With An Eye On. . . : Joanna Gleason steals scenes eith the bestOn CBS’ ‘Love & War,’ Nadine the waitress talks and the whole audience laughs : On CBS’ ‘Love & War,’ Nadine the waitress talks and the whole audience laughs


For more than a decade, Joanna Gleason was one of Broadway’s brightest lights. In 1988, she was the toast of the town, winning the Tony Award for best actress in a musical for Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.” But not even Gleason could save “Nick and Nora,” the troubled musical adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s “The Thin Man.” When the expensive production flopped early last year, Gleason was suddenly unemployed and uncertain about her future.

“I learned a great deal from that experience,” Gleason says. “When a show closes, you have to start all over again. There’s a big difference with knowing you can support yourself when your Broadway show is running, and figuring out that I don’t make enough with teaching and an off-Broadway show to pay my rent.”

So the daughter of famed game-show host Monty (“Let’s Make a Deal”) Hall packed her bags and moved to Los Angeles.


“I thought I would come to L.A. for a while. It will put me in a better position to go back to New York and do more theater, which is all I really ever wanted to do.”

Broadway’s loss has been the small screen’s gain. This season, Gleason has proven to be a first-rate scene stealer in the hit Diane English CBS comedy “Love & War.” Gleason plays the flighty waitress-hostess Nadine, whose husband is in prison for stock fraud.

Gleason landed the job on “Love & War” within six months of moving here. “I had turned down a couple of other things, and suddenly a Diane English show on CBS on the Monday-night lineup presented itself,” Gleason recalls. “I said to myself, ‘You would be a jerk not to take it.’ ”

The show, starring Susan Dey and Jay Thomas, concludes its first season Monday with its future uncertain. Last month, Dey announced that she was leaving the series due to “creative differences.” Gleason says it all came as a surprise to her.

“We ended the season on a very high note,” she says. “I don’t know how it came about. I may never know. I just wish Susie the best. She is wonderful.”

While Gleason waits to see what the show’s fate will be--”I am very curious to see what’s going to happen”--she looks forward to Monday’s episode airing.


“The last show is fun for me because it is about me, “ Gleason says, laughing. “It is about my daughter getting married and my husband Charles, who has been an offstage character, is coming to the wedding, too. That will be fun.”

Nadine’s evolution over the season has been a collaborative effort between the series’ writers and Gleason. “They have encouraged me to be more imaginative and bring more ideas,” Gleason says.

The actress still isn’t use to the recognition she receives from fans. “There’s nothing like spending one season on a major TV show, because everywhere there are people who come up and quote Nadine lines to me,” she says. “It’s astonishing to me.”

“Love & War” airs Mondays at 9:30 p.m. on CBS.