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Townies aired from September until December 1996 on ABC.

Men were pigs-or at least day-old fish-in this girl buddy sitcom set in the quaint fishing town of Gloucester, Massachusetts. The girls were three high school friends who were now twentysomething waitresses at a local restaurant. Carrie ( Molly Ringwald) was the peacemaker, Shannon ( Jenna Elfman ) the loose liver liable to have naked guys in her apartment, and Denise ( Lauren Graham) the nervous wreck about to become a bride ( if she could pull Ryan (Billy Burr), the father of her baby, away from watching the Boston Celtics long enough). They hung out, bantered with the guys, and dreamt of getting out of Gloucester ( Shannon: "The economy sucks, there's nothing to do, and everything I own smells like fish"). Kurt ( Ron Livingston) was Carrie's platonic pal, Kathy and Mike ( Lee Garlington, Dion Anderson) her traditional parents, Marge ( Conchata Ferrell)the raspy owner of the diner, and Jesse ( Joseph Reitman), Marge's son.

The executive producers were Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner.

A Review from The New York Times


Published: September 18, 1996

Though the production company Carsey-Werner made all the right choices with ''Men Behaving Badly,'' it really flubbed another new, similarly themed show. ''Townies,'' which also begins tonight is a ''Mystic Pizza'' clone about three waitresses in their 20's who are reluctant to grow up or to leave their hometown, Gloucester, Mass. (the source of way too many fish jokes). In her much-hyped move to television, Molly Ringwald plays Carrie, the responsible one. Shannon (Jenna Elfman) is the run-around. Denise (Lauren Graham) is set to marry the father of her infant son.

The characters already seem stale, with no glimmer of personalities that might turn appealing or funny. As the star, Ms. Ringwald is also a victim of bad editing, which allows her to deliver lines and sit there grinning widely, waiting for laughs that are not likely to come.

An Article from Entertainment Weekly
Published on September 20, 1996

Television News
Working Girl
The ex-Brat Packer stars in the new sitcom as a blue-collar waitress out on the town

By David Browne

The scene is both eerily familiar and strikingly different. On a Hollywood soundstage made to resemble a girl's suburban bedroom, the star is sitting straight-backed on a bed. Her hair is once again an orange-peel shade of red. As cameramen set up shots, the actress and her costar run through their segment, which centers on an eternal debate: Is that cute guy hovering around you your friend or your boyfriend?

''He is kinda sexy, even in those stupid clothes his mom buys him,'' recites the actress, pausing for a laugh that, with any luck, an audience will supply later.

The scene could have been lifted from Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, or Pretty in Pink, the mid-'80s, John Hughes-directed movies that transformed Molly Ringwald into both a movie star and a role model for high school girls everywhere. It didn't matter that she dyed her hair (from its natural dark brown) and seemed about as average as Claire Danes later would on My So-Called Life. With their potent combination of parent bashing and MTV-geared soundtracks, the movies plastered a new coat of paint on timeless adolescent angst.

The difference on this summer afternoon is that it is 1996, and the setting is not a feature film but a sitcom Townies, an ABC series in which Ringwald stars as Carrie, a New England diner waitress. After a few more run-throughs Ringwald, who at 5'8 1/2'' seems taller than she appears on screen, retreats to her sparsely decorated dressing room. She lights up a cigarette and puts her feet up. Her face is narrower than it was, but there remains the air of the cultured high schooler who always made the honor roll and had a really sharp car.

A sitcom job isn't the only aspect of Ringwald's world that has changed. She recently returned to Los Angeles after a four-year hiatus in Paris, and she talks about her first encounter with her new neighbor Shannen Doherty. ''[My roommates and I] said, 'Hi, we're your neighbors!''' Ringwald recalls. ''She said to me: 'I know who you are. You don't live here you rent!''' Ringwald's eyes spring open, as if still startled by the incident. Welcome or welcome back to L.A.

The house that Ringwald has just moved into is an airy, Spanish-style Hollywood Hills home. Empty boxes litter the driveway; a massive stereo has yet to be hooked up. Curling up on a couch near her pool, Ringwald talks about the 26-year-old she plays. ''There are lots of people in my generation those characters I played in Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles that have grown up and gotten to that point of 'What do I do with my life?'''

Ringwald herself, who is 28, could qualify as one of them. After her initial fame, her career seemed to end as soon as the '80s did. Seeking to escape stereotyping, she played a white-trash nymphet (1988's Fresh Horses) and appeared in Jean-Luc Godard's avant-garde King Lear, among other duds. Whether confused or bored, her audience drifted away, and her box office plunged especially once she stopped working with Hughes: 1985's The Breakfast Club grossed $46 million, but five years later, Strike It Rich took in approximately one percent of that $553,000. A production deal with Columbia amounted to zip.

''I wanted to work, and I felt rejected,'' she says. ''On the other hand, people didn't know where to place me. I wasn't a teenager anymore, but I didn't look quite like an adult yet. With all those things, it was good I went away for a while.''

