Kirstie Alley is back in a big way, taking on her much-publicized weight gain in her new television series, "Fat Actress."
The former "Cheers" star has weighed as much as 203 pounds and was featured on the cover of tabloid magazines in unflattering candid shots, including scarfing down fast food in a restaurant parking lot.
Now, she is the Jenny Craig spokeswoman and has dropped about 20 pounds, and her new show, which premiered Monday night on Showtime, is getting a lot of attention.
Alley sat down with "Good Morning America's" Diane Sawyer to talk about the irreverent comedy, in which she names working actors who are "fatter" than her -- including "Sopranos" star James Gandolfini -- and says that she wants to date black men because they like larger women.
Male Actors Allowed to Be Fat
"Fat Actress" has been compared to Larry David's HBO comedy, "Curb Your Enthusiasm," in its blurring of the real and fictional lives of its main characters and its willingness to poke fun at Hollywood.
In a scene in the first episode, Alley is sitting in her car voraciously eating a burger and talking on the cell phone to a television executive about getting a new show. The executive tells her that if she wants to get a show, she needs to lose weight first.
Alley shoots back: "I mean, look, John Goodman's got his own show. And Jason Alexander looks like a freakin' bowling ball. And how about James Gandolfino [sic]? He's like the size of a whale. He's way, way, way fatter than I am!"
'Maybe I'll Have an Affair With Jamie Foxx'
On the show, Alley also has a romantic encounter with a black man, and in real life she has said that black men are more forgiving about women's weight.
"They like it," she told Sawyer. "Did you hear Jamie Foxx's interview? Yesterday, I just heard Jamie Foxx's interview and they said, 'What kind of body do you like?' And he goes, 'Well, you know, meat, weight, thickness.' I'm like, yeah! So maybe I'll have an affair with Jamie Foxx."
While much of the show focuses on Alley's struggle with her weight, she says she is less hung up on the subject than the public seems to be.
"I wasn't as sad as people are trying to make me sad," she said. "I was sad for about five days, because I owed the IRS a lot of money and I was fat. So when I put poor and fat together, I was like, 'OK, you might as well just throw in the towel, sister.'"
But after a few days of not getting out of bed, Alley said she picked herself up and thought "'there's gotta be something funny and entertaining about this fat thing,' and that's when I created the show."
Show -- and Life -- Is About More Than Fat
While Alley sheds the pounds, the concept of the show will inevitably lose a bit of its meaning as well. But Alley says she and the producers saw that coming.
She said that the "fat routine" wouldn't hold up forever anyway, and the show is meant to be about much more than her weight.
"We see this show as something that is about the things that drive women crazy about themselves, the things that they fret about at night and worry about and feel is so important. … Fat is one of them," said Alley.
And she stresses that, in the big picture, gaining a few extra pounds is insignificant.
"When you look around the world and see what's going on, and real hardship, how can I go, 'oh, God, I gained 60 pounds?' I mean, who cares?" she said.