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“a woman walks into a bar…” with multiple Emmy winner & kickass ‘Cheers’ waitress, Rhea Perlman

on 17/06/14 at 10:31 am

a woman walks into a bar..., Booze News

woman-barfinal2It’s been many moons since Rhea Perlman and I have crossed paths so I was delighted when she said she would meet up for a drink. I mean, she practically lived in a bar, right?! Well, it was a tv bar but after eleven years of waitressing as Carla Tortelli in Cheers, you might be excused for thinking she lived there. Rhea, as Carla, was the definitive wise-ass, one might even say misanthropic, waitress cum barmaid, whose character was so real and loved that Rhea was nominated for an Emmy every year the show was on except for one when someone was asleep at the wheel.index

It’s interesting when you know a celebrity outside of their celebrity. That IMDb frame of reference doesn’t mean so much. Rhea lived up the street with her husband, Danny DeVito, and her kids who went to the same school as my kids. Parents and neighbors. You know, normal. Except that they had enormously successful television shows beamed worldwide.

Where to meet? Rhea’s not a ‘drinker’…she sticks to wine and a glass at a time at that. No judgement!!! We meet at Venice Beach Wines, a little sidewalk wine bar tucked between the newly sprung restaurants on Rose Avenue. “Wow, Rhea, it’s good to see you! It’s been a while!” Rhea looks great. She’s a living embodiment of how a yoga practice can keep you young, fit and fabulous. Our first order of business is ordering a glass of wine, a Plumpjack Cabernet Adaptation for Rhea and a little Spanish number, Albillo Yunquera for me. Both lovely.

While Rhea’s an avid yogini, lately she’s been exploring other forms of ‘getting your shit together’ and went on a silent meditation retreat for six days. She bypassed the ten day option as being too daunting for the first time. A silent retreat, by the way, is the exact opposite of being at a bar, right? Bars engender chitchat whereas at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, silence is golden. But she made it through and continues her exploration of mindful awareness with a private teacher at Insight LA. One of the benefits, she says, is that it helps her be less reactive. Mindfulness is certainly something we could all use.

As a booze blogger, I have to ask about Cheers, of course, which is still in reruns everywhere in the universe and, of course, on Netflix. Rhea is still friendly with most of the cast members – George Wendt, Ted Danson, John Ratzenberger, Woody Harrelson, Kirstie Alley. Wow, what a group…they should do a show called Old Friends! Until then, Rhea is on Kirstie Alley’s new sitcom, creatively named, Kirstie. You can watch Rhea act her magic on last season’s episodes online while we await news about Kirstie’s second season.

But back to Cheers.

On Taxi, which Rhea was also on, everyone in the cast was single while on Cheers, everyone was married and having kids at about the same time. And Rhea was pregnant, for real, three times during the show. “Do you ever watch your old shows?” “I watch the show because I want to find out what’s gonna happen!” Love it! Rhea was in every one of the 275 episodes over eleven years. Would you remember?!

Since Cheers was about a bar, I ask if there was ever a little ‘schnapps’ on the set. “No, no drinking on the set. That wasn’t real beer, of course, coming out of the taps. But, after shooting the show…I don’t know how this became a ‘thing’ but we would ask craft services for Irish coffee!” Not sure what I was expecting but an interesting and rather unexpected choice.

We chat about what it’s like to practically live on a tv set for so long. “When you’re on a tv show for eleven years with pretty much the same people day in and day out, the intensity is like being in a real family.” And the difference when you’re on a movie set, “…’family’ and familiarity can be intense for the length of the shoot and then it’s buh bye with ‘fast friends’ falling by the wayside until the next movie and new ‘family’.”  In 2012, the Cheers family came together for their 30th reunion and they’re still friends! Wow, has it been thirty years since the beginning of Cheers? Yes, indeed. I’ll need an Irish coffee to digest that fast flying 30 years.

Rhea actively supports this wonderful organization, Children’s Action Network which enlists the power of the entertainment community to raise awareness about children’s issues, especially kids in the foster care system. Go to their website and check out the videos of the beautiful children looking for a family to call their own. See if you can help.

The sun has gone down, our wine and cheese plate long gone and so it’s time for a wrap. Our chat about being more mindful definitely strikes a chord. I will try and incorporate it more fully and not just when I’m thinking about what bar to go to. If Cheers were real, I’d be there in a minute. Wouldn’t you?! We look around Venice Beach Wines one more time and Rhea buys a couple of bottles before we walk out to bustling Rose Avenue suddenly abuzz with diners and drinkers. I walk her to her car and we bid a cheery goodnight. “Let’s keep in touch!” “Would love to…enjoy the wine…”

529 Rose Avenue
Venice Beach CA  90291