Melissa Peterman Tells All on Her Weight Loss!
Melissa Peterman is having an extra martini. She's entitled.
Her sitcom, "Reba," which ends tonight after a solid six-year run, transformed her from a Minnesota improv staple to a national celebrity. She's enjoying a rare break from mommy duties. And she's reveling in her new va-va-voom figure, which may be instrumental in nudging her into a new Hollywood role: leading lady.
"Auditioning has been fun lately," said Peterman, 36, who has shed 60 pounds since giving birth to Riley in October 2005. "I walk into a room and people go, 'Huh? That's different.' It's the first time I'm being considered for leads and not the second bananas."
Not that supporting roles haven't been very good to the Minneapolis native.
As Barbara Jean, she shined as Reba McEntire's main foil, a brassy dental hygienist who stole the star's husband and sounded like an out-of-tune tuba every time she opened her mouth.
"I get a lot of jail mail," she said, sipping cocktails at her favorite watering hole, a converted firehouse just a couple blocks from the house she shares with her husband, Minneapolis actor John Brady, in the L.A. suburb of Silver Lake. "I love the image of prisoners saying, 'Hey, we can rape the new guy later. "Reba" is on!' " Despite finishing as one of the top sitcoms, first on WB and later CW, the show leaves the air with little fanfare, an obvious cue that the sitcom's homespun humor didn't gel with a network's desperate desire to be hip.
"I wish I could understand it more," Peterman said. "You're the No. 1 comedy on a network and that's your reward? I think they're trying to create an identity and they don't want to be associated with us."
She talks about the thrill of performing a bawdy, Bette Midler-ish routine last year at a breast-cancer foundation ("After I was done, David Hyde Pierce said, 'You are a god' "), meeting her idol, Carol Burnett, at a dinner McEntire arranged ("I kept saying to Reba, 'Don't let me drink. I will start to weep' -- and I did a few times during the meal") and doing more than a dozen episodes of "Hollywood Squares" ("I was in an elevator with Phyllis Diller and Sally Struthers!")
Then there's that weight loss. Peterman credits her trainer -- and her baby.