Power suits. Shoulder pads. Catfights. Nobody did the ’80s prime-time soap better than the series that put the nasty in “Dynasty.” Now the Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family” is bringing together members of the Carrington clan with the latest in their vintage TV reunion specials, coming up Monday, Jan. 26.
The recent “Knots Landing” reunion show “went over so well, three days after it aired, the producers told me next we were going to do ‘Dynasty,'” says “Home & Family” co-host Cristina Ferrare.
Pamela Sue Martin, John James, Al Corley and Gordon Thomson are among the names you can expect to see. And you never know who might Skype in — as Alec Baldwin did for the “Knots Landing” show.
It’s a blast from the past to Cristina — and not just because she herself used to wear fabulous “Dynasty”-worthy Nolan Miller gowns. Recall that her husband, Tony Thomopoulos, was the head of ABC back when “Dynasty” ruled the airwaves. Tony and his Max Factor supermodel cum TV hostess bride, Cristina, were one of Hollywood’s dazzling power couples. She’d meet the casts of his shows at various industry events, “do the wife thing, say ‘Hello’ and be gracious,” she recalls. Also, having been co-host of the popular “AM Los Angeles” for four years, Cristina met pretty much every show business luminary out to tout their latest projects.
For the Cleveland born-and-raised Cristina, it was a dream come true. “I was like a little girl caught up in this amazing fantasy — sitting with people like Jimmy Stewart and Lucille Ball.”
She notes, “The whole town was so different then.”
Indeed, things were quite different in the four-network universe, when everyone was watching the same shows, before the fragmentation of TV into dozens of outlets and hundreds of viewing choices. “Home & Family” remains a bastion of show business of, well, a homier and more family style than much of television now.
“That’s what makes us so unique — no make believe ‘reality,’ no shock value. We have real life problems and humor,” says Ferrare, who is in her third season of the show co-hosted by Mark Steines. “We cook and play games. We shoot the show in a real house.”
Their house is in the middle of the Universal Studios Hollywood lot, but hey, it’s still real — which is a bit like Cristina herself. Much as she is part of the show business milieu, she remains relatable to her admiring audience, coming off as down-to-earth, charming and warm — the neighbor everyone would like to have.
She and Tony have now been together 31 years. The former network honcho currently has projects in the works at Sony Television and with the BBC. “He loves producing,” she says.
What’s their secret to a long-lasting marriage in (of all places) Hollywood?
“A sense of humor,” she answers. “We argue — but we argue laughing. We are each other’s best friend.
“And our family — our kids are everything to us. We have seven children — two from my first marriage, three from his, and our two together. Everyone gets along with everyone. It’s always family, family, family.”
And food, naturally, considering Cristina’s culinary gifts. “Home & Family” viewers have seen daughters Arianna and Alex whipping up delectable items along with their mother. Alex has been pursuing cooking and comedy, in fact, and Cristina says she may just have her own show one of these days. “She’s really funny.”