Thursday, November 29, 2018



Most Americans, about 89%, say they believe in God, and some have felt God's presence while listening to a sermon or sensed time stand still while they were in deep prayer or meditation.
Now, a new study shows through functional MRI scans that such religious and spiritual experiences can be rewarding to your brain.
    They activate the same reward systems between your ears as do feelings of love, being moved by music and even doing drugs, according to the study, which was published in the journal Social Neuroscience on Tuesday.
    "These are areas of the brain that seem like they should be involved in religious and spiritual experience. But yet, religious neuroscience is such a young field -- and there are very few studies -- and ours was the first study that showed activation of the nucleus accumbens, an area of the brain that processes reward," said Dr. Jeffrey Anderson, a neuroradiologist at the University of Utah and lead author of the study.
    "Billions of people make important decisions in life based on spiritual and religious feelings and experiences. It's one of the most powerful influences on our social behavior," he said. "Yet we know so little about what actually happens in the brain during these experiences. It's just a critical question that needs more study."

    Mulling over Mormon MRIs

    For the study, 19 devout young adult Mormons had their brains scanned in fMRI machines while they completed various tasks. 
    The tasks included resting for six minutes, watching a six-minute church announcement about membership and financial reports, reading quotations from religious leaders for eight minutes, engaging in prayer for six minutes, reading scripture for eight minutes, and watching videos of religious speeches, renderings of biblical scenes and church member testimonials.
    Pastor Joel Osteen on the power of prayer
    Pastor Joel Osteen on the power of prayer 01:44
    During the tasks, participants were asked to indicate when they were experiencing spiritual feelings.
    As the researchers analyzed the fMRI scans taken of the participants, they took a close look at the degree of spiritual feelings each person reported and then which brain regions were simultaneously activated.
    The researchers found that certain brain regions consistently lit up when the participants reported spiritual feelings. 
    The brain regions included the nucleus accumbens, which is associated with reward; frontal attentional, which is associated with focused attention; and ventromedial prefrontal cortical loci, associated with moral reasoning, Anderson said.
    Spiritual feelings trigger a reward circuit in the brain, as shown in this MRI. Courtesy of the University of Utah Health Sciences
    "I appreciated how they went about trying to ascertain the degree of spiritual experience that a person has. Of course, there is always a subjective component to it, but they seemed to capture it relatively well," said Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neurotheologian and professor of emergency medicine and radiology at Thomas Jefferson University who was not involved in the study.
    He added that the new study further supports previous research that has associated spiritual and religious experiences with complex neural networks.
    "It is also interesting to see the changes occurring in the frontal attentional areas and the nucleus accumbens. These are actually areas we have hypothesized to be involved in religious practices and experiences over 10 years ago," Newberg said. "It also corroborates our prior studies of various prayer and meditation practices that found changes in the attentional areas of the brain and also the striatum," a part of the brain associated with the reward system.
    Since the study results were seen only in Mormons, Anderson said, more research is needed to determine whether similar findings could be replicated in people of other faiths, such as Catholics or Muslims.
    "I think that it's still an open question, to what extent there is a common network of brain regions that is active across faith traditions and types of experiences. We expect that there are differences," he said. "In other words, does it feel the same way in the same regions of the brain for a Lutheran woman in Minnesota studying the Bible as for someone in Syria contemplating religiously motivated violence?"
    More research is also needed to determine the potential health benefits of such experiences, Anderson said.
    The scientific literature on health-related effects of spiritual experiences is growing, said Newberg, who wrote the book "How God Changes Your Brain."
    "Generally, religious and spiritual beliefs and practices reduce depression, stress and anxiety and provide people a sense of meaning and purpose," he said.
    "Additionally, it is also important to understand the potential negative consequences," he said. "For example, would this study yield similar or different results if the subjects were members of ISIS and provided religious quotes and videos supporting those beliefs? That could be a fascinating study."

    'This is one of the things that make us human'

    Reward systems in the brain might activate during religious or spiritual experiences in part because they reinforce whatever faith-based beliefs you may have, said Jordan Grafman, director of brain injury research at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and a professor at Northwestern University.
    "Reinforcing your beliefs makes you feel a little bit better and secure," said Grafman, who was not involved in the new study. 
    Join the conversation
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    He added that studying religious beliefs can reveal a lot about the human brain.
    "Well, this is one of the things that make us human, right?" Grafman asked. 
    "There are not too many other species, as far as we know about, that have a religion," he said. "If you're simply interested in what distinguishes us as creatures, this is a great example, and that's why it's important to study the brain basis, not only of how religion affects the brain, but the brain basis of religious beliefs and how that corresponds to other kinds of cognitive processes."


    Lydia Cornell of TV's "Too Close For Comfort" was a returning guest on 89.1 WFDU fm's "The Vintage Rock & Pop Shop" hosted by Ghosty. Topics discussed include her time working at Caribou Ranch recording studios, auditioning for Too Close For Comfort, working for Jack Webb and much more!

    Monday, November 26, 2018

    Sara, Monroe and Jackie ~ Lydia Cornell, Jim j. Bullock, Deborah Van Valkenburgh

    "Too Close for Comfort's"  Sara, Monroe and Jackie! Together again...

    Friday, June 01, 2018


    Quote of the Day: “If there isn't deep integrity and fundamental character strength, the challenges of life will cause true motives to surface and human relationship failure will replace short-term success." —Stephen R. Covey

    One of the most inspiring stories of the decade: 'Good Samaritan' saves crying woman's foreclosed home (from But first some infuriating things my husband said that weren't so funny while they were happening...

