June 12, 2007
The other life of Joanna Kerns
While watching Knocked Up the other day, I knew I sort of recognized the actress who played Alison's mom--she was hazily familiar, but I couldn't identify her. It turned out to be Joanna Kerns, the mom from "Growing Pains", a show I never watched regularly, but the show was so popular for so long that of course everybody knew who she was.
Joanna Kerns' second career as a TV director has been a lot like that: she's directed an episode or two of popular shows that I've rarely or never actually watched, but could still probably name a lot of the actors on them and all the main plot developments. She directed her first TV episode on her own show during the last season of "Growing Pains", then went on to lots of soapy drama of the '90s: "ER", "Ally McBeal", "Boston Public", and more recently "The Ghost Whisperer". Teen dramas like "Dawson's Creek", "Felicity", "Joan of Arcadia" and "One Tree Hill". Two episodes of "Scrubs". An episode of "Medium" from last month. She's never been a regular series director, but she's clearly made a name for herself and is getting regular work--pretty cool for a sitcom mom.
The Times points out that Joanna Kerns' scene with Katherine Heigl in which she tries unsuccessfully to convince her daughter to "take care of" her pregnancy (the closest anyone gets to saying the word "abortion" is Seth Rogan's pals saying "shmashmortion" a few times) is part of a larger Hollywood trend in which abortions are essentially a non-option. It was a little freaky to watch Maggie Seaver play the pragmatic devil on the main character's shoulder, but I probably should have known she had some range as an actress: in 1983 she was on "V" (sci-fi allegory for the Third Reich), "Laverne & Shirley" (screwball comedy), and "The A-Team" (screwball action).
Another interesting thing I just learned about Knocked Up: the two little girls that play Leslie Mann's and Paul Rudd's kids in the movie are Leslie Mann's and Judd Apatow's daughters in real life. The older girl delivers probably the most adorable reading of the word "penis" in the history of film.
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