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Cafe Americain aired from September 1993 until February 1994 on NBC.

Holly Aldridge ( Valerie Bertinelli), was a flighty young divorcee from Minneapolis seeking adventure in glamorous Paris in this quaint, rather old-fashioned comedy. It was all rather like a 1950's MGM musical without the music-naiive American damsel faces mixups and struggles with the language, cranky French Landladies, suave roues who had only romance on their minds. Holly ostensibly came to take a job translating English to English (sic) for a French firm, but when that fell through she stumbled into the Cafe Americain, a fabled hangout for oddballs and expatriots. Among the habitues were Margaret ( Lila Kaye), the worldly no-nonsense owner, who gave her a job; Fabiana (Sofia Milos), an egocentric supermodel;Marcel( Maurice Godin), a suaave Frenchman ( and mineral water salesman), with eyes for Holly; Madame Ybarra (Jodi Long), regal former first lady of an unspecified Asian country whose husband had been deposed; and Steve ( Graham Beckel), a grumpy American businessman.

Holly lived in a tiny Apartment that was once Balzac's closet. In one concession to the 1990's, she videotaped letters home to her sister. Two leftover episodes of this series were aired on May 28, 1994. Then we bid adieu to Holly.

A Review from variety

September 17, 1993 12:00AM PT
Cafe Americain
Valerie Bertinelli debuts in a series about Minneapolis divorcee Holly Aldridge, who hits Paris with the idea of bowling the town over, which she almost does because she's such a klutz. The lean comedy strains to please, and the strain shows; looks like Holly will soon be back in Minnesota.

By Tony Scott

Holly, with a job translating American idioms for a French firm, has a hole in the wall for an apartment. Her only refuge would seem to be the Cafe Americain — a weak takeoff on Harry’s New York Bar — where she gets a job after a series of unfunny mishaps.

The bistro is owned by Margaret Hunt (played by a restricted Lila Kaye). Too bad Kaye doesn’t have more to do, since she earns the only real laugh with shtick about drying her hands.

As for the other characters, writer Peter Noah falls back on determined eccentrics and habitues: Graham Beckel’s Steve Sullivan, longtime Paris resident who dislikes the city; Jodi Long as an angry, royal widow of a chief of state; Maurice Godin’s Marcel, a Frenchman who takes a liking to Holly, and Sofia Milos as a self-centered fashion model. Lilyan Chauvin has a good start as Holly’s firm landlady.

Director James Burrows can’t pull much out of the lame script, which includes freeze-framing while Holly explains how she feels, and Holly videotaping a letter home to her sister. The devices annoy more than they communicate.

Bertinelli’s Holly, whose outfits look like they were run up by loving hands at home, is purposeful if not interesting. Program’s intro shows her tossing her hat in the air a la Mary Tyler Moore — and dropping it. Just so.

Too many characters are cliches, but Kaye’s firm, authoritative Margaret Hunt stands out. Marion Ross was brought in temporarily to play the role, but it went back to Kaye, where it belongs.

Cafe Americain

(Sat. (18), 8:30-9 p.m., NBC)

Production: Filmed at Warner Bros. by Peter Noah Prods. and Warner Bros. TV. Exec producers, Jack Grossbart, Peter Noah; producer, Pamela Grant; director, James Burrows; writer-creator, Noah.

Crew: Camera, Ronald W. Browne; editor, Jay Scherberth; art director, Jane Fletcher; sound, Robert Crosby; music, Roger Bellon.

Cast: Cast: Valerie Bertinelli, Maurice Godin, Graham Beckel, Jodi Long, Sofia Milos, Lila Kaye, Peter Spears, Lilyan Chauvin, Barry Dennen, Lena Pousette, Francoise Bush.

A Review From USA TODAY
Published: September 17, 1993

French Dip

Valerie Bertinelli is heroically perky in Cafe Americain ( **NBC, Saturday at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT), bubbly and babbling as she tries to keep this labored sitcom aloft.

