Dinah Manoff and Park Overall
starred in a 1986 sitcom pilot for NBC called The Line from Empty
Nest's executive producers Paul Junger Witt and Tony Thomas. Dinah
played Karen Cooper, a young mother who goes to work on the assembly line in an
airplane factory after her husband loses his job; Park played her coworker,
Lucy, who was attempting to balance a sex-hungry husband with her night school
studies. The plot of the pilot dealt with Karen's attempts to adjust to
life on the factory line while trying to fill the void left by her
apparently beloved predecessor. Rounding out the cast were C.C.H.
Pounder (The Shield), Lori Petty (A League of Their
Own), Brian George (Babu Bhatt on Seinfeld), Andrew Rubin
(Police Academy), and Emmy award winner Alfre
In her 2007 autobiography, My First Five Husbands and the Ones Who Got Away, Rue McClanahan stated that some of Estelle Getty's lines had to be written on cue cards during the later episodes of The Golden Girls, somewhat foreshadowing the health problems that she would face in the years to come. Fans have commented that Estelle's performance on Empty Nest wasn't as vibrant as during her TGG prime. Rue's comments perhaps shed some light on why the Sophia character wasn't heavily focused on during her Empty Nest years, used more for sight gags and one-liners. Only two episodes utlized Sophia as the primary character during Estelle's time as a regular on the show.
Rue McClanahan also provided some insight into the show in her commentary on The Golden Girls episode "Sick and Tired" from that show's fifth season DVD set. The episode in question features cameos by Empty Nest 's Richard Mulligan and Park Overall. Rue spoke of Richard's kindness and of Park's prowess as a roller skater. She says Park would skate around the studio lot quite often.
Park Overall's love of skating once led to serious injury when she badly broke her leg. This was during Empty Nest 's fifth season. Park was absent from several episodes because of the injury and, after returning, spent several episodes on crutches with her leg in a cast.
Dinah Manoff directed seven episodes of Empty Nest throughout seasons 5-7: "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?," "Read All About It," "Brotherly Shove," "Just for Laughs," "Feelings, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Feelings," "Stand by Your Man," and "My Pal Valy-Val."
Actors Matthew Perry (Friends) and Stephen Dorff both appeared in the first season episode "A Life in the Day."
Marty Pollio, who guest starred in the season six episode "Diary of a Mad Housewife" as a mime, made the following comments about his experience working on the show: It was an honor to be doing scenes with Richard Mulligan, he was talented beyond belief, and a great guy too. I never realized what a good actress Dinah Manoff was until I watched her work on this particular episode...nice person, as well. The set was pretty relaxed and friendly. Park Overall (the southern one) was such a sweetheart, yet a complaining, whining princess at the same time. She lost sight of the fact that ANYBODY who's on a series, especially a successful one, is seriously LUCKY. I had a really good time on this one. He also had the following to say about Marsha Warfield when he guest starred on an episode of her series Night Court, which he called a "tough set": Marsha Warfield was quiet and very closed, but a couple years later when I worked with her on Empty Nest, she was warm and extremely friendly (that was a reflection of the moods on each of those sets). Marty's comments about Park Overall aren't too surprising given that in her Intimate Portrait special on Lifetime, she stated that she was "extraordinarily difficult" on Empty Nest. Marty's web site, The Pollio Folio, can be found at www.1comedian.com.
Empty Nest is featured in the Flashback: Sitcom Edition board game.
The game features trivia questions from over sixty sitcoms including
EN-related shows The Golden Girls and Soap. Sample Empty
Nest questions include "What did Harry do for a living?" and "What was the
name of the Westons' dog?"
In Estelle Getty's 2001 Intimate Portrait on Lifetime, it is said that producers of Empty Nest and The Golden Girls asked Estelle to do "double duty" and appear on Nest while The Golden Girls was still on the air. This is, of course, incorrect. Estelle didn't join the Empty Nest cast until 1993, after The Golden Girls and The Golden Palace had both ended. A clip from Estelle's first episode as a series regular on Empty Nest is shown during the Intimate Portrait .