    Spiritual architecture

    My husband and I went to a sports bar to watch the last Packer game of the season on Sunday. We had so much fun — but we have the goofiest relationship. Paul hates it when I use big words; he always wants me to act like a dumb blonde. So when the waitress came over to take our order I happened to be telling him an idea for a chapter in my book called "Spiritual Architecture" he got really embarrassed and told me to please not use intelligent words like that. "It might make the waitress uncomfortable," he said.

    WTF?? Was he implying the waitress was stupid? No. What he meant was that he wanted me to fit into the Neanderthal crowd. Usually I have to use very pornographic language just to get his attention.

    When we fight, we are talking to each other's wounds...not to each other. We fight over who’s being nicer. We strangle each other over who is doing the Golden Rule better. This reminds me of my favorite line from Dr. Strangelove: “You can’t fight in here, this is the War Room!”

    By the way, when I first met my husband I was shocked at how much TV he watched. And it was always some celebrity tabloid show featuring the flavor of the month. I asked him, “Don’t you think we’re too obsessed with celebrities in this culture? He just stared at the TV and said, “No, it’s educational.”

    My big question is, why am I experiencing life with this particular person? Oh yeah, according to Bob Lancer -- the purpose of marriage is to learn compassion!

    So I asked him, “Tell me how, how is it educational to learn how many belly-button rings or mansions Britney Spears has? I think this is making us a nation of covetous, jealous, greedy, panicky zombies.”

    He wouldn't answer. He was zoned out staring at the TV, and didn't hear me.

    Over Christmas, my sister and I were going through all our old record albums, LPs. I have all the original Beatles, Jethro Tull ('Benefit' is the best, especially the song 'Sossity!') Led Zeppelin, Moody Blues, ELP, The Band, Zephyr, Fleetwood Mac ('Mystery to Me' - my favorite before Buckingham-Nicks came along...) We were reminiscing about how much fun it was to put the needle into the groove of the record, even if it would scratch the record. There was something so solid about “playing a record” on an actual turntable.

    I began to think about the way we are becoming less material and more digital. Doing away with cumbersome record players, cassettes, and even CDs. We are becoming "thought" -- one mind. We are able to communicate and almost think directly to each other over computer signals and “text” messages – which is like grabbing words out of thin air.

    Think of the invisible notes of music or the invisible numbers of mathematics. There is a divine harmony underlying everything. Everything is beauty and harmony. The physical picture is not the real story. Kind of like the inner software in a computer — the substance, the meat. Everything else is just temporary packaging. What's real is what's inside. The invisible.

    Speaking of music, our kids blew our minds on New Years Eve. We took them to a party and they sat down at the piano and played the entire night. Each separately - Kevin, 13 played Cold Play and Muse. Jack, who is 14, played songs from the new Jack's Mannequin album (his favorite band) plus The Pink Panther, Sting and lots of other stuff. Jack wants guitar lessons too. A couple of years ago, I couldn't get them to even consider piano lessons. Now they each have a Yamaha in their rooms and they compose music everyday! You can plug in your laptop and compose as it creates sheet music.

    My father was a violinist, my sister is a composer who wrote a new theme song for Extreme Home Makeover (and a major Gospel Choir is singing her composition!!) and my younger brother, who died a few years ago, was a prodigy with perfect pitch.
    New Year's Resolutions
    In 2009 I am going to try to be less sensitive. I am so sensitive I feel sorry for that little depressed egg bobbing around in the “Depression” commercial…

    I am so sensitive, I cried at the violence in the James Bond movie and then jumped out of the car when my husband said I had “too much compassion." My son Kevin was upset that I reminded him to have a conscience after the movie – that I made him less numb to violence. In other words, I ruined his high... and therefore it’s a bad thing! …???
    Jim Bullock put his face on my body when we were signing autographs. Fans actually bought this one: (Jimmy: Sorry you missed our Christmas party and we couldn't make it to your play in KC!)
    Epiphany: I woke up on December 1, 2008 out of the ether and realized I was depressed. Usually I light a candle on this sad day, but I had even forgotten to call my mother — as it is the anniversary of my brother's death. I picked up Eckhardt Tolle's bestseller "A New Earth: Awakening to your Life's Purpose" and randomly turned to a page at the back, which said that the only times we are unhappy are when we are looking backward or forward — in other words, when we are not living in the present moment: RIGHT NOW. Right now, nothing bad is happening. It is only when we live in the past and future that we feel pain.

    The book said that we must wake up and fully enjoy the present moment - be fully conscious and look at the joy we can create by being grateful for the tiniest thing. We must also see what we can do for others, for "Only a life lived for others is worth living." I realized I had two kids in the house who needed me -- and one in particular was in a lot of pain, hobbling around after his bone surgery, with his foot bent in a crooked position. He needed me to be in good spirits, to really care about him (which I always do, but sometimes I am focused on my own deadlines and projects and fear -- that I forget to "feel his pain." So I got up and made his breakfast with so much love. Then I made his lunch and put a note in it. Then I got his shoes and rubbed his feet with Tiger Balm. Then I offered to drive him to school. He was so grateful that I lifted his burdens for the morning. My whole world changed from this simple committtment to "stay in the present moment" and stay out of my head (it's a bad neighborhood.) Stay out of worry and fear -- for they are not real and do not exist. Only the GOOD is real.

    God Bless sweet Jett. As everyone knows by now, John Travolta's 16-year-old son Jett passed on Friday. Please hold the Travolta family in your prayers. Personally I am devasted by Jett's death. 
Having fledgling teenage boys myself (13 and 14) — I've been crying intermittently and praying every time I think of Kelly and John and Ella Blue.
    Back from vacation! HAPPY 2009!! May you have a year filled with LOVE, joy, peace, health, wealth, happiness and success!  And remember to be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle. 