Even she can't help but wince and cringe by the third or fourth time she spills drinks on a cute businessman ( Maurice Godin) who fractures his American idioms. A newly divorced Minnesotan who heads hopefully to Paris, poor Val loses her money and her job, and ends up at a dingy bar for dissolutes and exiles when not griping to her camcorder.

Vive la Valerie, but Cafe Americain is no bonbon.

It's not bon at all. It is-how you say?-a steen-ker.

An Article From USA TODAY
Published: September 24, 1993

Upbeat Bertinelli hoped folks warm up to 'Cafe'

By Donna Gable

NEW YORK-" Hey you wanna go shoe shopping? There's this great store on West Broadway and they're open 'till 8:30" squeels a make-up free, J. crew-clad Valerie Bertinelli.

She bounces up, scurries into the bedroom, rifles through the open garment bag on the floor and produces a pair of Doc Martens-style black boots.

" Aren't they great? I love them. I got them here in March and need another pair."

Bertinelli -TV's all-American girl next door- is in town to tout her new series, Cafe Americain on NBC.

The sitcom-about an American divorcee serving up drinks in a Paris cafe-premiered last week at No. 25, paired with the debut of The Mommies.

Saturday, Cafe takes its regular 8:30 p.m. ET/PT time slot up against the return of CBS' Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. In a bid to boost viewership, NBC airs the preview again tonight at 10:30.

Though reviews have been less than enthusiastic, Bertinelli promises that, like a fine French wine, " the show gets better" with age.

Besides, " you can't believe everything you read."

Like tabloid reports that her " loving husband" of 12 years ( rocker Eddie Van Halen) is about to leave because of her alleged " weight problem."

" God, that drives me crazy," she says, running her hands through her long, dark chestnut locks.

" First of all, I'm five pounds within my pre-pregnancy weight," she says. " And even if I was fat, Ed wouldn't leave me because he's not a cad."

Ah, life in the spotlight, she sighs.

Bertinelli has percolated on TV since 1975, when Norman Lear cast her as a teen-ager on One Day at a Time, which remained in the top 20 for most of its 9 seasons.

A succession of TV movies and miniseries followed.

Nov. 9, she stars in CBS' movie Murder of Innocence, about a young woman's descent into insanty.

But her favorite project is still in development: her 2 1/2 -year-old son, Wolfgang ( " the most adorable little child in the world"), named for his guitar-wiz dad's idol, composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

He often shows signs of being a chip-off-the-old pick, she says, often plucking one of the pint-size guitars strewn throughout their San Fernando Valley, Calif., home.

" I called home last night and Wolfie sang me the Barney song-the whole song, in key and everything. Ed and I were both in tears."

For Bertinelli, Cafe is more than a chance for another hit series: " It's a chance to work at a job I love and still go home at lunch, make dinner for my family and give my son his bath at night. "

But if the show fails, she says, all is not lost.

" I'm totally blessed," she beams. " Life is wonderful."

A Review from Entertainment Weekly

Reviewed by Ken Tucker | Oct 29, 1993

Tired of suburban family sitcoms? Give cafe americain (NBC,Saturdays, 8:30-9 p.m.)-a show about an American woman in Paris-avisit. Valerie Bertinelli plays Holly Aldridge, recently arrived inFrance and employed as the assistant manager of the cozy CafeAmericain. Writer-creator Peter Noah (Anything but Love) has stuffedthis tiny restaurant with more oddball sitcom characters than iscomfortable; the best of them are Graham Beckel as a grumpy,xenophobic American businessman who would rather import Hostess SnoBalls from his native Ohio than eat a croissant, and Sofia Milos asthe ferociously self- absorbed Italian model Fabiana.Cafe hasn't been helped in the ratings by its dreadful lead-in,The Mommies, nor by its popular CBS competition, Dr. Quinn. But thisis one of the few new series whose quality has steadily improvedsince its debut. Bertinelli has settled into a sort of controlleddither-her character is always in a sweat because she hasn't learnedFrench-that is charming rather than annoying. So is herEnglish-mangling pal Marcel (Maurice Godin): ''Holly, you are sobright-eyed and mushy-tailed.'' Besides, any show that persists inmaking amusing jokes about Sartre and Roland Barthes, knowing fullwell that most of its audience won't know what the devil it's talkingabout, deserves encouragement. B

An Article from The Chicago Tribune

Van Halen Visits `Cafe Americain' For A Scene With Wife Bertinelli
November 06, 1993|By Mike Duffy, Knight-Ridder/Tribune.

Rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen will be unplugged Saturday for a cameo appearance on "Cafe Americain," the NBC sitcom starring his wife, Valerie Bertinelli.

Portraying a scruffy Paris street musician, Van Halen arrives in the show's opening scene (7:30 p.m. on WMAQ-Ch. 5). Bertinelli enjoyed the opportunity to trade sitcom barbs with her husband of 12 years, a native of Amsterdam who forsakes English for their brief TV exchange.

"He speaks to me in Dutch, gives me lascivious looks and I get to throw him out of the cafe," Bertinelli said, laughing, by phone from Los Angeles.

Though generally overlooked by critics this fall, "Cafe Americain" has been a modest success for NBC in a tough time slot. Opposite Jane Seymour's popular "Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman," Bertinelli & Co. have been finishing No. 2 in the time period. But among women 18 to 34, an audience advertisers love, "Cafe Americain" is No. 1 in its time slot. So NBC has renewed the series through next spring.

"They're really sticking by us," Bertinelli said. "That's important. This is the sort of show you have to leave on the air and let people find."

A blithe screwball comedy, "Cafe Americain" makes no pretensions to cutting-edge hipness. Bertinelli plays Holly Aldridge, a resourceful, divorced American with Midwestern pluck who moves to Paris to begin a new life. She winds up working at the famed Cafe Americain, bantering with an amusing collection of oddball cafe regulars.

"Holly's strong in a naive, wide-eyed kind of way," said Bertinelli, who began her career as a teenager on "One Day at a Time" nearly 20 years ago.

Later this month, Bertinelli will star as a mentally unstable woman who brutally assaults her husband, in "Murder of Innocence," a fact-based movie airing Nov. 30 on CBS.

"It's the toughest thing I've ever done in my life," said Bertinelli, who has had a very successful run in such trauma-laden TV movies as "Shattered Vows," "Silent Witness" and "In A Child's Name."

Away from "Cafe Americain" and TV movies, Bertinelli spends much of her time at home with Van Halen and their 2 1/2-year-old son, Wolfgang, often laughing.

"We laugh because we're always hearing that we're unhappy," Bertinelli said. "That's just not true. But every six months, some tabloid comes out and says we're breaking up. It's ridiculous."

An Article from USA TODAY
Published: January 18, 1994

'Cafe' imitates life for actress Lila Kaye

By Donna Gable

Like her character in Cafe Americain, British actress Lila Kaye has wilted away many an hour in the company of luminaries and legends.

Margaret, the brash cafe owner in the NBC sitcom, has fed ( and in some cases bedded) such notables as Ernest Hemingway and Charles de Gaulle.

During Kaye's real life salad days at Le Petit Club Francaise , a famed literary haunt in London, she rubbed elbows with the likes of British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber who scored Cats, Evita and Phantom of the Opera.

The only difference deadpans Kaye, " is that I wasn't meeting and greeting. I was peeling vegetables in the 'hole.'" While she was working as a cook's assistant " sweating away" in the kitchen, she recalls, " Andrew Lloyd Webber came down to give us tips. He gave me a fiver ( five pounds). It was the most beautiful fiver I've ever had in my hands."

When she came face to face with the imposing de Gaulle, she says, " He said something in French and I just nodded my head. I was overwhelmed by him."

On tonight's show ( 9:30 ET/PT), Kaye takes a short trip down de ja vu lane when a young girl talks Margaret into hosting a literary night at Cafe Americain.

" There are many experiences that I call on in my own life to compare with Margaret's" says Kaye, who based her alter-ego on " Fat" Mary Sheedy, " a friend of my mum's" who ran a pub.

