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Sister Kate aired from September 1989 until July 1990 on NBC.
In one of 1989's more intriguing bits of casting, Stephanie Beacham , most recently seen as the scheming vixen Sable on The Colbys and Dynasty, donned a nun's habit and confronted a bunch of scheming orphans in this cutesy comedy. The unruly kids of Redemption House had already driven out three kindly old priests, but they proved to be no match for "Sister Mary Rambo." She had been transferred to the orphanage from an archeological dig, a move she had not requested. (" Sifting through the bones of ancient skeletons...is my preferred way of dealing with people.")But Sister Kate managed to outwit the little plotters at every turn.
Appearing as her charges were Jason Priestley as teenager Todd Mahaffey; Erin Reed as teenager April Newberry; Hannah Cutrona as teenager Freddy Marasco; Penina Segall as twelve-year-old Hilary Logan; Harley Cross as eleven-year-old Eugene Colodner; Alexandria Simmon as nine-year-old Violet Johnson; and Joel Robinson as seven-year-old Neville Williams. Lucas Underwood ( Gordon Jump) was Sister Kate's superior.
There were plenty of the moral lessons one expects from a show like this, and an ample supply of heartwarming moments, as when some possible adoptive parents came to look over the kids . Out came young Hilary wearing a sign reading " Low Mileage," and Eugene with one that said "$500 Rebate." Awwww.
An Article from the Desert News
`SABLE' WILL TRADE DESIGNER FROCKS FOR NUN'S HABIT IN NEW ABC SERIES
By Kathryn Baker, AP Television writer
Published: August 7, 1989 12:00 am
For Stephanie Beacham, changing jobs this coming season has meant a radical change of uniform.
Instead of the designer clothes she wore as wealthy Sable Colby on ABC's "Dynasty," she'll don a nun's habit for the title role in the new NBC sitcom "Sister Kate.""That's very tiresome, having six costume fittings a week," she said. "It's going to be heaven just being in a little navy-blue skirt and white blouse, thank you very much. That's wardrobe now."
Beacham, meeting with television critics who had gathered to preview the new fall shows, said playing a nun is actually closer to her own upbringing than was the role as the rich and flighty Sable.
"Anybody who knows me knows it was more of a stretch for me to do Sable in some ways than it will be for me to do Kate," Beacham said.
"I'm a little Girl Guide: `Good, better, best, never let it rest, till the good is better and the better, best."'
Beacham's "Sister Kate" is no sappy Singing Nun, nor is she anything like the earnest, neophyte sister played by Sally Field in television days of yore. Kate is a no-nonsense house mother to a pack of often trying orphans.
Beacham said she met some activist nuns who help the homeless and she hopes to use them as role models. "I will be talking to them a lot, because they're very keen that nuns don't seem wimpy. I think they're sick and tired of singing nuns and soppy nuns. These women are dedicated to improving everybody's lives, and also to not being seen as straight and boring and tiresome. They want to help, and they want to have fun."
Beacham said she also draws from childhood experience for the characterization of tough Sister Kate, having been sent to a convent school when she was a young child in England. "My early education was my nuns," she said. "And I love them, I love the nuns that brought me up, and I was very frightened of them. And I look forward to the idea of being as frightening as Sister Mary Cyrill was to me."
Beacham said her upbringing stuck with her and now forms a back story for Sister Kate, including deviations such as posing for photographs that turned up later in Playboy magazine. "I think those nuns getting at me at 4 1/2 was very, very important," she said. "I think I owe them a hell of a lot. . . . What is it? `Give me a child until he is 6 and I will show you the man'? I'm sure that's true. When these kids that she's looking after now grow old and get married, they would always come back to visit this crusty nun. It's much deeper in my background than is some billionaire's wife."
The show comes from three executive producers, two of whom are veterans of "Barney Miller."
One of the latter, Jeff Stein, told the television critics that, in a way, he was glad to be in the tough time period that "Sister Kate" has drawn for the fall: opposite CBS' powerhouse "Murder, She Wrote" on Sunday evenings.
"It's actually a good time slot because you're not expected to win," Stein said. "I mean, we're not expected to go in there and get a 45 share (percentage of audience). We're expected to go in there and do a good show and survive."
Stein said he and the other producers saw "hundreds" of people for the part of Sister Kate, and even though they knew Beacham was still under contract to "Dynasty," once they saw her, the part was hers.
After they cast Beacham in the pilot, a lot of money was tied up in the project. Stein said NBC Entertainment President Brandon Tartikoff "took a gamble" that ABC wasn't going to pick up the aging "Dynasty" for another season. If "Dynasty" had not been canceled by ABC, Beacham's contractual obligation would have been to that show.
She seems happy things turned out the way they did. Now she's working with a crowd of kiddies instead of the adult cast on "Dynasty." She said she learned one thing immediately: "Joan (Collins) really wasn't as difficult as I had thought she was."
AN END FOR `DYNASTY'? - Stephanie Beacham, who played Sable Colby on ABC's "Dynasty," says the producers of the canceled night-time soap are considering doing a wrap-up special when all the actors are available next spring.
Beacham is doing the new NBC comedy, "Sister Kate" in the fall. "I think the viewers being stranded is very bad, and I think there's a lot of resentment and there is talk of doing something in Europe in what would be everybody's hiatus next March," she said.
"It would have to be in Europe, and when I asked (executive producer) Esther Shapiro why, she said, because we haven't got any sets. So we're all going to have to go and visit Crystal in Switzerland, she said. So it hasn't been totally laid to rest. There is still a possibility."
