It's a Living (1980 TV series)
|It's a Living|
|Also known as||Making a Living|
|Created by||Stu Silver
Sheryl Lee Ralph
|Theme music composer||George Aliceson Tipton|
|Opening theme||"It's a Living" performed by Leslie Bricusse|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||120 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Paul Junger Witt
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Witt/Thomas Productions
Warner Bros. Television (1985-1986)
|Original channel||ABC (1980–1982)
|Original release||October 30, 1980– April 8, 1989|
It's a Living (also known as Making a Living) is an American sitcom set in a restaurant at the top of the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles. The show aired on ABC from October 30, 1980 until June 11, 1982. After the series was canceled, new episodes aired in first-run syndication from September 28, 1985 to April 8, 1989. The series was created by Stu Silver, Dick Clair and Jenna McMahon, and produced by Witt/Thomas Productions, later in association with Golden West Television (1985–1986) and Lorimar-Telepictures (1986–1989).
The show follows the lives of the waitresses at the posh restaurant Above the Top, located at the top of the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, California. At the helm was supervisor Nancy Beebe (Marian Mercer), the restaurant's maître d’, who sometimes fraternized with the girls but usually gave orders. More often than not, the scheme of the week involved Nancy in some way, which upset her because all she wanted was an orderly wait staff. Adding to the chaotic working environment was a wisecracking pianist named Sonny Mann (Paul Kreppel), who made rude comments to the women, Nancy included, and got insulted in return. The kitchen was the domain of Chef Mario (Bert Remsen); then Dennis Hubner (Earl Boen) and finally Howard Miller (Richard Stahl), who eventually married Nancy.
Like many other sitcoms that aired during the 1980–81 television season, It's a Living felt the effects of the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists strike that occurred in 1980. This caused the show to have a short abbreviated first season and thus it was not a success. The series was retooled extensively, with two of the five waitresses from the first season, actresses Susan Sullivan and Wendy Schaal who played waitresses Lois Adams and Vicki Allen respectively, being replaced with actress Louise Lasser who portrayed waitress Maggie McBurney. Airing in 1981 under the name Making a Living, this iteration did not catch on either, and the show was canceled after two seasons. In syndication, the second season airs under the title It's a Living.
Of all the cast, only Gail Edwards (Dot Higgins); Marian Mercer (Nancy Beebe); Barrie Youngfellow (Jan Hoffmeyer Gray) and Paul Kreppel (Sonny Mann) lasted all the way through the show's network and syndicated runs. Ann Jillian (Cassie Cranston) appeared during the network run and the first year of syndication.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (May 2012)|
While the show was never a hit on network TV, its fortunes would later turn around in 1983, when all 27 episodes went to syndication. The series began to attract a following along with surprising ratings for the reruns, which prompted the producers and Golden West Television to bring the series back. Another factor in its sudden rediscovery was Ann Jillian's public disclosure that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1984, the same year as the announcement to bring the show back.
In 1985, the show was revived under its old name for the syndicated market. Most of the cast remained intact from the former version. A new waitress, Amy Tompkins (Crystal Bernard), arrived at the restaurant and was immediately accepted by the group. When Jillian decided to leave the show in 1986 (she had agreed to do only one season in syndication; plus, she wanted to continue her treatments for breast cancer), her character was replaced by Ginger St. James (Sheryl Lee Ralph). With these core cast members in place, the show continued to produce episodes for syndication until it ended in 1989.
From 2000 to 2001, TV Land aired the series occasionally for special programming blocks. It joined TV Land's weekly schedule on Monday, January 1, 2001 and back-to-back episodes aired as part of the Twice as Nice programming block. TV Land pulled the series after one week and left the cable network after its airing on Friday, January 5, 2001. TV Land got through the first 10 episodes and has never aired the series since.
The show's two broadcast seasons produced 27 episodes. An additional 93 episodes were produced for the syndication run, making a total of 120 episodes.
- Crystal Bernard as Amy Tompkins (1985–1989)
- Earl Boen as Dennis Hubner (1981–1982)
- Gail Edwards as Dot Higgins (1980–1982, 1985–1989)
- Ann Jillian as Cassie Cranston (1980–1982, 1985–1986)
- Paul Kreppel as Sonny Mann, né Manischewitz (1980–1982, 1985–1989)
- Louise Lasser as Maggie McBurney (1981–1982)
- Marian Mercer as Nancy Beebe (1980–1982, 1985–1989)
- Sheryl Lee Ralph as Ginger St. James (1986–1989)
- Bert Remsen as Mario (1980–1981)
- Wendy Schaal as Vicki Allen (1980–1981)
- Richard Stahl as Howard Miller (1985–1989)
- Susan Sullivan as Lois Adams (1980–1981)
- Barrie Youngfellow as Jan Hoffmeyer (later Gray) (1980–1982, 1985–1989)