”I’ve gone over the line into mourning,” Jim Carrey says. ”Now I’m sad.” He’s standing backstage at the 10th annual TV Land Awards, reminiscing with the largest collection of In Living Color cast members assembled in 18 years about the sketches they still can’t believe they got on the air. ”Seriously, all of them,” creator Keenen Ivory Wayans says in summary.
For a decade the TV Land Awards have reunited the casts of beloved shows. This year’s event not only celebrated the diversity In Living Color brought to prime time (”We laughed, we cried, we broke down walls…and eventually we elected a president,” Carrey cracked on stage), it also gave Murphy Brown‘s Candice Bergen a chance to remind execs that they needn’t have worried about the likability of a recovering-alcoholic journalist: ”America, with the possible exception of one vice president, found much to like in Murphy and her friends.” EW caught up with the casts as they caught up with one another backstage.
In Living Color (1990-94)
”Immediately what came up was laughter. Like immediately, everybody started joking with everybody,” says Keenen Ivory Wayans of getting the gang — including the Fly Girls! — back together. They had plenty of material after Tommy Davidson swore on stage while the cast accepted the Groundbreaking Award. ”It’s back to the old feeling,” Davidson says. ”We feed off each other, man. We can’t match the experience. Keenen let us do exactly what we did. And a quarter of it got on TV.”
Murphy Brown (1988-98)
It’s fitting that the FYI news team reunited to accept the Impact Award in an election year, when women’s reproductive rights are once again making headlines. It was 20 years ago that Vice President Dan Quayle took issue with anchorwoman Murphy Brown’s (Candice Bergen) decision to become a single mother. ”People ask me, ‘Could there be a Murphy Brown now?’ I say, ‘Are you kidding me? With what’s going on? Of course,”’ says costar Faith Ford, who played Corky Sherwood. ”She was a bold gal, that Murphy. She stands the test of time.” Agrees Bergen, who won five Emmys for the role, ”She was way ahead of the curve.”
Pee-Wee’s Playhouse (1986-91)
While Paul Reubens accepted the Pop Culture Award on his own, he assured us that Chairy was very much on his mind. In fact, Reubens has been looking at pieces of the show’s original set to send to the Museum of Modern Art and the Smithsonian for upcoming exhibitions. Pee-wee’s bicycle, now on display at the Hollywood Museum, remains his most prized memento — at least until he gets the 3-D photo he took with this year’s TV Land Music Icon Award honoree, Aretha Franklin, developed. ”I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to speak,” he admits, ”so I wrote her a note!”
Laverne & Shirley (1976-83)
They were the original two broke girls, which is why Penny Marshall believes that the Milwaukee-set roommate comedy, crowned Fan Favorite, still resonates. ”There was a recession then, and there’s a recession now,” she says. ”We weren’t rich. A lot of people identified with that.” But she does see the show’s move from Brew City to Burbank in season 6 as a ”giant error,” adding, ”I live in California — they don’t look poor there. They are, trust me, they are. But they have houses and a fence with a little yard. It doesn’t look like a basement apartment.”
One Day at a Time (1975-84)
For Valerie Bertinelli, who launched her career as perky daughter Barbara, the night wasn’t just about reuniting with her ”other family” to accept the Innovator Award for the show’s depiction of a single mom (Bonnie Franklin’s divorced Ann Romano) and handling of serious story lines involving sexual harassment, premarital sex, and teen suicide. It was also about relishing the old clips. ”Unfortunately, One Day at a Time isn’t showing anywhere. You don’t get to see them anymore,” Bertinelli says. ”I forgot how high my voice was. I was 15, what are you going to do?” she adds with a laugh. ”We’re just so happy to all be together.”