And, aside from occasional guest roles, Loring played housewife and mother until 1979--when Thinnes, disturbed that his wife seemed to be descending into a routine of soap-opera watching and apathy, encouraged her to go back to work. Producer Curtis, for whom Loring had worked as a child, invited her to became casting director for his NBC movie "Raid on Coffeyville" and that network's "Supertrain," the 1979 anthology series described in one TV dictionary as "one of the most expensive failures in the history of network television."
After "Supertrain," Loring joined Aaron Spelling Productions, a partnership that grew out of a friendship with Spelling developed during her days as an actress. During a week when "I was really depressed and thinking about what my life was going to be," Loring called Spelling and asked him to help her launch a TV movie based on the book "The Best Little Girl in the World," about an anorexic teen-ager.
Spelling liked the idea, and took it to ABC. They liked it too. Before making Loring producer of the movie, however, he insisted she get her feet wet by producing a two-hour movie called "Return of the Mod Squad" (husband Thinnes played a role in the movie). After that, Spelling asked Loring to stay with the company as vice president of development and talent, motion pictures and television; she later created a feature-film division for the company, which produced the hit "Mr. Mom."
Hence Loring's tendency to respond to TV's annual schedule as the tide responds to the sun. "By the end of May through the beginning of July, I'm going to be right back into 'I hate this. I never want to do this again,' " Loring said. To put it mildly, Loring tends to be blunt about all of the frustrations of the TV business--including her conflicts with others with whom she has worked. Where the public statements of some studio executives remain as sterile as a press release, Loring ruffles feathers. Big feathers.
Take Spelling's feathers, for example.
Although quick to credit Spelling for teaching her the TV basics ("I got my B.A. from Spelling, and my master's degree from Gerber."), Loring is equally quick to bite back when attacked by her former mentor.
Spelling was recently quoted as criticizing MGM/UA's "thirtysomething" as "whiny" (hardly the first time anyone has offered that opinion). Loring was quoted as saying that Spelling had abused his immense power by turning out titillating trash like NBC's short-lived "Nightingales" instead of quality programs. "Speaking as a woman, not as an executive, I find that show offensive," she said.
Loring winced when reminded of those comments--although she said she would have made them to Spelling's face. "That's what I meant about my being too honest," she said. "The person who was angriest was Gerber. He said: 'Why was it important for you to go on the record that way? . . . You are the most self-destructive person on the planet!' "
Though Aaron Spelling Productions has recently optioned the first screenplay written by Loring's 21-year-old son, Christopher Thinnes, a UCLA student who also works for "Young Riders" producer Jonas McCord's Paragon Productions, Loring is still critical of Spelling. She and Spelling parted in 1984 because, she said, she no longer wanted to produce featherweight projects such as the series "Glitter," "Sizzle" and "Portrait of a Male Model."
"I decided, what does it mean that I'm taking his paycheck, when I'm producing projects that I don't have a passion for?" Loring said. "That's selling out. I wouldn't sell myself out to get a show on the air, I just wouldn't."
Loring says now that she no longer blames Spelling for all of his choices, since many of them were handed down by the networks. "They kept coming to him for more and more 'Aaron Spelling' kind of shows, and it was very easy for him to keep doing it. In all fairness to him, he kept trying to push for more uplifting television." Through his publicist, Spelling declined to respond to Loring's comments.
Loring also had a few complaints about "Baby Boom" star Kate Jackson. Bad publicity about Jackson's temperamental behavior dogged that production from the beginning. "She should have lost her SAG card," Loring said indignantly. "It was the most unprofessional behavior I've ever seen."
Like Spelling, Jackson refused comment, but NBC Entertainment president Brandon Tartikoff said: "I would say that at any given time, there is an actor or an actress walking off some set somewhere. That's, like, standard--when you hear about it, your blood pressure doesn't even go up one decimal. I can't comment on the day-to-day--but from where I sit, I didn't find anything extraordinary about her (Jackson's) behavior."