" Mary had such a way with her," says the 61 year old actress. " She had a big beautiful, wonderful face. She was sexy, vivacious, maternal...I tell you, when she died, the whole of Brighton turned out for Mary Sheedy's funeral."

She also sang like an angel, she adds, a trait she'd love to incorporate into her Cafe character.

" Why shouldn't Margaret sing?" she askes. " She's known all the great jazz people."

And what would Mary Sheedy think of all this? " She'd love it! She'd say, ' You're on the right track, there girlie,'" she chortles. " Ah , Mary...without her, I don't know what I'd be."

An Article from The Washington Post

By Patricia Brennan January 30, 1994

Valerie Bertinelli's "Cafe Americain" has an eclectic international cast and

a new time slot. But if it didn't have Bertinelli, it wouldn't be here.

"Cafe" started out last October with a Saturday night slot and shaky ratings. During its stay on Saturday night, the series averaged an 8.3 rating/15 share, averaging 74th of 100 shows.

In early January, NBC moved the series to Tuesdays at 9:30, although it's not airing this week. Despite shaky ratings there as well, Bertinelli, a proven TV draw, and company have been assured they can spin their adventures across a full season.

"This show is ahead of its time, even if it fails," said Graham Beckel, who plays disgruntled American businessman Steve Sullivan. "If we can make this work, great, but if not, somebody will."

Bertinelli plays Holly, a young American working as a waitress in a Parisian cafe run by Margaret, an American expatriate. The cafe draws an assortment of customers, most of them with at least some grasp of English (although the show has used subtitles).

From the standpoint of its international cast, "Cafe" is an unusual series. Lila Kaye, who plays Margaret, is a veteran British actress; Sofia Milos, who plays flamboyant and egotistical model Fabiana Borelli, and Luigi Amodeo, who plays underwear model Carlo Benini, Fabiana's madly jealous boyfriend, are both Italian; and Maurice Godin as Marcel, who first romanced Fabiana and now Holly, is a French-Canadian from Toronto.

Jodi Long, who plays sharp-tongued Madame Ybarra, and Beckel are from New York City.

The show hasn't relied much on guests, but the few who have shown up have been interesting: Bertinelli's husband, rocker Eddie Van Halen, as a street musician, and former "Laugh-In" comic Arte Johnson as the photographer Pascal.

The series got under way last fall when Holly, recovering from a divorce, set off for a new life in Paris and met the audacious Fabiana on the airplane.

"Fabiana is an exaggerated character, but there are models like her," said Milos, who worked in that world from ages 15 to 25. "For me, personally, it is in a way life imitating art."

Born in Rome, the daughter of a Greek mother and Italian father, Milos grew up in a traditional Catholic family with an older brother. "If it were my father's choice, I'd be singing in the church choir," she said.

But that's not what happened. At 13, Milos posed for a prominent Roman portrait artist. At 15, she moved to Milan, alone, and began appearing on magazine covers. Then she moved to Munich and Paris and made commercials. At 17, she appeared in Italian and French films.

Along the way, she picked up Italian, French, English, German and Greek and now is studying Farsi. "It's a very sexy language," she said. "But they cover up their women. I just wanted to look into their culture because I was so outraged. I'm a very feministic woman, and it was driving me crazy."

When Milos arrived in the United States four years ago, she also found that her English wasn't as good as she had thought.

"When I first got here, I couldn't understand," she said. "I missed 90 percent of the jokes. It took me one whole year to get {the meaning of} 'that doesn't cut the mustard.' "

When she was modeling, Milos, who is 5 feet 8, weighed between 107 and 112 pounds. "If I hit 112, I'd be freaking out." Now, she said, she weighs about 120.

Brighton-born Lila Kaye, who plays the American owner of the cafe, bases part of her character on her mother and part on her mother's best friend, Fat Mary, who ran clubs in Sussex and outside London.

"She was like a Damon Runyon character, and a handsome woman, and I often think about her," said Kaye.

