Look, I watched a lot of Newsradio, it’s true, and of course she’s here because of her stint on ER. However, okay, yes. The first place I think of her is the time she was on Celebrity Poker Showdown and Dave Foley referred to her as “my ex-fake girlfriend.” She turns out to be quite the poker player, come to that. I don’t know if she could make a living at it, but she did win $100,000 for a pregnancy prevention program. (The Children’s Aid Society’s Carrera Pregnancy Prevention Program, which uses evidence-based sex education to prevent pregnancy in teenage girls.) She beat Michael Ian Black, who actually made it to the finals twice.
But, yes, there’s more to it than that. She started out on some incredibly low-level stuff. Her first TV appearance was in the awful-looking Student Exchange, sixth billed under Gavin MacLeod and Heather Graham—and two above O.J. Simpson. Four years later, she was thirteenth billed under such wild people as David Bowie and Andre Gregory in The Linguini Incident. She spent ten episode on The Van Dyke Show, starring Dick Van Dyke and one of his sons. She was also on the short-lived All in the Family sequel 704 Hauser.
That could’ve been her entire career—things you’ve never heard of or heard of and then forgot. As I’ve discussed before, there are plenty of people who have that as their entire careers. The industry needs them, just as surely as it needs real stars. And she did work with some names in the years between 1987 and 1995. Honestly, I’m kind of impressed, and I’d be fascinated to hear her stories about those years. Does she have interesting stories about Jerry Orbach? Would Samuel L. Jackson remember her?
And then, yes, in 1995, she was cast as Lisa Miller. Unusually for a sitcom—a TV show in general—they didn’t “will-they-or-won’t-they” through the series with her and Dave Foley as Dave Nelson. There was a bit of where-are-they-this-week, I grant you, and also are-they-telling-people, but their sexual tension was not the whole of their character dynamic. She was a joy on the show, which was one of those shows that survived longer than you’d think while at the same time flirting with cancellation the whole time.
She hasn’t gone back to sitcoms because she thought it would be impossible to capture the magic of the show again. Quite probably she was right. So then she went on to ER and did almost twice as many episodes of that. She hasn’t done much of note, I think, since then, and that’s disappointing—because it means people aren’t taking full advantage of her talent. She can do comedy. She can do drama. And she can play a mean hand of poker.