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Remembered only for having Eileen Brennan in it, A New Kind of Family was a
briefly seen show about a woman with three kids living with a woman with one
kid. I guess it would be trimmed up years later and became "Kate & Allie"
which was more successful.
Eileen Brennan I knew was the mother of the three kids. I also recalled David Hollander, unmistakeable child actor of the seventies, was one of the kids.
Wow, look who the other two kids were. Laurie Hendler of Gimme A Break and Rob Lowe of Saint Elmo's Fire. Didn't remember them that well.
But what makes this show really stand out was the mother and her one kid. It wasn't Gwynne Gilford and Connie Ann Hearn that anyone who has seen this will recall, it was that they were replaced with a black mother and her one child.
So I decided to check out this show here and see who all the cast was. Big surprise for me to see Telma Hopkins (of Tony Orlando & Dawn, as well as Gimme A Break) and Janet Jackson (Good Times and the Super Bowl Halftime with Justin Timberlake) were the token replacements.
The show offered no explanation for Hopkins and Jackson's arrival or Gilford and Hearn's departure. There was no chemistry between any of the cast members.
At best it was a cute idea, but it is very surprising to see how many people were connected to this show and what they went on to do.
Clearly it was nothing more than a vehicle for Brennan, who then had done supporting work in Last Picture Show and Murder By Death.
Just surprising to think of Janet Jackson, David HOllander, Laurie Hendler, Rob Lowe, Eileen Brennan and Telma Hopkins all together in a show and nothing came of it. Had the show lasted, I wonder if they would have pursued a romance between Brennan and McCann? Ah well.
In 1979 I was a then young 22 year old Hollywood short actor. I was
hired on with A New Kind Of Family to work as a stand-in for the child
regulars (i.e., Lowe and Hollander).
Aside from the fact that the show was not that great to begin with (good idea; badly executed), the star of the series, Eileen Brennan, was being courted to co-star in the movie version of "Private Benjamin". The only thing standing in her way was this series that was not too good.
Not knowing that Ms Brennan had this conflict, I had jotted down some thoughts to Dick Clair, one of the show's producers, on how to maybe make it better. It was all rather amusing when Ms Brennan sent her personal assistant out to the sound stage, demanding that I be forcefully removed and banned from the set. Clearly, Ms Brennan had no desire to want to see or hear of any ideas that might have helped the show.
Being a big fan of Janet Jackson, I was surprised when I found out she
did a show between Good Times and Diff'rent Strokes. And I was further
surprised that Rob Lowe, Laurie Hendler and Telma Hopkins (Laurie and
Telma would go on to co-star on Gimmie A Break) were in it as well. I
don't know if there are any tapes of the show floating around
somewhere, but I would love to see the episodes that aired.
As a footnote, how dare the first reviewer give Janet's credits as "Good Times" and "Superbowl halftime show with Justin Timberlake!" She is an iconic artist who has achieved a multitude of things in her career, and SO doesn't deserve that kind of a label.
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