When VH1's So Notorious premieres this Sunday (10 pm/ET), it may leave some viewers a bit confused. They may think, "Hey, I never knew Loni Anderson was Tori Spelling's real mother...." But no, that's not one of Hollywood's best-kept secrets. Anderson, of course, is only playing the part in this fictionalized version of Tori's life. While Tori's real mother is Candy, Anderson is "Kiki," a twisted version of Aaron Spelling's wife. "Candy is a really nice lady," says Anderson, best known for her classic role as Jennifer Marlowe on WKRP in Cincinnati. "And, as we all know, being nice isn't funny. So Tori needed a nemesis, and I am the mother you love to hate."
TVGuide.com: How did this role come about for you?
Loni Anderson: I had to kind of fight to get in because they didn't want a celebrity name for the part. They wanted Tori to be the only celebrity because they didn't want people to get confused about the fact that she was playing herself, and then somebody else was not playing herself.
TVGuide.com: Farrah Fawcett guest-stars as Tori's neighbor in the first episode. Have you guys ever commiserated over the fact that, between the two of you, you made up about 90 percent of the posters on the walls of teen boys in the late '70s?
Anderson: [Laughs] We go way back. My very first job out here was for Aaron, a series called SWAT. Before Charlie's Angels, Farrah and I played beauty contestants. Our business is so incestuous, if you're in it long enough, you have a history with most everybody, and so we have laughed about how we became friends on the SWAT episode and we've talked about going through all the phases, the poster, the blondness and all that stuff. And she was Tori's neighbor in her condo [building], so that's true. Tori sent her the script and she thought it was a blast. We don't have a scene together, but we ended up in the same show again after all these years.
TVGuide.com: Will Aaron Spelling make an appearance on the show?
Anderson: I don't think so. Like Tori has said, she really doesn't want to confuse people, and so he's a voice-over [provided by actor Mark Capri], like Charlie's Angels.
TVGuide.com: Since we're talking "mother" stuff, you had your daughter, Diedra, very young, at 18. Which is tougher, being a young, single mother or being a celebrity mom?
Anderson: Well, we're so close in age. We were on our own. And then, of course, I have Quinton, my son [with ex-husband Burt Reynolds], who's 17. So I've done the "teenage mom" and the "40-year-old mom." But Diedra got a taste of celebrity when she was about 13 or 14 years old, and it was shocking for all of us. So I think it was tougher to be a celebrity mom for her, not as tough for my son, although they discuss it a lot and she helps him. He has the double-celebrity parent thing.
TVGuide.com: You were my introduction to Jayne Mansfield when you played her in a 1980 TV-movie.
Anderson: You know, I got wonderful feedback from that movie. Arnold [Schwarzenegger, who played Mansfield's husband, Mickey] and I have had a friendship that has lasted all of these years because of it. And then, of course, Mariska Hargitay, being Jayne Mansfield's daughter, came and visited me [on the set of the movie], and eventually we did Gambler V together. And Mickey flew in to visit with us. They treat me like I'm part of the family.
TVGuide.com: Is WKRP not on DVD yet because of music-rights issues?
Anderson: Exactly. Even in the reruns, they had to change the music, and it takes away from the show to just have canned, nondescript music when it was about a radio station with Top 40 hits and rock and roll. I think that has been the big stumbling block.
TVGuide.com: Has there been any talk of a reunion?
Anderson: That would be wonderful, and I think it all is up to [creator] Hugh [Wilson]. He was our creative genius, so he really is the leader. And, of course, now we've lost Gordon Jump. Gosh, it's been two years now.
TVGuide.com: You know, he has one of my favorite lines in the entire series. I'm sure you know what one that is....
Anderson: "As god is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly." [A classic WKRP episode featured a Thanksgiving publicity stunt in which the station dropped live turkeys from a helicopter.]
Anderson: He was magnificent, wasn't he? Just magnificent.
TVGuide.com: Who are you most in touch with from the WKRP cast?
Anderson: I'm probably most in touch with Howard [Hesseman] and Gary [Sandy], and was in touch with Gordon, too, when he was living. Tim [Reid] lives on the East Coast and Richard Sanders lives in the Northwest, so it's hard for everybody to get together. I talk to Jan [Smithers] on the phone all the time. We also get together with our directors and a lot of the crew. It was a really buddy-buddy show. None of us were well known before it, so it's kids who came up together.
TVGuide.com: If the DVD were to finally get released, would you want to take part in the extras, like DVD commentary?
Anderson: Oh, absolutely. I know a lot of people try to get away from what they were identified with, [but] I love it. I would be there in an instant. As a matter of fact, I just did [a pilot] for TV Land called Back to the Grind, and it's taking people from their old series and making them do their real job. So I worked at a radio station for a day, and it was so much fun.
TVGuide.com: What were some of the highlights of that day?
Anderson: Well, I started out as the receptionist, and manning the phones was the hardest thing I did all day. Then I did traffic and I was live on drive time. I didn't understand what everything meant, and I'm sure I caused accidents.
TVGuide.com: Where was this?
Anderson: I worked at several stations in L.A. KCLA, the country station and then I worked at a hip-hop station and the guys gave me all kinds of bling and taught me all kinds of lingo. I was on the radio with them and we were dancing in the booth. It was all so fun. I ended up the day at Dr. Drew's Loveline. It was really a blast. I now appreciate everybody who does those real jobs.