Kirstie Alley keeps it real in A&E's `Big Life'

LOS ANGELES Alley said she would adore guest roles on "Glee" and "Modern Family" and knows exactly what they should be. On Fox's show about a high school glee club, Alley could see herself as an acting coach in search of singing talent for a musical. On ABC's "Modern Family," she's itching for a more maternal part.

"I want to play the gay guy's mom," she said, referring to the heavyset character of Cameron, partner to Mitchell (actors Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson). "And they've got to do it quick, while I'm still plump."

As viewers of her "Kirstie Alley's Big Life" know, the actress is intent on shedding the pounds that have routinely landed her on the covers of what she dismisses as "rag magazines."

Articles and photos that she says distort her and her life are part of the reason she decided to appear in her first reality series.

"Anything bad you can say about me, they say. I've never collapsed, fainted, passed out. Basically, anything they've said, I never. The only true thing is I got fat," Alley said.

She also sees the show as a vehicle to work with her teenage son and daughter, True and Lillie, and to provide a realistic take on weight loss.

"I wanted people to watch the journey of it, instead of me showing up with, `Oh, I'm skinny,"' said Alley, 59.

The ex-Jenny Craig spokeswoman, who regained weight she lost on the program, is aiming to drop 80 pounds through an organic regimen she's launched. Before she gained weight about five years ago, she said, she was used to carrying a svelte 130 pounds or so on her 5-foot-8 frame.

The Emmy-winning "Cheers" and "Veronica's Closet" sitcom star is enjoying her foray into reality TV after a brief period of adjustment to being on camera as herself in "Big Life" (airing Sunday).

"The show feels like a comedy to me. It's the definition of an actual sitcom," she said.

The humor stems in part from what Alley calls a happy but unconventional household.

"We're a group of people that love each other and work together. The kids are in total communication with me. But I didn't realize how eccentric we are until I saw the footage," she said. I thought, `Doesn't everybody live with lemurs?"'

(The lemurs, technically, have their own section of the house, which connects to a room-sized outdoor caged area.)

One thing not found in Alley's life at this point: a partner. After a lifetime of attachments, including two marriages, she said she enjoys the freedom.

If she had a relationship, she speculates, "I'd leave the guy within 24 hours because I'm sure he'd tell me not to do something."

A business associate, overhearing her, says she deserves someone who appreciates her beauty and lets her be free.

"That sounds swell. Where do I get that man?" Alley replied, with an ample touch of sarcasm.

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