    Here is the first pic taken with my "new" iPhone (Remember the iPhone I stood in line for 5 hours to buy for my son, the very first iPhone ever made? My son finally gave it to me for Christmas, since he got a new one. Photo: Hubby and me at our kid's friend Leo's Barmitzvah, Saturday January 3, 2009

    This month we will be celebrating 2009 and posting our favorite pics from 2008. I will also post "Ways to Be Happy No Matter What your Circumstances... whether in poverty or riches; whether feeling depressed, drinking too much or feeling hopeless. There are concrete ways to turn your entire life around and to be really happy. It starts with simply not thinking about yesterday or tomorrow. Right now, close off all thoughts of regret or future fear. Look around at what you have. See what you can do to make someone else happy right now. If no one is around you, make yourself happy. You can choose to feel good right now. The Buddhists say "Chop wood, carry water." Whatever you are doing, make it an art form, even if it is "chopping the wood to light the fire to make tea." Every moment is a holy moment. You are alive. This is a gift. Happy New Year!!
    We are scheduling some great guests this month, in time for Obama's inauguration! Richard Belzer, Larry Charles, Dr. Linda Durre, possibly Hillary and Bill Clinton(!) David Sedaris, Anne Lamott... If you live in Vegas you can tune in Live or go to our website and listen in the audio archives. 

    The Basham and Cornell Show broadcasts weekday mornings at 8 am Pacific (11 a.m. Eastern) on KLAV 1230 AM Radio live in Las Vegas. Again, all shows are simulcast worldwide on the Internet (and archived) and can be listened to at Basham and Cornell Radio

    If you've missed our show, check out the audio archives for MP3 podcasts. Recent guests include: Senator Tom Daschle (Obama's Secretary of Health); CNN's Paul Begala (Former Senior Clinton advisor), Pat Buchanan (Former Reagan Advisor), John Edwards, Elizabeth Edwards, Pulitzer Prize winner Charlie Savage,CNN Crossfire's Bill Press, John Dean, Valerie Plame, NBC Bureau Chief in Tel Aviv Martin Fletcher, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Elizabeth Kucinich; Rep. Robert Wexler, Rep. Charlie Rangel, Salon's Max Blumenthal, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Rep. Patrick Murphy, Senator Byron Dorgan, Mike Gravel; Elizabeth Kucinich, Christine Pelosi, Bestselling authors Valerie Bertinelli, Naomi Klein, Paul Krugman, Christopher Cerf, Stefan Forbes,Vincent Bugliosi, etc.

    "I’m going to stop analyzing and worrying about my problems and see what happens," Lexy said to her abusive therapist Zoe.
    "Are you crazy? You have to analyze your problems or they might go away!” said Zoe.
    “Exactly!!" exclaimed Lexy.
    - Dialogue from my film "Venus Conspiracy

    I am so proud of my sister! Her "EXTREME MAKEOVER: HOME EDITION" aired last night on ABC-TV. The episode featured a gospel song my sister Kathryn wrote especially for this episode, performed by the Mt. Ararat Gospel Choir of Pittsburgh as the home was being demolished to be rebuilt. The song is called "LET THESE WALLS COME TUMBLING DOWN".

    My sister is a brilliant composer and has 4 albums out. She was a founding member of the cult band "Two Nice Girls" (there were three girls in the group -- guess only 2 of them were nice!) on Rough Trade Records (Lucinda Williams' label) and was discovered at Austin's South by Southwest Conference. She also played on an album called "Guitarrorists." She also wrote the music to FOX Morning Show. She is "extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to write for Extreme Home Makeover!" Thank you, Jen Lane (series director)!"
    ______________________ _______________________________

    'Good Samaritan' saves crying woman's foreclosed home
    Stranger buys foreclosed home for woman on hard times
    "If it was you, you'd want somebody to stop and help you," says Marilyn Mock
    Mock bought home for $30,000; says she'll work out payment deal with Tracy Orr
    Orr says Mock's generosity has "given me back faith and hope to keep going"

    (CNN) -- Tracy Orr sat in the back of the room and prepared to watch her foreclosed home go up for auction this past Saturday. That's when a pesky stranger sat down beside her and struck up a conversation.

    Tracy Orr faced losing her home to foreclosure when Marilyn Mock, a stranger, stepped in to buy it.

    "Are you here to buy a house?" Marilyn Mock said.

    Orr couldn't hold it in. The tears flowed. She pointed to the auction brochure at a home that didn't have a picture. "That's my house," she said.

    Within moments, the four-bedroom, two-bath home in Pottsboro, Texas, went up for sale. People up front began casting their bids. The home that Orr purchased in September 2004 was slipping away.

    She stood and moved toward the crowd. Behind her, Mock got into the action.

    "She didn't know I was doing it," Mock says. "I just kept asking her if [her home] was worth it, and she just kept crying. She probably thought I was crazy, 'Why does this woman keep asking me that?

    Mock says she bought the home for about $30,000. That's when Mock did what most bidders at a foreclosure auction never do. "When it was all done, I was just in shock."

    "All this happened within like 5 minutes. She never even asked me my name. She didn't ask me my financial situation. She had no idea what [the house] looked like. She just did it out of the graciousness of her heart, just a 'Good Samaritan,' " Orr says. "It's amazing."

    Why be so generous? "She was just so sad. You put yourself in their situation and you realize you just got to do something," says Mock, who says she has trouble walking by homeless people on the street and not helping them out.

