Janine Turner is through with airheads

October 23, 1990|By Mike Duffy | Mike Duffy,Knight-Ridder

That pleasant summer surprise, "Northern Exposure," has been off the air for more than a month now.

The sublimely comic and clever CBS drama series about a young New York City physician adjusting to the slow, blissfully eccentric rhythms of life in small-town Alaska won't return until January or later.

So OK, we've got to wait until winter for more daft and wonderful tales of Dr. Joel Fleischman, Maggie O'Connell and the rest. Especially Maggie O'Connell.

Janine Turner is Maggie -- gutsy airplane pilot and practitioner of snappy, battle-of-the-sexes repartee. Plus, she's incredibly attractive.

"I turned down a lot of TV in the past because I was offered the stereotypical, classic airhead type," said the Texas-raised Turner during a recent phone interview from New York, where she now lives. "It was tough, though. It was work and it was money."

Early in her career, Turner, who is twentysomething, fell into the airhead stereotype pigeonhole as blond temptress Laura Templeton on "General Hospital." "They start to think that's all you can do," Turner said of the Hollywood game playing.

But luck really smiled when Turner, a natural brunette and nobody's version of an airhead, landed the role of Maggie O'Connell on "Northern Exposure."

Turner said she loves the show's "touch of humor and bizarreness." "I have a very deep affection for the show because I've waited so long for this caliber of work." And for this caliber of character.

When "Northern Exposure" debuted in July, it didn't take Turner long to start feeling the good career vibrations. She gets taken seriously now when she auditions for Broadway plays. And there are fewer and fewer offers to play "the typical sexpot" with her dark hair turned blond.

"Blonds don't have more fun," Turner joked. And when "Northern Exposure" hit the airwaves, "People started calling my agent and saying, 'She can act!' "

"For me, Maggie is this character who wanted to get away from a certain lifestyle, but she misses the banter and that Woody Allen type of urban, big-city knowledge. Then Joel shows up and she feeds off that."

Turner said the whole cast was pleasantly surprised by the rave reviews and instant, loyal following "Northern Exposure" generated.

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