Before Touched by an Angel executive producer Martha Williamson approached Valerie Bertinelli about joining the feel-good drama as a series regular, she wanted to be certain that the show would be back this fall. So, where did she go for answers? Straight to the top.
"We turned our computers off and prayed," she confessed to reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif. "We said, 'Lord, what do you think about Valerie Bertinelli, because why drag this woman through this if we're not going to be back next season.' And I'll tell you, I had such tremendous peace. We picked up the phone and called right back and said, 'Let's go for it. Clearly, we're going to be back.'"
Well, apparently God didn't let Williamson down: CBS ended up renewing the show for an eighth season, and sure enough, Bertinelli agreed to sprout wings as the angelic Gloria. Still, the image of Williamson and co. seeking God's input on a casting matter led several jaded journalists to chuckle a sight that made her mad as hell. "I know you guys are laughing," she scolded. "You think this is really funny, but it's true.
"I dare anybody to write a television show [for] seven years, 165 episodes, cranking it out week after week, and do that looking at a completely blank computer," she continued. "Unless you have a huge ego and think that by God you know everything, [then] you have to go somewhere to find it. And I trusted God. That's who got me through these last 165 episodes [and] that's who is going to get us through the next 165 episodes. And it's not funny."
Turns out, Williamson may need divine intervention now more than ever: CBS is uprooting Angel from its heavenly Sunday timeslot and moving it to the TV graveyard known as Saturday. But when it comes to attracting an audience on the ratings-challenged night, the writer-producer isn't relying solely on a higher power.
"There's going to be more action," she hinted. "I won't say the word 'edgier' in a violent or a disturbing more adult way, but I think there's a Saturday night desire to get a rush. And you're going to see that in the shows that we are doing."