    "If it was you, you'd want somebody to stop and help you."

    Orr, who nearly lost her home, says her newfound friend has "given me back faith and hope to keep going and hold my head up. Things happen for a reason," Orr says.
    (
    Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” Dr. Seuss

    Tuesday, May 22, 2018

    Lydia Cornell Too Close for Comfort Interview ~ SitComs Online

    We have a very exciting interview for you today. We have an interview with Lydia of the stars on the '80s sitcom Too Close for Comfort and now she is on the radio dial on her talk show Basham and Cornell Radio Live. Catch Too Close for Comfort tonight at 8pm ET/5pm PT on WGN America! As always with our interviews, it is in Seven Questions form!

    We had the pleasure to interview Lydia Cornell - actress, writer, author, producer and radio host. Is there anything this woman can't do? She co-starred as Ted Knight's daughter in the role of Sara Rush on the ABC television situation comedy Too Close for Comfort, where she won a People's Choice Award, and most recently appeared on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm. Cornell was a Best Actress nominee at Method Fest, which honors outstanding acting performances, for her leading role in the AFI indie Miss Supreme Queen.

    We thank Lydia for taking the time to answer some of the most interesting questions we have for her...and her responses were so amazing that we gave her more space on our blog at the end in "Lydia Unleashed." So it is time for another installment of SitcomsOnline's Seven Questions Series! We seriously STILL need a jingle. Any takers out there? How about a Too Close for Comfort style jingle?

    "Seven Questions with Lydia Cornell"
    Lydia in 2008 Lydia in 1980
    SitcomsOnline: We thank you for your time and it is an honor to speak with you! You are of course most remembered by TV fans for your role as Sara Rush, the sexy & beautiful daughter of Ted Knight's Henry Rush on the ABC sitcom Too Close for Comfort. Can you share with us how you got the role?

    Lydia Cornell: Thank you! It's great to speak with you, too. I really love SitcomsOnline. My audition for Too Close for Comfort was a comedy of errors. I was half an hour late; it had been raining, I had taken the wrong bus -- and by the time I got there the producers were ready to go home. They had seen 400 girls already for the part of Sara Rush (formerly called "Susan") and they were burned out. I was literally the last girl they saw.
    When I walked into the office, the casting director told me I was too late -- that they had already picked four girls for the final callback the next day at the network. I was on the verge of tears when the producer Arne Sultan, came out, took one look at me and said, "What the hell, let her read!" He must have felt sorry for me -- bedraggled, soaking wet. I followed him into an office where there were two other executive producers, one of whom introduced himself as Tom Werner of ABC.

    At the end of my reading, there was a direction in the script that said: "Sara gives dad a raspberry." So I picked up an imaginary raspberry and thrust it at Mr. Sultan who was reading lines with me. He looked at me like I was from outer space and said, "What the f--- are you handing me? What the hell is this?" I said, "It's a raspberry. I'm giving you a raspberry like it says in the script." He started cracking up, "Where are you from -- did you just fall off the turnip truck? Don't you know what a raspberry is in show business?" He proceeded to put his lips together, stick his tongue out and blow out the most obnoxious sound. "It's a Bronx cheer!" They all laughed and one of them said, "This girl is exactly what we're looking for. We want you to come into ABC tomorrow for the final callback."
    The next day I went to the network wearing a very sweet, virginal-looking flowered dress. All the other girls were in extremely tight T-shirts with their nipples showing. When the casting director called me into the room, I was awestruck to see Ted Knight sitting on the couch, along with several network executives. I hadn't been around Hollywood long enough to realize how scary this was standing in front of a firing squad. Imagine several characters like "Ari" from Entourage sitting there judging you. Ted got up, introduced himself and said "Let's read together, shall we?" I don't remember how I got the lines out, but there were huge laughs at each line I read, at the end there was a burst of applause. Arne Sultan said, "Will you please wait outside." A few minutes later they ushered me back in and said, "It's not protocol to tell an actor without telling her agent first, but we want you to know you got the part!"

