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Joely Fisher promises ‘Wild Card’ will get wilder

Daughter of Eddie Fisher and Connie Stevens struggled as a showbiz kid
/ Source: The Associated Press

“Wild Card” has gotten wilder.

Joely Fisher, who plays private investigator Zoe Busiek on the Lifetime series, says the network “wanted us to be more in peril; they wanted the stakes to be higher so the cases weren’t so namby-pamby.”

More danger is just one of several changes in the series’ second season.

It has a new time slot — Sundays at 10 p.m. ET. And Busiek and crime-solving partner Dan Lennox (Chris Potter) have a new boss — M. Pearl McGuire (Loretta Devine), described by executive producer Doug Steinberg as a Lou Grant type “in charge of things and to act as a comic foil.”

Steinberg says there’s also new emphasis on the case-of-the-week stories being “about bigger issues you might see in the headlines.”

But the show still plays up what has been referred to as its “Moonlighting” qualities — the banter and high jinks between Busiek and Lennox. Also Busiek still has to juggle the demands of her work with being a mother to three children she inherited when her sister was killed.

“The whole idea is that the show should be delightful,” Steinberg says, with much of that quality stemming from Fisher, whom he describes as “beautiful and normal at the same time...serious but funny.”

Living up to that billing, Fisher arrives for tea to talk about herself and the series, coming from Nana’s Garden, a business she owns with her mother, actress-singer Connie Stevens, and sister Tricia. It’s a play space for children where their mothers can also get lunch and a manicure.

Show business kidThe 36-year-old Fisher, who’s married and has a 3-year-old daughter, openly talks about her struggles as a second-generation show business child and the relationship with her father, singer Eddie Fisher, who was troubled by substance abuse and wasn’t around much for his kids.

She describes it as “cyclical” in its ups and downs and “I’ve just got disappointed again.” But she also recalls a time when her father told her, “‘You are not just a singer, you are a zinger’...That was a help, because that was what he had to give. So I took it and wrapped it up and kept it for myself.”

Asked if a career in show business was inevitable, she responds: “I would say so. I guess if you went to the deep psychology level, I was looking for love like anyone else and found it on a stage.”

According to family history, at about age 3, Joely vanished from backstage in a casino where Stevens was singing. Later she was discovered asleep in the strings section of the orchestra.

“I told my mother I had wanted ‘to hear the music from the inside,”’ Fisher recalls, and soon she was performing with Stevens.

An actress with a real woman's shapeFisher’s TV credits include playing Paige, friend to the title character on Ellen DeGeneres’ sitcom “Ellen.” She also was the talking baby’s mom on the short-lived sitcom “Baby Bob.”

Then came “Wild Card.”

Fisher relates to the qualities that make Busiek good at her job. “She’s intuitive, good at unearthing the truth, good at getting people to open up to her.”

She also likes a certain old-fashioned aspect of the show, more akin to “Murder, She Wrote,” “Hart to Hart,” or “Remington Steele” than today’s hard-edged “CSI” and “Law & Order” crime dramas.

She’s pleased to read messages from female fans identifying her as “more like me than other actresses,” referring to her more typical womanly shape — even though in real life, she’s skinnier than she appears on television.

Fisher would like to have time for an exercise routine but “now I have a toddler and a television show and I wonder when that would be!”