The episode "More to Love" from Season 5, in which Emily has second thoughts when agreeing to accompany Carol's overweight high school lab partner to their fifteen year reunion, was originally written around the Barbara character as a Halloween themed episode. In that script, Barbara was having doubts about an overweight coworker taking her to the police department's Halloween party -- meanwhile, Harry and Laverne handed out candy at her apartment and Carol and Patrick attended the police dept. party as Madame Curie and Radium. When Kristy McNichol left the series, the Halloween plots featuring Harry & Laverne and Carol & Patrick were reworked into the episode "It's Not Easy Being Green." "More to Love" aired later in the season with the Emily-focused plot mentioned above.
Dinah Manoff's series State of Grace, which ran for two seasons on ABC Family in 2001-2002, was filmed on the same sound stage as Empty Nest.
Empty Nest spent $2000 for the stethoscopes, scales, jars of cotton balls, uniforms, etc., used regularly on the show. Other costs ranged from $20 for a retractable syringe to $2500 for an intensive care hospital bed setup.
Dinah's real mother, actress/director Lee Grant, played Aunt Susan in "The Return of Aunt Susan" episode.
Richard Mulligan dedicated his EN Emmy award to the life, career and friendship of Catherine Damon, who played his wife in Soap.
Soap was created by Susan Harris, who also created EN, The Golden Girls, and Nurses (as well as several other shows). Not only was Mulligan a regular, but Dinah Manoff was as well for one year, playing the snotty, sex-starved Elaine Lefkowitz--daughter-in-law to Mulligan's character.
Sources point to Dinah Manoff as being the first sitcom regular to die onscreen when her Soap character was killed by a gunshot.
Several actors who appeared on Soap also made appearances on EN (not to mention other Witt/Thomas/Harris produced shows): Donnelly Rhodes, Doris Roberts, Jennifer Salt, Gordon Jump, Richard Libirtini, Jay Johnson, Peggy Pope, and Judith-Marie Bergan...just to name a few.
Bear (a.k.a. Dreyfuss) had a brother named Julio who appeared in episodes of EN and a sister named Bodi who appeared in the film Steel Magnolias.
Bear became a father of twelve pups. But sadly six of them were accidentally killed when the mother sat on them. Three of the six appeared on an EN episode.
Bear's trainer Joel Silverman hosts the series Good Dog U. on the Animal Planet network.
"The Mentor," featuring Danny Thomas, was taped in late November 1990. Danny died the day after the EN broadcast with it being his final television appearance.
The studio facilities where Golden Girls, EN and Nurses were filmed is the former Desilu Studios where 8 of the nine seasons of I Love Lucy were filmed, as well as Danny Thomas' Make Room for Daddy, The Ray Bolger Show (Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz), and December's Bride to name a few. Later on Witt-Thomas-Harris Productions taped at the Sunset-Gower studios---the former Columbia Pictures' studios. Earlier in his career, Paul Junger-Witt worked for the former Columbia Pictures Television division called Screen Gems producing TV shows like Here Come the Brides starring Robert Brown, Bobby Sherman, David Soul and Mark Lenard (known to Star Trek fans as Sarek, Spock's father) and the first season of The Partridge Family. Today Screen Gems has been resurrected as a motion picture company for Sony Pictures.
Witt and Thomas produced Brian's Song that was directed by Buzz Kulik, who directed Kristy McNichol in the CBS TV-movie Women of Valor.
Richard Mulligan, Dinah Manoff, Kristy McNichol and Park Overall were all in Neil Simon movies: Richard in London Suite, Dinah in I Ought to Be in Pictures (she won a best actress Tony for the stage version), Kristy in Only When I Laugh, and Park in Biloxi Blues.
Kristy McNichol and David Leisure were in the movie You Can't Hurry Love in 1988, though they were not in scenes together."
The Empty Nest episode "Talk, Talk, Talk" from Season 4 offers a small treat for fans of the film Grease. In the episode, Edd Byrnes plays a judge at the chili cook-off in which Barbara, Carol, and Charley compete. In Grease, Byrnes played Vince Fontaine, the television host and dance contest judge adored by Marty Maraschino (played by EN's Dinah Manoff).