    Lydia Reunited with the Cast of Too Close for Comfort
    SitcomsOnline: Wow, what a story that was! Do you have good memories from the show and do you have a few favorite episodes that you can share? It seems that the cast still gets together and has fun as we saw on the DVD special features?
    Lydia Cornell: I have great memories of the show and lots of hilarious ones. I used to have a crush on Jim Bullock and would go to work every day with butterflies in my stomach. (I heard it's okay to have butterflies in your stomach as long as they're flying in formation.) Laughter is my favorite drug and Jimmy made me laugh until I couldn't see straight. I was crushed when I found out he was gay, but then we became the best of friends.
    Not long ago, I guest-starred on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm with Seinfeld creator Larry David -- who made me laugh so hard I almost couldn't speak; he's a comic genius. So was Ted Knight, of course. He taught me wondrous things, like how to do a "spit-take" without drooling. It's similar to a double take, while holding a cup to your lips.
    Deborah and I were very close from day one. I met her at the network audition. She told me she had worked in New York City for a certain shipping company. It turned out she had worked for my dad -- although we lived in Holland at the time. We were both blown away when we discovered that she had been working with my dad via telex in Holland on a daily basis. Out of all the millions of people and jobs in New York City! Of course there are no coincidences.
    I recently wrote and produced a film called Venus Conspiracy with Deborah Van Valkenburgh starring as my abusive therapist sister. We got to finish fighting from the old days - with dialogue that was really juicy. Deb and I could not stop laughing; we have such great chemistry and she said the lines EXACTLY as I had imagined them. I want to make the feature film and a series based on this movie with both of us playing sisters again!
    Even though we had a love-hate relationship, I really miss Ted, who died of prostate cancer in the last year of our show. At Ted's funeral I sat on the first row and sobbed uncontrollably as Mary Tyler Moore spoke. And I also miss John Ritter, who used to pop his head in and make us laugh between rehearsals for the Three's Company spin-off, Three's a Crowd. And then there was the legendary Audrey Meadows who played my grandmother. She had starred as Jackie Gleason's wife Alice in The Honeymooners. It's hard to believe all these great comedic actors are gone.
    As for my favorite episodes, I love the one in which Jackie and Sara have a pizza fight. She scratches my records and I smear her dry cleaning with pizza. That was a great show because the we got to have several scenes without the grownups.
    We heard that it worried Ted that we had so many big scenes without him. The producers were afraid we were developing our own following, which might lead the network to develop a "Jackie and Sara" show someday. They used us to raise the ratings with younger viewers. From then on, they tried to marginalize our roles. That's when they came up with a baby for Ted and Nancy. They also beefed up Jim Bullock's role - so the girls were expendable. Monroe was the perfect foil to Henry Rush. I always think that Ted enjoyed having Jim as the "idiot punching bag" as he been the same kind of punching bag as bumbling newscaster Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. But I can't believe they didn't realize they could have built up a successful franchise with the Jackie and Sara characters.
    I like the episode with the live lion. Monroe and I are making a movie in our house and we bring in animals. The cookie episode where we start a cookie business is another goodie. The one where I get a job as a waitress and have to wear lamb chop underwear with ruffles is another favorite. I hold a pillow over my skirt to hide from Ted. The one where I am the weathergirl and can't get my states right. I love the part when I popped someone on the head with a lint brush. I also loved the episode where Sara tries out for the newscaster job and has to comment about Middle East peace talks by saying: "We could have a war on our hands if these peace talks don't get started. And that is only going to drive up the price of bagels and gasoline."
    And yes we do reunite often! Deb and I just went to the Too Close for Comfort reunion party hosted by Arne Sultan and Leonard Stern's long-time assistant Donna. Jim, Deb and I just got together for Jim's summer party in August. Pink Flamingos was the motif. He is as funny as ever. Just got an email from him -- he's in Kansas doing a play.

    SitcomsOnline: It is too bad that the show is not in syndication anymore (however, you can watch four episodes TONIGHT on WGN America from 8-10pm ET/5-7pm PT) and the DVDs were halted after just two seasons, any reason why? Have you heard any new rumblings on at least when we can expect the DVDs to continue? I think you told me before that you guys had shot the extras for the next set or two?
    Lydia Cornell: The truth is, I have no idea. It feels as if Don Taffner (DLT Entertainment) has deliberately stopped syndicating our show. It's from a more innocent time in history, which I think would be a nice change right now for younger kids. I mean Saved by the Bell is still on and it sure looks dated! I don't see why they won't syndicate our show on Nick at Nite or some other network.
    I heard that Rhino, the division of Warner Home Media that produced our DVDs, folded and was absorbed into the parent company. But I wish they'd release the rest of the DVDs. Another theory is this: Maybe the Ted Knight estate owns such a large percentage of the show that it isn't profitable for Don Taffner or any DVD company to produce it anyway. Maybe the profit split would be unprofitable for them. It's always about money.
    Deborah, Jim and I did commentary on Season 3 - which is my favorite season. It's odd that they didn't really promote our DVD release. But what I find odd is that Rhino was only interested in promoting Jim Bullock on all the postcards and giveaways. Deborah and I have been available to do PR and advertising. Here's what's going to happen: once my book comes out (more on this below in our "Lydia Unleashed" story), the movie is launched (Venus Conspiracy) and our show starts filming (based on the movie), Too Close for Comfort will come back.
    In May of 2008, Paramount/Viacom called us to do a Too Close For Comfort Reunion Show for Entertainment Tonight. But then they suddenly cancelled the reunion.

    Lydia with her Too Close for Comfort co-star Deborah Van Valkenburgh
    SitcomsOnline: Last question on Too Close for Comfort...what was the deal that you and Deborah Van Valkenburgh were written out of the show for the last season when Henry and Muriel moved out of San Francisco to a newspaper in Marin County and was retitled The Ted Knight Show? If Monroe (Jim Bullock) got to go, why not you and Deborah? Unfortunately, Ted Knight passed away at the end of that season, do you remember your last memories of Ted and what your thoughts are of him in general?
    Lydia Cornell: That was a horrible decision on the producers' part. First, Deb dropped out and didn't want to do a final year. She was always more interested in doing theater and darker roles. But I loved comedy and wanted to stay on. Then Arne Sultan died and new producers came on board whose sole purpose was to satisfy Ted - who had an ownership stake. Since the network never got to develop the Jackie and Sara characters, and our value had been diminished in the last couple of years - the new producers were simply resistant to upsetting Ted. And they didn't realize the value of the Sara character without Jackie. It was like willful ignorance. But to be honest, we had the hardest time ever feeling like they cared about "the girls" on that show. They were constantly trying to push us aside and make us feel expendable. I remember we had these amazing writers for one season - Jeff Reno and Ron Osbourne - who wrote great shows for Sara and Jackie. They were fired for being too talented! They went on to write and create Moonlighting. I have the greatest respect for writers. All the writers on the show were wonderful -- especially Earl Barret and Arne Sultan. Also we were honored to have the gifted and amazing duo of Rocky and Irma Kalish, they wrote Gilligan's Island, Bob Newhart, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis shows, Facts of Life, and tons of classic sitcoms. Irma was President of Writer's Guild America West and is one of the first women to become a producer of a TV show... a woman's activist. We also had Doug Arango and Phil Doran -- who had written All in the Family.
    The funny thing is, I would have done the show for free - but my managers at the time were negotiating my contract for more money. I cringed over this, begging them to stop. The producers were so mad they started playing games and wrote me out of one episode - the one with Cousin April and guest star Robert Mandan, who played Ted's brother.
    I think that once Arne died, Ted was free to design the show his way. Originally I was so hurt. I thought they decided to get rid of the girls because Ted Knight didn't particularly like us having any clout and a possible spin-off. Who knows? I have grown to forgive and love Ted, but I think the new producers made a mistake.

