Katey Sagal now married to a 'new' singing career

April 28, 1994|By Leonard Pitts Jr. | Leonard Pitts Jr.,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

The voice on the other end of the line is familiar . . . from too many Sunday nights spent in front of the television. It's the voice singing out of the tape player that's a surprise -- glossy, evocative and sure.

Thing is, it's the same voice. She's actress Katey Sagal, Peg Bundy on Fox's "Married . . . With Children." And singer Katey Sagal, whose new pop/R&B album, "All Is Well," is getting respectful notices in the pop music press.

As well it should. It's a pretty decent record. OK, so songs like "September Rain" and "That's How Love Goes" are overblown and endless. There are still enough catchy, radio-friendly meditations on life and love here ("Thunderhead," "Dignity," "Harvest") to warrant taking the record seriously.

And if you have trouble doing that because of a general (and generally, wise) scruple against taking seriously any TV actress who tries to sing, well . . . Ms. Sagal wants you to know something. She's the opposite -- a singer who tried to act. And "All Is Well" is not so much a star turn as it is a homecoming.

Before "Married," Ms. Sagal, an L.A. native and daughter of TV director Boris Sagal ("Man From U.N.C.L.E.," "Peter Gunn," "Rich Man, Poor Man"), was doing what she'd dreamed of since ZTC girlhood. But all was not well. "Record companies were always giving me development deals. Sort of like, 'Let's see what she's going to do now.' It was getting frustrating. I was relieved to have someone offer me a real job."

That offer came when CBS casting directors spotted her in a punk rock musical and asked her to audition for "Mary," a sitcom starring Mary Tyler Moore. "I got that job and I really had never considered [acting] as a career. . . . But they were going to pay me so much money!" adds Ms. Sagal with a lusty laugh.

She spent 13 weeks playing chain-smoking reporter Jo Tucker. But the show was canceled, "and I thought, 'I'll go back to my real job.' Then I got a call from the producers of "Married . . . With Children.' "

The rest is slob comedy history. Ms. Sagal became Peg Bundy, mother of Bud the sexless and Kelly the brainless, wife of Al the lifeless. The show was defiantly tasteless, a spitefully funny anti-sitcom that became one of the biggest successes of the fledgling Fox network.

The problem is, characters like that tend to cast looming shadows. Is Ms. Sagal concerned that people won't take her seriously as a singer?

"I don't know how concerned I am," she says, "but I do recognize that that's going to be a little bit of a stretch for people. I'm hoping that I made a credible enough record that people will allow me to be not just Peg Bundy."

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