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Mama Malone…We Hardly Knew Ye
Back in 1984, the Lila Kaye vehicle Mama Malone premiered on CBS on Wednesdays at 8:30 pm (EST) and I could not have been happier. Besides having some great talent, this how also used one of my favorite concepts, it was a “show within a show.”
Being a fan of Jack Benny, I am a devotee of this conceit, and I am glad to see it alive and well on shows like 30 Rock. Unlike 30 Rock though, which seems to forget they are doing a show sometimes, “Mama Malone” put her cooking show front and center. There was no missing out on it from episode to episode.
So I have an idea, with cooking shows still doing pretty well and network execs always looking for a new idea, it’s time to revive the sitcom/cooking show hybrid. Alton Brown is not that bad of an actor. Think about it.
Now, the show only lasted an abbreviated season, so it’s hard to tell if this would have stood the test of time, but I loved it as a kid. Here’s hoping one day they will release this gem on DVD, so everyone can see Lila Kaye sparkle in the title role.
Kaye played the lead character of Renate Malone (surname rhymes “baloney”). She was a very talented British actor who did a remarkable job in the multirole performance in Nicholas Nickleby. Which is one of the reasons she landed this role.
Since Kaye was British, some controversy surrounded her casting as an Italian-American. The show was also met with some criticism for its broad stereotyping.
Also on the show was Don Amendola as the younger brother, Randee Heller (from Karate Kid) as the daughter, and Evan Richards as Mama’s grandson.
Created by playwright Terence McNally, The show was originally scheduled to debut in the fall of 1982. In a weird twist, the show was bumped a year and a half before it finally premiered to make room for the surprising success of the show Filthy Rich. That show had a nice premiere, but it didn’t pick up steam in 1982 and was quickly canceled.
I often wonder if Mama Malone would have done better if it has been released in 1982 as opposed to 1984.
It is difficult to find any copies of this show, or I would share more, all I have right now at this promo and the perfect faux ethnic theme song, but this is all I have for now. When I locate more, I will share.