    SitcomsOnline: During and after your stint on Too Close for Comfort you had some memorable guest starring roles on series like The A-Team and Knight Rider for an episode. And my were you stunning on those shows (who could forget that blue outfit on The A-Team!)! How was it being a sex symbol in the '80s? And you still are a sex symbol!
    Lydia Cornell: Thank you so much! That is very sweet of you. I was so shy, it was difficult wearing those short-shorts and high heels. It's hard to be a woman in Hollywood unless you're lucky enough to thrive on humiliation. But laughing at myself and writing comedy kept me sane.
    I really loved doing action shows. I wish Steven J. Cannell and Don Bellisario would clone themselves, come back and do more of these. I also played a race car owner in the Duke of Hazzard 2-hour CBS movie.
    It's weird but David Hemmings, the iconic actor from films like Blow Up and Gladiator directed me in three action shows: A-Team, Hardball and the pilot for Quantum Leap. I was such a pushover I was talked into doing my own stunts on all these shows.
    On A-Team Hemmings talked me letting the helicopter come so close to my head it was frightening. He said I didn't need a stuntwoman. Quantum Leap was a wild experience. When I got the part, no one told me we'd be staying out in Lancaster at Edwards Airforce Base for two weeks (where we hung out with the Blue Angels and got a sneak peak at the Stealth Bomber) so all I brought was my toothbrush. When the Teamsters van picked me up at Universal Studios at 5 AM, I wondered why everyone else had so much luggage. When we got there they took me shopping at Target for pajamas and stuff. I had dark hair at the time, long chocolate-colored hair down my back. The first day of shooting, Don Bellisario comes in the makeup trailer and says: "I need all the women to have short hair. This takes place in the 1950's and women didn't have long hair." None of us could believe he didn't mention this earlier - and none of us wanted to cut our hair off. So the hairstylist searched all over Lancaster for a wig shop. We finally found a short dark wig, which I wore in the film.
    I also did Hunter -- where the director James Whitmore, Jr., talked me into doing my own stunts. I had to dive into icy Lake Malibu and swim up to the boat that Fred Dreyer and I would have our make-out scene on. What was really annoying was they forgot to put a ladder down so I could gracefully climb out of the water and into the boat. There was a camera on me from another boat, aimed right at my butt. As I swam up, my feet couldn't find any ladder so I got sucked under the boat, then had to grapple around, pull my body up and throw one leg onto the deck while wiggling on board - trying to appear attractive from behind! As I'm about to drown all I'm thinking about is how my ass looks!

    SitcomsOnline: It has been known that you had a drinking problem but it is so good to hear that you are now a recovering alcoholic and had your last drink in 1994. How did this affect you personally and in your career having this drinking problem?
    Lydia Cornell: I never drank when I was working (except during Christmas with David Hasselhoff when we were filming Knight Rider) but I had a few close calls on auditions. I actually fell down on top of a major director! Auditions made me so nervous.
    My book will describe the crash, burn and surrender - and how I got to the other side. I had a catastrophic spiritual awakening and haven't had a drink or a craving to drink since September 11, 1994 - when I walked into a women's recovery group meeting. You will not believe the amazing thing that happened to me that day. It's hard to talk about this because it appears to exist in the realm of the magical - but this gave me concrete, tangible evidence of a loving force in the universe. And now I've finally figured out the key to activating these miracles, which are really natural laws.
    I have now been sober for 14 years - the same age as my son. When I say sober, I mean "spiritually whole" in a way you cannot be when you try to just quit drinking by "white-knuckling" it, so to speak. The amazing thing is the gift of helping others stay sober too. We are all plagued by the "fame" drug.
    It has been the best thing that ever happened to me. Now I am grateful for each day - and though the demons come back at times, I now have an unshakable higher power to lean on - the guiding principle of the universe.
    I've never publicly spoken about this to anyone outside of recovery circles, but I've often stopped to wonder 'how did these seemingly miraculous events happen?' There was one common element: surrender. When I gave up fighting, the outside picture totally changed. But what is the metaphysics of surrender? How did an inner change affect an outer result? As Einstein said, "No problem can be solved at the same level it was created on." You can't fight fire with fire; you can't cure alcoholism with more alcohol or drugs - you have to go to a spiritual or diplomatic solution. Or as George Carlin put it, "Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity."

