New, Improved and Funnier Ann Jillian Launches TV Assault


The Ann Jillian you see assaulting the airwaves these days is a new, improved model.

She's less blonde, more subdued, no longer the glossy--sometimes brassy--glamour girl she was when she first hit Hollywood.

And she's lightened up from the sometimes heavy drama she has been doing in "Ellis Island," "Convicted: A Mother's Story," "Mae West" and the on- and off-screen melodrama chronicled in her autobiography, "The Ann Jillian Story."

The sojourn into heavy material improved her timing and technique for comedy, which she uses in three major television projects set to air within days of each other.

Tonight's two-hour NBC movie "Little White Lies" begins The Ann Jillian Television Festival with the actress-singer portraying a policewoman--which she knows quite a little about because she's married to a cop.

Then there is the Thursday airing of the pilot to the "Ann Jillian" series, which settles into its regular Sunday slot on Dec. 3.

" 'Little White Lies' is a romantic comedy with Tim Matheson playing my love interest. I play a policewoman. He's a doctor and they hide their professional identities when they first meet, but then they fall in love," says Jillian.

"It is the kind of light comedy the movies used to make in the '40s and '50s. I think we've really captured the same romantic feeling," she said.

On her new series, Jillian plays a widow with a 14-year-old daughter. She's an ex-Radio City Music Hall Rockette and a New Yorker who moves to a small California town. It's a sitcom dealing with the complicated relationship between mother and daughter.

"I'd describe this show as being close to the heart. I've never been a mother, but I've played a few in other projects and I have a lot of friends with teen-age daughters.

"I feel comfortable in the role with Lisa Rieffel, who plays my daughter. Working with Lisa is such a pleasure I'd like to have a teen-age girl of my own."

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