TV or not TV. . . .
FAMILY: "We're both hard workers. We got that from dad," says Tim Daly, star of the NBC sitcom "Wings."
He is talking about himself and his sister, Tyne Daly, with whom he performs for the first time Thursday when she guest-stars on his series.
Dad was the late actor James Daly, who starred in the TV series "Medical Center" from 1969-1976. Their mother, Hope Newell, is also an actress.
In Thursday's episode, Tyne plays a rich woman who causes havoc among the staff of the commuter airline that is the show's setting.
"It's a delicious part," says the actress, whose normal show business terrain is TV drama ("Cagney & Lacey") and, more recently, the stage ("Gypsy").
"And it was fun to work with Tim. But," she laughs of her sitcom experience, "I didn't know whether to play to the audience or the camera."
Tim, who caught attention in a failed but wonderful CBS series, "Almost Grown," in 1988-89, says he and Tyne "have a similar, straightforward way of working, and we had a really good time. I'd love to do it again on the stage, in something more sustained and deeper."
Speaking about their father, he says: "He had a lot of impact about how we feel about acting and approaching it. When we grew up, acting was considered an honorable and viable occupation in our household. We grew up with a lot of high ideals."
Did he ever act together with his father?
"No. Dad and I were going to do a play together, a summer tour of 'Equus,' in 1978. I was in college at Bennington (Vt.) and it was my first professional acting job. But he died the first day of rehearsals. We were just a few hours apart from working together. I went ahead and did the tour."
Tyne worked with her father "on a couple of occasions. Once, we were in a play, 'Jenny Kissed Me,' at the Bucks County Playhouse in Pennsylvania. Mama was in it, too. And I did four 'Medical Centers,' but there was only one of them in which I really had anything to do with Dad."
Thursday's "Wings" episode may help NBC boost ratings during the November sweeps. But for Tim and Tyne Daly, it's a lot more personal.
THE DEFENDERS: "We thought you were kind of rough on us last year," Chris Cluess, co-executive producer of NBC's "Night Court," is informing us on the phone.
Probably true. But are we fair? You bet, especially if it will fill a column.
Cluess and the other co-exec producer of the Wednesday series, Stu Kreisman, sound like a drive-time radio comedy team as they argue on the horn that "Night Court" may be silly--but there's more character development this fall.
No question that "Night Court" has had top talent over the years: Harry Anderson as the judge; John Larroquette, a four-time Emmy winner as the district attorney; and Richard Moll as the bald bailiff named Bull, who gets married in the Nov. 20 episode--another NBC sweeps maneuver.
Not to mention defense attorney Markie Post, court matron Marsha Warfield and guest-stars such as Mel Torme.
OK--let's get things straight here. We think it really is amazing that "Night Court" is now rolling into its ninth season. We are not alone. Cluess and Kreisman, former "Night Court" writers, rejoined the program last season, thinking it would be the series' final gasp.
"We came back to a show that was on its last legs," admits Cluess, who, with Kreisman, once wrote for the brilliant "SCTV" satirical series. "We wanted to go out on a high note. We worked hard to improve the show. We got fooled. We got picked up."
Kreisman: "It was a slapstick show. A lot of sight gags. The actors were getting tired of it. So we said, 'Let's try to be a little more verbal, a little smarter,' without losing the silliness."
Cluess: "We had these characters America loved and nobody knew these people."
Now we will know them. And life will be better.
BULLETIN BOARD: Jot it down--6 to 9 p.m. Sunday, the first annual AIDS CableThon, "to benefit care organizations for people living with HIV." Lots of celebrities, of course, but the main thing is that dozens of cable systems throughout California are uniting to make the live broadcast available to more than 2 million homes. But check first to make sure your own cable company is carrying it. And if not, why not?
NOTEWORTHY: Last week's "Coach" episode about a gay college football player not only earned the series' highest-ever ratings but was also fully sponsored, ABC says.
CAN'T MISS: If you've read David Brinkley's "Washington Goes to War" about World War II, then you just know you'll want to be home for his Dec. 5, two-hour ABC special commemorating the 50th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. No one has ever done memoir-style TV better than Brinkley. CBS has already announced its own two-hour special about Pearl Harbor for Dec. 7, hosted by Charles Kuralt and Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf. Sounds pretty good, too. Tape 'em both.
BIPARTISAN POLICY: President Bush went on record rooting for the Houston Oilers against the Washington Redskins last Sunday. But NBC showed Vice President Dan Quayle sitting next to Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke at the game. Split ticket?
SIGHTINGS: Is Boston Celtic Kevin McHale about to become a "Cheers" barfly? Check out the series Thursday. . . . And Delta Burke, no longer one of the "Designing Women," does a turn on Carol Burnett's variety series Friday.
IN THE MOOD: Say what you will about cable, but it's pretty thrilling to be able to zap from the Mills Brothers singing "Up a Lazy River" on the Nostalgia Channel to the Commitments knocking out "Try a Little Tenderness" on VH-1. A little cultural history right before your eyes.
PRAISE INDEED: Imogene Coca on Candice Bergen as "Murphy Brown": "She's wonderful. It's a beautifully written character."
BEING THERE: "It's a dog-eat-dog world, and I'm wearing Milk-Bone shorts."--Norm Peterson (George Wendt) in "Cheers."
Say good night, Gracie. . . .