    Basham and Cornell Radio Live
    SitcomsOnline: Finally, I must say you have become very successful in your new career! The radio show Basham and Cornell Radio Live in Las Vegas is a success and shows off how smart you really are. It is big in Las Vegas and also nationwide on the Internet at How did you get involved with politics and this radio program? Do you see yourself doing this for the rest of your life and do you still plan on acting from time to time? And to everyone, Lydia has her own website and blog as well at and also has written a novel, if you can share a bit on those as well.
    Lydia Cornell: Thank you! Our show is amazing. We hope to have Richard Belzer on next week and Larry Charles soon. He directed Borat, Religulous and lots of Seinfeld episodes. Recent guests on our show include: CNN's Paul Begala, (Senior Clinton Advisor); MSNBC's Pat Buchanan (Former Reagan advisor) John Dean, Pulitzer Prize winner Charlie Savage, Senator Tom Daschle, Bill Press, NBC Bureau Chief in Tel Aviv Martin Fletcher, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, John & Elizabeth Edwards, Rep. Dennis & Elizabeth Kucinich, Congressman Charlie Rangel,Valerie Plame, Vincent Bugliosi, Christine Pelosi, Senator Mike Gravel; Senator Byron Dorgan; bestselling authors, celebrities and more.
    Yes, I will continue to act! I was just up for a couple of roles on Entourage. I am writing a trilogy of funny books, a TV series and the big movie version of Venus Conspiracy. Like My Big Fat Greek Wedding's Nia Vardalos, I plan to play a role in this.
    I also do standup and am co-starring in a new comedy show I wrote with Stephanie Hodge (Unhappily Ever After, Nurses) and Destiny (The Tonight Show, VH-1, MTV) called Pain is Inevitable, Sex Optional” We had our first stage show on Saturday night and it was great!
    The novel is an historical thriller called The Sylvia Plan which has taken me several lifetimes to finish. It is about the Trotsky assassination, the Spanish Civil War and a love triangle. Right now it's on the back burner, but will definitely be out after the other books are published.

    Our thanks to Lydia Cornell for her time and this opportunity. You can listen to her every weekday morning on Basham and Cornell Radio Live at 8am PT on KLAV or nationwide on, and check out Lydia's own website and blog at
    And don't forget to watch Too Close for Comfort tonight on WGN America from 8-10pm ET (5-7pm PT). If you've never watched it, you are in for a treat...good writing, good comedy, and Lydia Cornell. Enough said! Stay tuned right here on the blog for continued news on Lydia and Too Close for Comfort!

    Holy continuation, Batman! Lydia Cornell is not done yet! We have more from Lydia as she was very nice enough to share more stories and insight. So we're calling this "Lydia Unleashed." She is sharing some stories for the first time ever, so you will want to read more from Lydia! Holy exclusives! Time to get unleashed with Lydia Cornell. That is good thing! Unleash the hounds!

    Lydia Cornell Unleashed
    Lydia in Jeans!

    Lydia on her relationship with Ted Knight...
    I had grown up watching Ted Knight on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and I was star-struck by him. He was a comedy legend and I was blessed to have learned the ropes from him. But Ted was hostile toward me and I didn't know why at the time. During our dialogue scenes I was afraid to look him in the eyes, so I'd look at his forehead. He'd stand on his toes to get into my line of vision. I was so nervous I'd fidget and one time I scratched my nose on his punch line. He would yell to the director's booth, "Why is she moving on my line!" They had to stop taping. From then on whenever anybody spoke, I froze. The director became upset that I was too stiff and Ted started a rumor that they were going to replace me with a prop. The National Enquirer sent spies to the set. One time Ted was yelling that I was late to the set, but the truth was that Violet, our wonderful wardrobe designer, was trying to button the pearl buttons on my blouse and it was taking too long. In the tabloids the next week I was accused of holding up production on the set because I was "primping" when I was actually crying while she was buttoning me up!
    I have a really funny Merv Griffin story when the whole cast was on his show. Deborah and I were so nervous being on our first talk show we got into a lot of trouble. Deb blurted out a weird secret about Ted and Merv exploded with his lascivious laugh, warning: "Stay tuned and we'll find out what Deborah means when Lydia Cornell, the youngest member of the Rush family comes out!" Then I came out and made it worse! Ted's jaw dropped open in horror and they had to stop taping. Sorry but you'll have to wait another day for the conclusion of this...

    Lydia on going to Beirut on a USO tour...
    Audrey Meadows is the one who convinced me to go to Beirut, Lebanon on a USO tour with Johnny Grant, the Mayor of Hollywood, during Christmas 1982. Bob Hope had eye trouble that year. This was the most amazing experience - flying into a war zone, being picked up by paratroopers during a blackout, driving through mine fields during a blackout, being choppered onto aircraft carriers and staying above the bombed out remains of the Beirut Carlton. I met Capt. Dale Dye and sang Christmas carols with all the sailors and Marines.
    After we left the Middle East, a suicide bomber drove a truck into the Marine barracks and blew up 251 of the best and brightest of the 24th MAU. I received letters from the sons of these soldiers, and years later I got a letter that broke my heart. It was from a 13-year-old boy who had been a toddler when his dad died, and the boy himself was now dying of cancer. He thought I might have met his father before the bombing, and wanted any memories I might have. A disabled combat marine vet sent me his Purple Heart last year for writing that article about Ann Coulter. (More about this below.)

