`Wings' Star Feels Upbeat About Career

When Crystal Bernard feels confident, her songwriting flourishes.

Crystal Bernard photo

From: Chicago Sun-Times 4/4/1993
By: Lon Grahnke

Now that NBC has renewed "Wings" for two more seasons, the popular sitcom actress can enjoy a rare sense of job security in the unstable world of television. She has been composing pop tunes faster than ever during the past eight months.

"I sold 10 songs," said Bernard, phoning from Los Angeles. "Paula Abdul, Tina Turner and Steve Winwood each bought one. They're mostly ballads with an R & B feel. The inspiration can come from anywhere. A guy will kiss me, and I'll write a song. It's the same with my acting. I've learned to trust my feelings and let it flow."

Bernard pours a flood of feeling into her starring role in "Miracle Child," her new NBC movie (8 p.m. Tuesday, WMAQ-Channel 5). She plays a young mom who wants her baby daughter to have a better, safer life in the sentimental Disney production.

"Everything stopped last year when we filmed `Miracle Child' in Florida," she said. "The sky was so blue. I felt so peaceful. There was no stress. I felt a little guilty, though, because I wanted to keep at least one of the two babies who played my daughter. I handled them so carefully at first, but after a while I hauled them around like a real mom."

Like Helen Chappel, the cello-playing waitress she portrays in "Wings," Bernard is single and unattached. Helen had a romantic relationship with pilot Joe Hackett (Tim Daly). Now, however, he and his brother, flyer Brian Hackett (Steven Weber) are yearning for chopper jockey Alex Lambert (newcomer Farrah Forke). Bernard said she isn't jealous of Forke, but added that Helen has a right to feel bad because Joe wants Alex.

"At first the writers wanted everyone to suddenly forget that Helen and Joe had a major thing together. I asked the women in the cast and crew, and they agreed that Helen wouldn't just shrug it off," Bernard said. "Our writers are smart and clever. They listen to us."

"Wings" settled into a new slot (7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Channel 5) when NBC moved "Seinfeld" to 8:30 Thursdays (after "Cheers") in February. "Our ratings have dropped a bit," said Bernard, who was picked as the sexiest woman on television in a Chicago Sun-Times phone poll last summer. "But overall NBC is doing better on Thursdays since the changes. I try not to worry about such things. I like entertainment to be entertainment."