NBC’s offbeat soap, “Santa Barbara,” introduces an attention-grabber for sweeps month--male cross-dressing. On Nov. 14, the producers will put women’s clothes on brawny gangster Bunny Tagliatti, played by Joe Marinelli. The heterosexual thug will begin “dressing up” as a disguise, find that he likes it and eventually take his new compulsion to a shrink.
Exec producer Jill Farren Phelps told head writer Chuck Pratt to “go for it” in creating an unusual character to replace the comedic character of District Attorney Keith Timmons, played by actor Justin Deas, who left to pursue a prime-time career.
“Some of the network people are a little nervous,” Pratt admitted, “but have given their OK.”
Marinelli, dress size 12, said he’s “thrilled” about his new character: “It’s the role of a lifetime--both comic and serious. I never thought I’d wear women’s clothing, even on Halloween.”
“SB” costumer Richard Bloore said the actor “will be wearing evening attire with bugle beads and gold lame and daytime wear with ruffles. Pretty much off-the-rack stuff, (from) upscale Mr. Frank and Nordstroms.”
Walking in heels has not been a problem, Marinelli added, “but the panty hose is a little difficult to get on.”