Question: Question concerning the series Wiseguy with Ken Wahl: What was the name of the actress that played Susan Profitt? I am drawing a blank and I know that I know who she is but... nothing. Please let me know. Thanx. Rob
Televisionary: Well, I'll thank you for at least asking me one of the easiest questions I could think up about that show, Rob. The actress in question was the sultry Joan Severance, whose soulless Susan enjoyed a very close relationship with her similarly evil, utterly unstable crime-king brother Mel (Kevin Spacey). You probably most recently saw Severance, a former model who signed with Elite Modeling after entering a Miss Houston beauty pageant, playing beside Robert Urich on UPN's ill-fated The Love Boat: The Next Generation.
But the simple answers, whether it's trying to explain the critically acclaimed show's intricate plot developments or attempting to figure out exactly why Wahl left the show, end there, as far as I'm concerned. The show was never a ratings success, but it developed a cult following among viewers and TV writers alike when it debuted on CBS in the fall of 1987.
Via an innovative story-arc structure, the series followed the adventures of Organized Crime Bureau cop Vinnie Terranova (Wahl), who worked undercover and infiltrated various mob organizations to take them down from the inside. With the oversight of superior Frank McPike (Jonathan Banks) and the covert assistance of "Lifeguard" (Jim Byrnes), Vinnie first went after Atlantic City kingpin Sonny Steelgrave (Ray Sharkey) before moving on to tackle the wacky team of Mel and Susan, who spent a good deal of their time aboard their huge yacht, dubbed Hotel. An appropriate name for the vessel, certainly, considering Mel and Susan used it mainly as a floating drugs-and-sex crashpad when they weren't galavanting about the world cutting various narcotics and arms deals.
From there, everything gets messy, both on- and off-camera. Mel ended up killing himself, Susan wound up in a mental hospital, Vinnie uncovered a near-incomprehensible arrangement involving rogue CIA operatives, a Senate investigation, murder, more suicide and subsequent plots revolving around the music business and mobsters big and small. After what most in the know termed a "disagreement" with series creator and all-around TV legend Stephen J. Cannell (The Rockford Files, The A-Team, The Greatest American Hero), the show returned to the airwaves with no Wahl and Steven Bauer as Vinny replacement Michael Santana.
What happened? Only the players themselves know for sure and maybe even they don't. Cannell said Wahl quit. Wahl said he was pushed out. Either way, they managed to sort it out enough to shoot a TV-movie revival for ABC in 1996.
The star has had some problems since the series left the air, including a serious back injury and troubles with the law. However, it'd be nice to see Wahl, who's said he doesn't miss the biz, show up on the screen once more. He always made it interesting.