An Article from the Sun Sentinel
Religious Sitcom Won`t Be Habit-forming
September 14, 1989|By TOM JICHA, TV/Radio Writer
Stephanie Beacham, the slut from Dynasty, the actress who was bare as a bunny in Playboy, is playing a nun? This I have to see!``
This is precisely what NBC is hoping you`ll say. That`s why Stephanie Beacham, aka Sable Colby, was cast in the title role of Sister Kate. She`s there to get you into the Sister Kate habit, so to speak. Once you`re on the hook, the producers are counting on an orphanage full of scene-stealing youngsters to keep you coming back religiously.
This isn`t to denigrate Beacham. She`s more credible in the role than Sister Kate is as a character. Nuns have evolved into more modern, worldly figures during the past two decades, but Sister Kate is a bit too hip and sharp- tongued. It`s as if the religious life is some kind of work release program for her.
``Twenty-four hours ago,`` she introduces herself to her new charges, ``I was sifting through an archaeological dig on the banks of the Tigris. Then the church in its infinite wisdom sent me to sift through your bones.``
It`s nice to meet you, too.
Granted the antics of this incorrigible bunch could try the patience of the heavenly choir, but Sister Kate`s uncharacteristically mean-spirited icebreaker occurs before she is fully acquainted with her instant brood.
Her notoriety as a vamp on Dynasty notwithstanding, Beacham said that segueing into a nun isn`t the stretch it might seem. She never enjoyed the standing or privilege of the Colbys in real life, but she did attend a convent school from ages 4 through 12 and retains vivid memories. ``It`s going to be very interesting to sift back to that, to things like Sister Mary Philomena sticking the ruler down my back.``
She stressed, however, that Sister Kate ``is not trying to send America to Sunday school. (Redemption House) is a Catholic charitable organization that runs the place, but we`re not playing these as Catholic kids, and Kate doesn`t proselytize.
``Kate is a larger than life figure. What kid wouldn`t quake in his boots if she gave him the evil eye?``
As long as she asked, the answer is the brazen kids in Sister Kate. ``That`s where the comedy will come from,`` she explained.
Sister Kate`s salvation is dependent upon how well these youngsters are accepted by the audience. For insurance, the ethnic, gender, racial and age spectrum is covered as only television can.
The tyke most likely to achieve instant stardom is Joel Robinson as Neville, an aspiring Rastafarian whose tough-as-nails exterior serves as a facade for a lonely, scared young man who yearns only to be noticed and loved.
``So where`e your guitar?`` he demands on the nun`s arrival. ``Where`s your tap shoes?`` she counters. When the two eventually reach an understanding, it provides the premiere`s most poignant and memorable moment.
Neville`s Redemption House roommates -- two teen-age boys, two teen-age girls, a young man in a wheelchair and a feisty female adversary for Neville -- will take awhile to sort themselves out. All obviously have been chosen with an eye toward the covers of adolescent monthlies, but the constraints of a half-hour pilot work against distinctive character development.
NBC has anointed Sister Kate with a couple of blessed time periods in a bid to build a regular congregation for Sunday nights at 8. The first episode airs Saturday at 9:30 p.m., between the season premiere of The Golden Girls and the perennially high-rated Miss America Pageant. The second Sister Kate is nestled between the 1989-90 debuts of Cosby and Cheers next Thursday.
Still, having to win converts from Murder She Wrote is a devilishly imposing challenge.
-- STARRING: Stephanie Beacham, Harley Cross, Hannah Cutrona, Jason Priestley, Erin Reed, Joel Robinson, Penina Segall, Alexaundria Simmons
-- PREMIERES: Saturday at 9:30 p.m.
-- AIR TIME: Sundays at 8 p.m. on WTVJ-Ch. 4 and WPTV-Ch. 5.
-- TOM JICHA SAYS: The facts are that the concept has been done too many times as well or better for this fun nun and her precocious band to become habit viewing.
A Review from The New York Times
By JOHN J. O'CONNOR
Published: September 15, 1989
In NBC's ''Sister Kate'' (tomorrow at 9:30 P.M.), Stephanie Beacham, once the elegant and formidable Sable on ''Dynasty,'' returns as a nun who is assigned to oversee a group of hard-to-place orphans at a Roman Catholic residence for children. The executive producers and head writers are Frank Dungan, Jeff Stein and Tony Sheehan, all of whom had connections with ''Barney Miller'' and ''Mr. Belvedere.'' Noam Pitlik is the director.
Although she would prefer to be on an anthropological dig, Sister Kate tackles her new assignment with determination and unflagging acerbity. ''Where's your guitar?,'' a cute black youngster asks, clearly a fan of ''The Singing Nun.'' ''I don't know,'' replies the good sister. ''Where are your tap shoes?''
The children range in age from sweet 6-year-olds to troubled teen-agers. When one of the older boys asks Sister Kate if his not being a Catholic is O.K., she assures him: ''Of course, dear. In fact, it's something of a relief.'' The situation in this instance is really rather preposterous, and some of the jokes skirt the borders of tastelessness. But Ms. Beacham is delightful. And the young performers are, yes, adorable, especially Joel Robinson as Neville, all done up in dreadlocks and a reggae speaking lilt. It turns out he's from Jamaica, Queens.
To watch clips of Sister Kate go to https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=sister+kate+tv+show
For more on Sister Kate go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sister_Kate_(television_sitcom)
For the Official Website of Jason Priestley go to http://www.officialjasonpriestley.com/
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Keywords: The Cast of Sister Kate (Links Updated 7/21/18)