January 20, 1987, Tuesday
LENGTH: 915 words
HEADLINE: Conspiracy theory attempts to explain absences.
BYLINE: FEATURES The Small Screen SOME LIGHT ON " MOONLIGHTING': An avid fan of the show who understandably wishes to remain anonymous has advanced a theory about the protracted absences of Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis from the Moonlighting scene. To understand this theory, which seems to have been developed from the mind of someone who subscribes to the "conspiracy" view of history, some background is required. You must remember that the first season that Moonlighting was on the air there was some speculation about whether David (Willis) and Maddie (Shepherd) would ever fall in love.
SOME LIGHT ON " MOONLIGHTING': An avid fan of the show who understandably wishes to remain anonymous has advanced a theory about the protracted absences of Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis from the Moonlighting scene.
To understand this theory, which seems to have been developed from the mind of someone who subscribes to the "conspiracy" view of history, some background is required. You must remember that the first season that Moonlighting was on the air there was some speculation about whether David (Willis) and Maddie (Shepherd) would ever fall in love. This speculation developed because of the bickering nature of their relationship. In fact, the very premise of the show was constructed around the central girder of this love/hate relationship. Maddie and David bickered all the time, but there was an underlying sexual attraction for each other, buttressed by a genuine affection.
By the end of last season the show's producers had acknowledged the continuing speculation about whether David and Maddie would ever, as David called it, "get horizontal. " The producers joked around with the idea for a while and finally conceded that, yes, the show's protagonists could be expected to have an affair in the season that began last September. The 1986-87 season, they said, would find David and Maddie "horizontal" at last.
Between the time the producers made this revelation and the start of the fall season, several things happened. Most important, Willis became a star with more pulling power than even Don Johnson. He landed lucrative commercials, signed a recording contract, signed a pay-TV contract, signed a couple of movie contracts and even got someone to offer to let him "work behind the cameras" on a movie project or two. Shepherd, in the meantime, found her star rising with somehwhat less spectacular speed. While she was more famous than ever before as the result of Moonlighting's spectacular success, a commercial promoting cow meat was about the extent of her outside financial and artistic growth.
There were rumors of jealous spats between Shepherd and Willis on the set of the show. Rumors that they wouldn't even speak to each other were rife. The rumors grew so strong that the writers decided to devote an entire episode, the infamous "Rona Barrett Episode", to the subject. Now here is where the anonymous fan with the conspiratorial bent comes in. His actual theory can be expounded in a family newspaper, but here it is with only slight modification: The reason there have been only a few original episodes of Moonlighting this season has nothing to do with the show's writers running out of good ideas. The reason can be traced to last year's prediction by the producers that this would be the season when David and Maddie finally wind up in bed together.
The theorist's explanation is that Willis remembers that prediction. Shepherd remembers that prediction.
Neither is quite certain when the "horizontal" show is going to be filmed. Each dislikes the co-star so much that neither is willing to report to work for fear that the infamous "horizontal" script might be dragged out that day. To avoid having to make actual physical contact with the other, each is staying away from the show with a vengeance. So rabidly afraid of being forced into bed together are the two stars that they won't come to work often enough to allow any new episodes to be filmed.
The producers, to avoid the humiliation of putting on a whole season of reruns, have desperately concocted a series of shows that either depict David and Maddie without the other being present, or omit them altogether, or, at most, show them together for a minute or two at the beginning and ending of the show.
One supposes this sort of thing could go on for quite some time, but it surely is having a somewhat strange effect on a show that was built on the premise of hilarious interaction between the two stars as they investigated modestly interesting murder mysteries.
This is not meant to violate or infringe on any copyrights.