Cagney & Lacey is considered to be television’s first serious drama series with two female leads.
Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly played the title characters; Gless as Christine Cagney, an unmarried second-generation cop with an uncompromising desire to become the first female police commissioner, and Daly as Mary Beth Lacey, frantically attempting to juggle her time between home with a family and work with her ambitious, demanding partner.
During its seven-season run (1982-1988), the show garnered a total of 36 Emmy Nominations and 14 wins. There was not a year the series was on the air in which one or the other of the stars did not win the Emmy for Best Dramatic Actress in a television series.
Available for the first time on DVD are the four feature-length films that followed the conclusion of the groundbreaking television cop series.
With a release date of September 29, the four-disc set includes Cagney & Lacey: The Return (original airdate November 6, 1994), Cagney & Lacey: Together Again (May 2, 1995), Cagney & Lacey: The View Through the Glass Ceiling (October 25, 1995), and Cagney & Lacey: True Convictions (January 29, 1996). The first feature (The Return) will also be released separately on the same day.
Collectively, all four are known as The Menopause Years, affectionately named by Cagney & Lacey Executive Producer Barney Rosenzweig, husband of Sharon Gless, and also author of Cagney & Lacey… and Me.
Our Prattville Publisher spoke with Rosenzweig about The Menopause Years and the series that made history in so many ways.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): Cagney & Lacey: The True Beginning was released on DVD May 8, 2007. It featured the first full season of the show. Why wasn’t the second season released next instead of The Menopause Years?
Barney Rosenzweig: In the United States, I control the rights to The Menopause Years, but not the series that is in the hands of MGM and the MGM/Fox Video unit.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): Why was it decided that The Return also be released separately? Will there be any “extras” on that DVD that are not included on the 4-disc set?
Barney Rosenzweig: I really don’t know why the single release of only The Return, but I would imagine it is a test by the distributor to see if there are folks who might want to take a look at one movie and not make the commitment to the entire package. And no, to my knowledge, the single disc will not have any additional material that is not in the package of the quartet of films.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): Fans are keeping the faith concerning the remaining seasons on DVD. Do you think that purchasing The Menopause Years would further prove that there is a market for the rest of the seasons?
Barney Rosenzweig: That is my hope and the primary reason why I am agreeing to release The Menopause Years now. It is my belief that the independent distributor I turned this over to will do a much better job than MGM/Fox (how could they do worse?) and that will convince MGM to let me try my hand, along with Stan Moger’s distribution team, at putting out the entire series in one nice sized box.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): You organized a successful letter-writing campaign to the newspapers after Cagney & Lacey was cancelled in the spring of 1983 that resulted in the return of the series. Do you think that writing letters (or emails) today to the media would actually push a network into reversing a cancellation?
Barney Rosenzweig: I have been told that the Networks are less sensitive to this sort of fan pressure than in the past. Still, I would hold to the view that you cannot complain what is (or is not) on television if you do not actively express your opinion. It is the same as not voting and then complaining about the kind of governance you get.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): The fan base is huge even today. Why do you think that Cagney & Lacey still remains one of the best-loved programs in television history?
Barney Rosenzweig: I probably am not the best person to ask in that (despite what you might think) I do have some semblance of modesty. Okay… I will answer: It was good. It was very good and the two women who played the lead roles were extraordinary. It was honest and so were they. They looked at each other in the eye and they told the truth. That is rare in life and in television.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): Are there any TV shows currently on the air that you feel are quality programming?
Barney Rosenzweig: Oh sure. I am crazy about Amazing Grace, Fringe (I think JJ Abrams is a genius), and Brothers and Sisters. And, lest it go unsaid, I always watch Burn Notice. The leading man is terrific and the supporting cast is wonderful and I especially like the gal who plays the lead’s Mom (Sharon Gless).
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): Sharon keeps busy on the USA network’s hit show Burn Notice. But, what fills your days?
Barney Rosenzweig: I am writing a novel that is very slow going. I work on keeping Cagney & Lacey (the website) semi current. I play tennis and take very long lunches. I am now driving across the US from Miami to LA with stops in Columbus, Ohio (for the SC/Ohio State game) and Seattle (SC vs. University of Washington). Once in LA the lunches get shorter (everyone in LA works) and the unbreathable air precludes too much tennis so… maybe I will finish the novel between football outings.
I originally wanted to write another memoir (Cagney & Lacey: Before and After), but I ain’t doing that until the first one sells a whole lot more copies than it has thus far.
Article by Melissa Parker
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