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''WKRP in Cincinnati'' returns to TV

Loni Anderson tells EW Online why the show is no ”Laverne & Shirley”

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Loni Anderson

”WKRP in Cincinnati” is on the air again! Tonight through Friday from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., Nick at Nite will rerun the top 40 episodes of the kick-ass 1978-82 CBS sitcom set in a rock-and-roll radio station. Despite the cast’s feathered hairdos, the show is ”not dated at all,” according to costar Loni Anderson (buxom receptionist Jennifer Marlowe), who’ll cohost the marathon with Howard Hesseman (DJ Dr. Johnny Fever). ”The writing was spectacular, and the cast really clicked,” she tells EW Online.

Want proof that the series still holds up? Anderson has been showing tapes of the old episodes to her 10-year-old son, Quinton, (from her famously failed marriage to Burt Reynolds): ”He thinks they’re so funny. He’s just the right age for getting the humor of ‘WKRP,’ which is sometimes very sophisticated.”

In fact, the humor was sometimes too sophisticated for CBS, which shuffled the show no less than 12 times during its four-year run. Creator Hugh Wilson ”butted heads with the network,” recalls Anderson. ”They would send down the edict that the show should be more like ‘Laverne & Shirley.’ They just wanted it to be sillier.”

Despite — or perhaps because of — these battle experiences, the cast has remained close over the years. ”I just had lunch with all of the guys,” says Anderson. ”Frank (Bonner, a.k.a., smarmy salesman Herb Tarlek) and Howard and Gary (Sandy, a.k.a, station manager Andy Travis) and I all e-mail one another. We’re like family.”

Anderson says that cozy feeling permeated the taping of the wrap-around segments for Nick at Nite: ”We had the best time. They built a little booth for us just like our old booth, and we slipped back into character. We said, ‘Ooh, this is kinda spooky that it’s so easy after all these years to be these people again.”’