    Lydia on the daily happenings on the Too Close for Comfort set...
    First Season Cast Photo of Too Close for Comfort
    There is something about seeing yourself on TV for the first time that makes you want to put a bag over your head and jump off a cliff. Contrary to what people believed, I never used drugs on the set, just Liquid Paper to whiten my teeth. This was before teeth whiteners. One day Ted Knight came into my dressing room and caught me blow-drying my teeth. This was the 80's, the era of giant shoulder pads and aircraft carrier hairdos. You could land a plane on my head. In fact, it looked like a 747 was permanently parked there, the wingspan was so huge.
    I was supposed to be the blonde bombshell of our show, so I had to stay very thin. Backstage, as on every film and TV set, there was a huge buffet of food they kept replenishing. It was covered with bagels, donuts, cookies, coffee cake, popcorn, chips, ice cream and soft drinks - but I wasn't allowed to eat any of it. There were spies everywhere. One day I left the soundstage, ventured into the outside world and bought a burrito, a taco, and bag of M&M's. I was sneaking back to my dressing room when Arne Sultan appeared out of nowhere. He caught me with all the food and yelled, "Don't you know you're a sex symbol!? You can't eat starch!" (This was before the word 'carbs.') The food went flying into the air and landed all over both of us.
    After the first episode aired, the producers took me aside and said my face looked chubby. To make it look thinner, for the second episode I used lift tape to pull up my cheeks until I looked practically Chinese. I think it lifted my vocal chords in the process because my voice got higher and higher until I sounded like Minnie Mouse. But maybe this was just nerves.
    I am writing a book about all my humiliating adventures in Hollywood and on the show, and there are so many funny ones to choose from. We were all very immature (as most comic actors are) and we would goof around during rehearsals. One day Ted, Jim, Nancy, Deb and I got into a conversation about sex. I think John Ritter had come to visit that day. By the time we got around to discussing the sex lives of goats and sheep, we were laughing so hard we couldn't breathe. My stomach actually hurt from laughing, as if I'd done 300 situps. Then the director came in and we were all in trouble for not rehearsing. They couldn't leave us alone for one minute without all hell breaking loose.
    On Wednesdays Ted would be all freaked out because the network would come down and watch the run-through with the producers. All of us hated being judged by the "suits." Usually they'd change the jokes and lines so we'd have new pages to memorize each day. We'd do two tapings on Fridays - one with a live audience.

    Lydia on the publicity back then...
    Lydia on the Pilot Episode of Too Close for Comfort
    To bring in male viewers ABC promoted me as a sex symbol. They created posters and publicity shots in which I had to crawl on all fours in a sequined bathing suit. This was so embarrassing! Ted was anxious to have another hit series because after The Mary Tyler Moore Show he was typecast and every show he tried failed, including his own series, The Ted Knight Show (1978). This always happens after you have a hit show. Sometimes it takes years. But Ted felt that Too Close for Comfort was his last chance. So he went along with the network exploiting me in cheesecake bikini photos (anything to raise the ratings) until he saw a magazine on the newsstand one day - this magazine had my face taking up the entire cover with just a tiny photo of him in the right-hand corner. The implication was that I was the star of the show, and the headline was "Lydia is a Daddy's Girl" - in reference to the fact that he played my father. Ted brought the magazine to work and literally threw it at me, yelling "I'M the star of this show! And don't you ever forget it!" There was also a tiny picture of Princess Diana and Prince Charles in the upper left hand corner, announcing their engagement.
    From that point on I shunned publicity and did everything in my power to lay low. All I wanted was Ted's approval - but the more I sought it, the more it eluded me. This was the beginning of a terrible time. It seemed there was a concerted effort to diminish my role and make me feel unimportant. At one point, the producers actually went so far as to hide my fan mail. They didn't want my head to get too big. Little did they know the depths of my low self-esteem.

    Lydia on her feud with Ann Coulter...
    In 2006, I had a public feud with Ann Coulter, America's preeminent hate-monger and "extermination speaker" - who said "the best way to speak to a Democrat is with a baseball bat," and who called for the assassination of Supreme Court Justice Stevens because he is pro-choice... and who helped bring down Bill Clinton with her book High Crimes and Misdemeanors. She also said he should be killed. She was the rock star of the conservative movement for awhile - and got paid $30,000 per speaking engagement at universities.
    I was bewildered by her so-called "Christianity" which omits the Golden Rule. Right after she said Bush should "nuke" North Korea, she was the featured pro-life speaker at a Moral Reformation conference! I found this unbelievable. So after she called to revoke the right of women to vote, I sent her an e-mail asking her if she was just kidding or serious. I asked her for an interview, attaching my private home info and home number and asking for an interview. I assumed she was just using humor as a weapon and this was just her "schtick." But she never wrote me back.
    Then my article "Death is Sexier than Sex to Ann Coulter" was published and I received 300,000 hits on my website and the publisher's site. Ann Coulter then published my home number and private info on her site and I began receiving death threats, hate mail and a stranger pounding on our door. My kids almost answered the door, and I had to grab them in the nick of time. We lived in mortal terror during Christmas. I did 27 radio shows in 2 weeks, one of which was Basham Radio in Vegas.
    At the same time, I was receiving hundreds of love letters and several phone calls at home thanking me for speaking out against this bizarre war-loving, hatemongering form of "Christianity."
    I was set to write a book about Coulter, a spiritual-progressive book, but decided I didn't need the negative attention. I wrote the book but there is such a wide cultural chasm in America now - I'd rather bring people together instead of being divisive. So I'm releasing my showbiz and humor books first. The Coulter saga doesn't end here. I have some highly classified details I can't reveal yet, which will come out soon. There is a lot more to this story, and it's pretty scary.

    Lydia on raising children...
    I interviewed Valerie Bertinelli on my radio show, and we were talking about our kids. I confided that I had been spying on my 14-year-old son's chat room and discovered he was talking about losing his virginity with a girl at school. Needless to say, I am completely freaked out. Valerie said she was nervous about her son Wolfie too. Neither of us can believe we are coping with things like this, since we both barely feel like grownups ourselves. She said that writing her book helped her "purge the shame" of her life. All the things she had been hiding and covering up were finally out in the light of day - and somehow this enabled her to get that lightness of being she was looking for. That's what I'm finally doing - not hiding anymore.

    Read more: Exclusive: Interview with Lydia Cornell; And Lydia Unleashed - News Blog