Where she went was Paris, in 1991, to work on one of the many independent, low-budget films she has made and that few have seen. Always intrigued by French culture, and disliking Hollywood, she decided to stay. She says her agent laughed when she told him; her mother, Adele, cried. ''We were happy for her,'' says her father, jazz pianist Bob Ringwald, of her move. ''And she was away from the pressures of the business.''

Letting her hair grow out and return to its natural shade, Ringwald devised a plan: She would return to the States for a quick job, then scoot back with the cash to Paris and her beau, fledgling novelist Valery Lamiegnere. ''I thought, 'I'll just go back to America and it'll be like the cash register.''' The scheme worked financially, but not professionally. The films made during those years are, says Ringwald, ''nothing I am incredibly proud of.'' In 1995's Malicious, a college-set Fatal Attraction with Ringwald as the Glenn Close-style obsessive, she smoked constantly and wielded a knife. In this year's Baja, a lovers-on-the-lam flick, she smoked constantly and wielded a gun. Malicious, she says, is ''the one that made me wake up and say, 'I can't do this.''' This January, she came home.

Steven Levy, Ringwald's new agent, watches his client film a scene from the empty seats on the Townies soundstage. Young and eager, Levy along with Jason Weinberg, Ringwald's manager is on ''a mission to turn this girl's career around!''

''In the beginning, people said, 'Old news,''' recalls Levy. ''They felt her time had come and gone.'' His predecessors, particularly the William Morris Agency, had attempted to steer Ringwald into series TV but were rebuffed; Ringwald claims the implication was that her movie career was dead.

By the time Ringwald returned to the U.S. this year, that game plan had changed. Her first job was a guest role in the American Movie Classics cable series Remember WENN, for which she was paid scale ($1,800). ''When I told everyone that Molly would be on the show, they said: 'What happened to her? Is she still alive?''' recalls producer Howard Meltzer.

Since then, the hustling has paid off, at least in terms of exposure. Ringwald landed a role in Office Killer, a black-comedy horror film due next year; a cameo in David Schwimmer's directorial debut, Dogwater; and Townies. ''I think this series will do great things for her,'' Levy says, then stops to knock wood on the arm of his chair.

''We heard she had reached a point where she would do the right TV project,'' says Harvey Myman, one of the executive producers of Townies. Asked about Ringwald's career troubles, the amiable Myman questions whether there was a decline and grabs a list of Ringwald's credits.

''Betsy's Wedding,'' he begins reading. ''The Breakfast Club. Face the Music I have no idea what that was. For Keeps I saw that. Wasn't bad. Fresh Horses I don't think I saw that. Malicious she was okay. I didn't like the movie.'' He pauses. ''If you look at anybody with that long a list, there's going to be [some] crummy movies.''

Townies is intended to be a Roseanne for blue-collar Gen-Xers. If it is hard to imagine Ringwald as a working girl slinging chowder, you're not alone. ''There never is and never will be anything schlumpy about her,'' admits Myman. Says Ringwald, ''They were sort of worried, because of the way I dress and speak. And I kept saying 'Well, I'm an actor, and an actor acts!''' Also, Ringwald, never known for a comedic flair, refused to do a test reading (''I'm bad at auditions''). Says Myman, ''We basically rolled the dice.''

Arriving at the Townies set, Myman watches over one last run-through before tonight's filming. Between scenes, Ringwald sips from a Starbucks cup and casts an impatient eye around the set, as if she's waiting for a late bus; at times, she seems like a grown-up version of The Breakfast Club's aloof Claire Standish. ''She's a trouper a real professional,'' says Myman admiringly. He's right; during two days of rehearsals, Ringwald never flubs a line. Yet watching her adjust to sitcom timing is disconcerting, like watching John McEnroe return from retirement to play Ping-Pong.

Back at her house, Ringwald grabs a cigarette and a bottle of spring water. Like everyone around her, she is anxious to see whether the public embraces a downsized version of her old persona or greets her as rudely as Shannen Doherty did. A phrase she uses several times is ''leap of faith'': how her producers took one by hiring her, how she took one to do a sitcom, how she took another to sign with a manager, even though ''I can't say that anyone has my best interest at heart except me and my family.''

She says she looks back on her Brat Pack era ''very fondly although for a while I felt it was all I was known for.'' She sees her fellow Packers ''rarely'' and mainly on screen, as when Emilio Estevez had a part in Mission: Impossible. ''I'm always sort of happy when one of my own'' she pauses and laughs ''no, when one of them breaks out and does something good.'' Asked if she tried drugs which ensnared some of her Hollywood peers she will say only, ''Like anyone else, yeah.''

''I'll never get immersed in this business like I was at one point,'' she says. ''You have to have something else.'' She glances around at her new rental, which she preferred to moving back into her old house. ''I didn't want to feel like I hadn't gone anywhere. Even though it's not decorated and it's a mess, it feels like I'm someplace else.''

To watch clips of Townies go to

For more on Townies go to

For the Official Jenna Elfman Website go to

For a Website dedicated to Lauren Graham go to

For the Townies Page go to
Date: Thu June 26, 2014 � Filesize: 42.4kb, 75.1kbDimensions: 785 x 1000 �
Keywords: The cast of Townies (Links Updated 8/4/18)


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