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One should not be accused of making slurring remarks if one observes that former Cheers and Veronica's Closet star Kirstie Alley played the title character in the satirical "reality" series Fat Actress. In point of fact, this largely improvised and unscripted half-hour series was created by Alley (in concert with Brenda Hampton of 7th Heaven fame), and it was she who came up with the title. The actress was seen as "herself," a former TV favorite whose popularity and job prospects diminished as her weight increased. Although she was outraged by Hollywood's double standard, which dictated that a male star can put on the pounds without losing work, while a female star is judged merely by the svelteness of her appearance, Alley was determined to put her career back on track, and to go to any lengths to convince people that she was the same Kirstie Alley as before, only more so. Of course, she also worked herself to a frazzle to burn off the excess weight that had caused her dilemma in the first place. Like Larry David's similar Curb Your Enthusiasm, Fat Actress featured a number of celebrities in cameo roles (usually mocking themselves in the same manner as the leading lady), and was also a veritable cornucopia of "inside" showbiz jargon. Viewers and critics were strongly divided about the series' merits, usually along the old "you love it or you hate it" lines, but one could not fault the star for valiantly poking fun at herself and her career and personal setbacks in a manner that totally charmed and disarmed all those who might have been inclined to dislike her personally simply on the basis of her "overindulgent" reputation. Fat Actress made its Showtime cable network debut on March 7, 2005. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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