Do we really need to watch Kirstie Alley try to lose weight -- again?

Television Critic

Dear Kirstie Alley:

Look, I’m fat too. Maybe not as fat as you, but still, I’ve had three kids and as a TV critic, I spend a fair amount of time on my butt. After 40, it’s so easy to gain, so difficult to lose, even with a workout.

So I get why you’d think starring in a reality show about losing weight and developing some organic products along the way might seem like a good idea--there’s no better motivator than the camera, right?

But it’s not a good idea. Not a good idea at all. You’ve always been entertaining, funny and profane and people may tune into “Kirstie Alley’s Big Life” thinking it will be reassuring to watch a celebrity struggling with the same issues of over-indulgence and sloth that plague us all. But times they have a’changed since you made “Fat Actress,” when everyone thought it was cool that you weren’t afraid to play an insecure, self-involved, overly-catered-to celebrity.

We’re in a recession now, Kirstie, and obesity is considered a medical epidemic. Neither of these problems will be aided by the sight of you sitting on your ample rear in the spacious and fully tricked-out gym of your Spanish-style mansion screaming like a fishwife for your personal-assistant-in-training to find you and your chubby buddy-handyman a really good personal trainer.

You see how something like that opens you up to ridicule? I’m not even going to mention the lemur cage, the fluffy princess cats, the corgis, or the fact that you seem to keep your assistants in a tiny round room accessible only by a child-sized door. Perhaps plus-sized women everywhere will feel encouraged by the fact that your stylist brought a dozen gorgeous dresses to your bedroom so you could choose a New Year’s eve frock.

But I couldn’t help noticing that first you made the poor woman stand surrounded by lemurs even though she was so clearly, and understandably, uncomfortable. But then you’re paying her, right? And giving her a chance to be on TV.

I know you feel bad about yourself at this weight, and it must be hurtful to have unflattering photos occasionally appear in the tabloids. But Kirstie, complaining about the paparazzi as you launch a reality show just makes you look stupid. And frankly reality television does not have a great track record in the personal growth and emotional healing departments. (Like you, Jon and Kate thought it would be a great way to inspire people and earn a little extra cash.)

The last time you went on a diet, you also did it publicly and look how that turned out. That’s why the paps are out there, by the way. Not because you were once thin and beautiful and married to Parker Stevenson, but because you made yourself into a high profile professional dieting success story.

I believe you will lose the weight again, Kirstie, I’m just not convinced it will solve the problem. Maybe the problem is that so-called “Big Life.” Maybe what you need is a Big Change.

Despite what we have been led to believe by “The Biggest Loser,” losing weight does not make you a better person. It just makes you a thinner person.

So why not devote yourself to good works for a year? Take a trip to Haiti or the Sudan, or join a group like the Peace Corps or Habitat for Humanity. You could help those in need, encourage potential donors and volunteers and lose weight all at the same time -- you would be amazed how a little hard work, a lot of water and a monotonous diet of normal proportions can take off the weight.

Or go more glamorous. Move to Paris, London, Amsterdam or just about any city where walking (or biking) is the main form of transport. Pretend you’re just out of college and living on a budget (no cabs, no fancy restaurants), leave all those personal assistants behind and just Do It Yourself.

Yes, the local pastries are tempting, but when you have to carry your own groceries four or five blocks and then up five flights of stairs to an apartment with a mini-fridge and no counter space, well, you naturally become more judicious.

Either way, you could still have your reality show, but it wouldn’t seem so dated and whiny. I’m worried about you Kirstie, and your kids, Lillie and True. They seem terrific, but honestly, how healthy is it for them to be sitting on your bed all night listening to you complain about being fat and kind of famous? What are you teaching them, exactly? That a grown up woman can’t lose a few pounds without involving her adult children, an entourage and a camera crew?

Come on. You’re better than this. You’re funnier than this. Don’t sell yourself short. In fact, don’t sell yourself at all. If you want to take control of your life, just do it. You don’t need an audience to make it real.


Mary McNamara