Vicki Lewis Picks Her Three Favorite Episodes of ‘NewsRadio’

Not surprisingly, Phil Hartman-centric episodes dominate the list
Vicki Lewis Picks Her Three Favorite Episodes of ‘NewsRadio’

NewsRadio aired on NBC from 1995 until 1999. Despite never being a ratings hit, its first four seasons were hailed by critics for its witty writing and hilarious cast, and even today, nearly 30 years after its debut, it’s still considered among the sharpest ensemble comedies in sitcom history. Which is why we asked Vicki Lewis, who played the spunky receptionist, Beth, to share her three favorite episodes with us...

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‘Luncheon at the Waldorf,’ Season 1, Episode 6

“The blue dress episode — where Bill (the late Phil Hartman) takes me on a date, and then I force myself on him and make out with him — is one of my favorites because it was the first time I got a really juicy A-story,” Lewis says. “It was also hilarious.

“Phil Hartman was so on it. He was so prepared, and he was so naturally funny that whenever you had big scenes with him, you knew you were going to be carried. Speaking for myself, I know I learned while I was working with him and that he elevated all of my work.”

‘Space,’ Season 3, Episode 24

“This is the Season Three finale, which takes place on a spaceship,” Lewis explains. “I just loved my outfit in it. Suddenly Susan was going on at the same time, and Kathy Griffin’s character was named Vicki. We didn’t look dissimilar, and she was kind of dressing similar to me. Because of this, the costume designer and I started going to vintage shops and finding dresses and cutting them up. That’s when you started seeing me have a train or other outrageous things like that. We thought, ‘No one can mistake this for someone else.’”

‘Bill Moves On,’ Season 5, Episode 1

“Finally, of course, there was the Phil Hartman tribute episode, which I mention for very sad reasons,” she tells me. “I remember when I got the news about Phil’s death. I was living out in Malibu with a certain actor whose last name is Nolte — not one of my better choices. Anyway, he woke me up and told me the news. I just couldn’t process it. Phil lived in Malibu, too, and I knew he was having some issues, but it was all on a surface level. I was out in Malibu one night, and he was out walking around. We had run into each other, and he had just had a frustrating conversation or something. He said to me, ‘How do you do it?’ I think I told him, ‘I chew a lot of Xanax.’

“At the time, we both knew we were in a similar situation because, when we were at the Golden Globes, I was with Nick (Nolte), who, when I met him, was sober, and Brynn (Hartman’s wife) was sober. Then Phil and I watched them both decide it was okay to drink. I’ll never forget that. Of course, when everything happened later with Phil, I wasn’t in the room, and I don’t know everything that happened with them. It was just unfathomable what happened — it still doesn’t feel real.

“For the episode, it was Paul Simms’ idea to handle it the way we did. Those writers came together and found a way for it not to be too sentimental. We couldn’t stop crying. We were all sitting in Dave’s office — it was devastating. Then the ending, where we all came up and took one thing off Bill’s desk. It was brilliant and heartbreaking. The rest of that episode is a blur to me, to be honest.

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