Monday, June 17, 2024

“Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” Eyes Revival with “Schitt’s Creek” Actress But No One Can Replace Louise Lasser and Mary Kay Place


The brilliant satire from the mid 1970s, “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” is going to be revived. Good luck.

“Schitt’s Creek” actress Emily Hampshire will play an updated Mary. No other cast has been announced.

The original show, a parody of soap operas before Susan developed “Soap,” ran for two seasons (325 episodes), and was created by Gail Parent, Ann Marcus, Jerry Adelman and Daniel Gregory Browne. It was broadcast in syndication Monday through Friday at 11:30pm, five days a week. The result was a worn out cast that had to respond to overnight fame and incredibly popularity. The star, Louise Lasser, barely made it to the end.

“Mary Hartman” spun off two shows, “Fernwood Tonight” and “Forever Fernwood.” The former featured Martin Mull and Fred Willard, basically turning them into stars, as well. The rest of the “Mary Hartman” cast included Mary Kay Place, Dody Goodman, Phil Bruns, Graham Jarvis, Debralee Scott, and Greg Mullavey. Goodman and Bruns were already well known. Place — who was the hilarious aspiring country singer Loretta Haggers — has gone on to a stellar acting career of four decades. The sublime Marian Mercer and Dabney Coleman played the memorable Jeeters.

Lasser, who was burned out from “Mary Hartman,” retreated after the series into a semi-retirement. When she took the role, she was famous from Woody Allen’s “Bananas.” She was also the director’s second wife.

“Mary Hartman” depended on a kind of subversive knowledge of the culture, a sublime way to poke fun at suburbia and middle America. It’s a sense of humor that doesn’t exist anymore in the PC world. That kind of satire might exist in some indie film space, but I doubt these new people will get it, or be allowed to do it. As awful as the people of Fernwood were, that’s what America has become.

To wit: Loretta was a guest on “The Dinah Shore Show.” It was her big break. Live on the air, Dinah told Loretta she was Jewish. “Them’s the people what killed our Lord,” Loretta replied. Trust me, we’re not going to hear that now.

This will be a disaster, but that won’t stop anyone from trying to make money from it.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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