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Melody's House : On a Rare Visit Home, the Star of '2 on the Town' Gives a Tour

October 06, 1985|JILL FLYNN

Melody Rogers is a confirmed--albeit exceptional--homebody. The reason for her stay-at-home ardor is simple: She's hardly ever there.

As the on-the-go hostess of KCBS-TV's Emmy Award-winning "2 on the Town," Rogers has been globe-trotting for the past five years. Her personable brand of reporting earned her two Emmys this year, one for best local performer, another for Los Angeles' best talk-show host (beating out her good friend and former co-host Steve Edwards, with whom she'd won the coveted award the two previous seasons; her current co-host is Bob Chandler, a former USC, Buffalo Bills' and L.A. Raiders' wide receiver).

The travel is both extensive and exhausting. One month Rogers might be in the Middle East, the next in Europe; three weeks later she might be touring Indian reservations in the Southwest. "On the show, it looks like vacations and it's wonderful, but it's not a vacation," she says.

"You're up early and, because we have to get so much in in a few days, you're ready to go to bed when you're finished working. But it's wonderful--and such an education. I feel I'm getting a master's degree in life."

Since her time at home is so brief, she especially values its security, comfort and quiet--the chance to read, relax in the garden with her dogs, have a few friends in for dinner. She bought her house, the first she's owned, in a probate sale two years ago.

"I never lived in a house before," she says. "My father always had to have the cash before he bought something, and we just always lived in apartments. But I've always wanted a house--and the fact that I was able to finally get one and do it the way that I wanted to, it's very special to me."

A typical California ranch-style home, it was in serious need of updating and decorating. Diane Lewis, of Diane Lewis & Associates of Malibu, an interior designer who has since become Rogers' close friend, replaced the living room's standard sliding-glass doors with sliding French doors. The room's light oak floors were refinished; the beamed ceiling, mantel and shutters were redone in a warm honey tone, and the room was painted a soft shade of gray. In all the rooms, crisp white architectural moldings were added and walls were lightened and brightened.

Next came the furnishings. Dove-gray flannel sofas that Rogers owned, antiques from local dealers and, into the mix, Rogers' cherished collection of Oriental accessories. An antique Japanese obi, framed in Lucite, hangs above the fireplace. Lewis converted 18th-Century Chinese vases into bases for bedside table lamps. Tiny treasures picked up by Rogers in the Orient are displayed in a pine curio cabinet that hangs on a wall near the dining table.

"I'm surrounded with things that mean so much to me. It's been put together with so much caring and fun," Rogers says. "When I get home from work, I like to sit in the little breakfast area in the kitchen, read my mail and read the paper, have a glass of wine and call my friends."

Rogers, who has the same relaxed manner off camera as on, didn't become an award-winning television hostess overnight. As a child, she played the piano and studied ballet. By 18 she had danced and acted in 21 musical productions. After studying theater at Northwestern University, she landed a part on Broadway, in "Coco," starring Katharine Hepburn.

But New York was mainly a succession of auditions, rejections and unemployment lines. So she moved to Chicago and became a weather girl on WBBM-TV ("I wasn't very good at it"). In 1977, she came to Los Angeles and captured a major role as Sheila in the national company of "A Chorus Line." In 1980, she read that Connie Chung would be leaving "2 on the Town" and that CBS would be looking for a replacement co-host. She applied for the job.


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