ain't heard nothin' yet" in "The Jazz Singer." Flash forward 70 years. The new CBS sitcom "Pearl" is having its "network runthrough" on Stage 9 of what is now the KTLA television lot. In other words, the cast will enact the show on the sets without cameras but before an audience of network bigwigs, Witt-Thomas Productions officials, writers, technicians and various hangers-on, including one reporter. Two elements impress the casual visitor. One is almost a cinematic number of scene changes. The action moves from a restaurant-bar to Rhea Perlman's kitchen to Malcolm McDowell's classroom to the kitchen, back to the classroom, to the restaurant, etc. The other element was a question mark: How can people who have heard the same jokes over and over in rehearsal laugh so heartily when they are spoken again? To keep up the actors' morales, perhaps. "Pearl" is one of the new series that carry CBS' hopes to break out of the ratings doldrums. It was originally scheduled for Wednesday nights. But with the delay of the Ted Danson-Mary Steenburgen "Ink," it has been slipped into the post-Cosby slot at 7:30 p.m. Mondays until Oct. 21 when a revamped "Ink" is set to air. ("Pearl" had an encouraging first outing this week, landing a robust 25 percent of all TV homes watching TV that half-hour.) Perlman plays a working mother who decides to go to college. This puts her at odds with her gruff humanities professor, McDowell, in his version of the John Houseman role. Since she is also the executive producer of "Pearl," Perlman went into conference with the other powers for a critique of the rehearsal. The fina l result would be played before an audience two days hence. "I got a big mouth, and I get to use it," she laughs, a reference to her role as Pearl Caraldo. Why take on a series when she has three growing children at home and a husband (Danny DeVito) who is gainfully employed? "The work is very doable in terms of having a family," she explains. …

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