January 5, 2011, 5:56 AM
Jane Seymour's new Hallmark Channel original movie, "Perfectly Prudence," boasts a collection of elements sure to delight the actress' fans.
Here's the long-awaited reunion with her "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" leading man, Joe Lando. There are fun turns by her real-life husband, James Keach, and daughter, Katie Flynn. And there's a return to Seymour's popular character as television do-it-yourself maven Prudence MacIntyre.
Indeed, "Perfectly Prudence," premiering at 9 p.m. Saturday on Hallmark, might seem like a concoction dreamed up by ratings-minded executives -- but, as the Emmy-winning actress tells it, the story behind the movie is a lot less calculated and a lot more full of heart.
"I did the first 'Dear Prudence' movie a couple of years ago for Hallmark, as one of their murder mysteries," she says. "It did really well and the fans loved it. Initially, Hallmark was going to do a series of them, but then they decided not to do murder mysteries anymore. It was sort of abandoned. Then the writer, Rob Gilmer, wrote 'Perfectly Prudence' with the same character, but in more of a romantic comedy. He had met Joe Lando socially at our house, and he'd met Katie [Flynn]. And he thought, how much fun it would be to put all of us together. So he wrote it on spec, and then Hallmark said, 'Let's do it.'
"It's a piece of fun. It's something very different from what's out there, and we've been looking for something for Joe and I to do for years," adds the Middlesex-born star, whose English accent burnishes her warm, businesslike demeanor. "I think this will be a dream come true for the 'Dr. Quinn' fans who've been wanting us to work together again."
It is fun indeed to see Seymour and Lando back in action, this time in contemporary garb rather than their "Dr. Quinn" frontier duds. Their characters are at odds -- with Lando as a producer brought in to help shake up Prudence's TV show against her will, by none other than bad ol' media mogul James Keach.
The Keach and Lando families have remained close friends in the years since "Dr. Quinn," Seymour says. "We spend a lot of time together, and actually, Joe and James are particularly good friends."
Working with Lando again, she says, "was absolutely fantastic. I think the two of us play off each other even better now. And it's fun also with Katie," she notes of her 28-year-old actress offspring, who plays Prudence's daughter/producer. "Joe had a great rapport with her because he's known her since she was a little girl."
Their bond was evident during "Perfectly Prudence" production, with Seymour, Lando and Flynn spending much of their time together between camera calls on location in Grand Rapids, Mich. They even made an excursion to Mackinac Island, where Seymour shot her 1979 film, "Somewhere in Time."
"We realized that we weren't that far away, so we got flown out there in a private airplane. I took all the cast," Seymour recalls. "We all went out and spent the day on the island and visited where Christopher Reeve and I made that movie. It was kind of interesting because it was a day of the two great kind of romantic leads in my life coming together for me -- Christopher Reeve, who I adored and who was my friend until unfortunately we lost him, and Joe."
Still beautiful 37 years after she first made a cinema splash as the Bond Girl of "Live and Let Die," Seymour looks young for a woman who proudly talks about her six children (her grown daughter, son, stepdaughter and stepson, and 15-year-old twin boys). She's racked up pages of achievements as not only an actress, but as an artist, an author, a designer and a businesswoman -- and was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000.
Looking back, it seems Seymour has managed, time after time, to transform setbacks and hardships into a sort of fuel to take her down fruitful new paths. When injury put an early end to her dreams of becoming a ballerina, she turned her focus and drive toward acting. When her marriage to real estate businessman David Flynn broke up, and she found herself in dire financial shape, she told her agent she was so desperate to work, she'd take "anything." Along came a last-minute opportunity to take on a series that had just lost its leading lady. Seymour would be playing a female doctor in the old west, an unlikely role that became one of her greatest successes -- Dr. Quinn, of course.
"That came from an unbelievable hardship, which makes me really appreciate and understand what's happening to so many people right now with this economy," she comments. "A girlfriend of mine just told me that she's losing her home to the bank, and you know I just so clearly remember it happening to us, and it feeling as if life was falling apart.
"But I really believe in my mother's philosophy of the open heart -- which is truly that stuff happens to all of us and you can stay in that moment of terror or fear or hatred or pain or anger, or you can process it. You have the choice. And personally, I believe that the sooner you acknowledge that something happened, the sooner you're in the present moment, and you have different opportunities," Seymour continues.
"And when you go out there and you try to do the right thing, or try to be useful and helpful to other people, it feeds you, and extraordinarily wonderful things happen for you. If you reach out to help someone else, amazing things come into your life."