"I was just a child. When she was singing very risque songs, I was ordered out of the room. She took me to Ascot and she would dress me up in a little hat. I remember we stopped at a pub and everybody knew her. She ordered a Pimm's and I said, 'I'll have one,' and I had three. I remember everybody being so terribly elegant, and Mary had a cocky little hat with a feather. She had one of the greatest funerals I've ever attended."

Lila Kaye is also a bit of a character, having worked as a vegetable chef and a waitress at a club in London while she was trying to keep her acting career alive.

"Margaret's a great character," said Kaye. "She's been around and seen so much at such a young age. And Margaret and I, we're both big women, physically. I just don't disappear in the crowd."

Graham Beckel thought his role as Steve Sullivan was to be only a guest spot in the pilot, but found that the writers had decided to keep the character.

Beckel grew up in Greenwich Village and in Lyme, Conn. As a college student in the late '60s, he decided to quit school and tour Europe.

"I had no confidence in any institution in the western world -- I was that age," recalled Beckel. "I decided I had to go back to the cornerstone, the Greeks, and find the most viable entity, the Oracle at Delphi. There were a lot of students abroad. They were doing the cave thing in Crete, and a lot of them were hanging out in Corfu. I slept in the Temple of Athena, and I was determined that I was going to hang out there until I got some guidance. And then, as I was standing there, looking over the olive groves that go down toward the sea, on a breeze came a word: It said, 'Go be an actor.' "

Beckel returned home and enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, graduating in 1972. His feature and television movies include "Murder of Innocence" with Bertinelli.

To the show's writers, Madame Ybarra, the somewhat arrogant wife of a deposed dictator, is a combination of Leona Helmsley and Imelda Marcos. To Jodi Long, who plays her, she's "a CHAP, a Chinese-American Princess. But underneath it all, she has the soul of a peasant in the rice paddies."

Long has seen a mellowing of Madame. "She started out with one-liners, putting everyone down, but she's kind of softened a little bit. She's got a silly side. Anything can come out of her mouth."

Long is the daughter of a Japanese-American mother from Portland, Ore., who was interned on the West Coast during World War II. After the war, she went to New York and was working as a showgirl when she met Long's Australian-born father, a dancer, descended from a redheaded Scottish immigrant and her Chinese husband. The couple married and settled in Queens.

Long made her Broadway debut at age 7, in "Nowhere to Go But Up." When she attended New York's School for the Performing Arts, her goal was "to get rid of my Queens accent and go on to Harvard. I wanted to become a trial lawyer."

But the pull of the stage was stronger. She majored in theater at the State University of New York at Purchase.

"My father said to me, 'Get the best training you can,' and I'm forever grateful to him" she recalled.

Long did "Loose Ends" with Kevin Kline at Arena Stage here and on Broadway, and appeared here again in a 90-minute one-woman multimedia monologue, "A Thousand Airplanes on the Roof," directed by David Wong, who wrote "M. Butterfly."

Coincidentally, Long's first show out of school, "Fathers and Sons," starred Richard Chamberlain but also featured Beckel. "When I walked on the {"Cafe Americain"} set and saw him, my heart leapt, and I thought, 'This is great.' When Graham and I have scenes together, I like to think there's a special thing between us."

Maurice Godin, who plays Marcel, Holly's Parisian love interest, is the son of a French-Canadian ironworker from New Brunswick who was appalled when the youngest of his three sons got hooked on acting. "He didn't have much time for the arts," recalled Godin.

About 10 years into Godin's career, when he had established himself and appeared in Canada's Shaw and Stratford Shakespeare festivals his father finally saw him act, on an episode of "Night Heat."

In "Cafe," he gets to speak French, but because Godin's French is not Parisian, he thinks of Marcel "as someone whose parents lived in the country, so you get a little foreign lilt to it."

To watch some clips from Cafe Americain go to

For more on Cafe Americain go to
Date: Thu April 26, 2012 � Filesize: 63.4kb, 135.5kbDimensions: 1000 x 783 �
Keywords: Cafe Americain (Links Updated 7/24/18)


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