Fans over 35 who might see the critically acclaimed One Day at a Time on Netflix might remember another version of the series that did its own trailblazing four decades ago. Overseen by TV genius and still-living legend Norman Lear, the original series dealt with some serious issues including divorce, teenage sex, a single mom dating, rebellion, and more.
One of the cast members in the middle of the run was Glenn Scarpelli who brought ODAAT an “Alex” years before Marcel Ruiz was even born. Alex Handris first interacted with the Romano family when his father (played by Alias’ Ron Rifkin!) was dating Bonnie Franklin’s Ann Romano. This Alex formed an especially strong friendship with Pat Harrington Jr.’s Dwayne Schneider, and Scarpelli has often times referred to the late Pat Harrington as someone he looked up to in real life as well.
Another relationship Glenn built on the original One Day at a Time series was with Mackenzie Phillips who played TV’s original Julie Cooper. Glenn has maintained a long friendship with the actress, and the two recently acted together again in a film called Sacred Journeys which became available on Amazon Prime Video today (September 28). And the experience of both Glenn and Mackenzie hasn’t ended with just One Day – Phillips has already appeared on multiple episodes of the Netflix incarnation of the series, and Scarpelli will be appearing in the third season which is likely headed our way next year on Netflix.
Glenn Scarpelli took the time recently to talk with KSiteTV about Sacred Journeys and the One Day at a Time reunion within. But first… here’s the official synopsis for the film:
Marco is a mess. He’s lonely, depressed, and just barely going through the motions of life. When a surprise visit from his past turns him upside down, he discovers what’s been holding him back all this time. This tender comedy shows what new beginnings can look like in the age of a modern family.
The interview follows below.
KSITETV’s CRAIG BYRNE: Are you anything like your character Marco in this movie?
GLENN SCARPELLI: The common ground that Marco and I share is our path of growth (spiritual growth). Neither of us are preachy in any way and the life lessons we learn are done in very different ways, but the arc of that character in his growth is something I always related to.
How did your close friendship with your One Day at a Time costar Mackenzie Phillips begin?
Mack and I have always had a special relationship. As time grew and we spent more time as adults together we realized we were truly support for each other. We love each other so very much!
Are we to assume that the character Luke was conceived shortly after her character walked in on you in the shower?
[Laughs] You crack me up! “That’s the last time I’m taking a shower naked!!”
How did it come about to have a mini-One Day at a Time reunion in this movie?
I have been part of developing this project from the inception. Once we began to develop the character of Tiff I called Mack immediately to play her. She attached herself to the project right off the bat without hesitation, and I will forever be grateful.
Can you talk about casting the young actor who played Luke?
In casting Luke we knew we needed a young actor with heart and sincerity. I called many friends who were managers and agents and my dear friend Peter Kluge (who is a successful talent manager in L.A.) said, “look no further!! I have a Glenn Scarpelli mini me!” And he was right! Matthew Kosto did such a beautiful job in the film!! And we adored working with him! We are all still very close!
The press kit mentions a “carefully placed tribute” to ODAAT creator Norman Lear in the movie. Can you offer any clues as to where we can find it?
We love Uncle Norman more than words can ever say! We wanted to honor him secretly in the film. Look for a pic of him the first time Tiff comes to visit Marco at his home — that’s all I’ll say!
You recently taped an appearance for the third season of the One Day at a Time revival. What was it like to be back there, and is there anything at all you’re allowed to reveal about your character?
I really can’t say anything about the new season of ODAAT on Netflix, except binge it when it comes out! It’s an amazing season, and I adored working on it… I love my extended family so much!
The original One Day at a Time was groundbreaking for its time, but the new series seems to cover topics the original series might have found too taboo. Are there any topics you wish the show had covered when you were on?
I love how the oldest sister (played brilliantly by Isabella Gomez) is now a gay character. I think had things continued for our version we might have found out that my Alex was gay. That’s how I would have seen it anyway! [Laughs]
To this day you still seem to have a lot of fond stories to share about your time on One Day at a Time. What was it that made that show so special?
That show not only touched my life personally but touched society in so many ways. It brought awareness to social issues (especially woman’s rights) and I am so proud to have been a part of it. Before Norman Lear TV shows the biggest controversy in sitcoms were “we burned the turkey!”
What made Sedona a perfect backdrop for this “sacred journey?”
As soon as we started developing the project I knew I wanted to make a movie in my home of Sedona! It’s beautiful, magical and totally under utilized in tv and film. It’s not just a backdrop in this movie.. it’s a character in the film. The film was created around it.
How did it come about for you to own your own television station in Sedona, and what kind of programming does it feature?
I started Sedona NOW TV 18 years ago and I’m so honored and grateful to have this business in my life. I still run the station on a day to day basis. I moved to sedona not knowing what I was going to do. I moved here for peace in my heart and to prove to myself that I am walking my talk in changing priorities in my life. I choose happiness above all else. One thing led to another and opportunity for the station arose. I raised the funds (with two other partners at first) and began the journey. The station (channel 18) entertains our millions of visitors and showcases all the things to experience while folks are here. I’m honored to be embedded so deeply in the fabric of Sedona! It’s a very special place.
What do you hope people take away from watching this picture?
The movie we set out make was a life journey to show how our circumstances can help us grow if only we are aware. The key ingredient to catch our attention is LOVE. Marco finds love through this unique and modern family — a family he didn’t even see coming. It transforms his life in significant ways; ways that last forever.
What did you learn from doing this movie?
I learned personally that if I set my mind to accomplish anything it can come to fruition with hard work and determination. I included all my friends in the vision so that made the whole experience totally fun, too. I’m motivated by fun! I’m so grateful to each and everyone that helped to make this happen… I’m proud of what we all created!
Are there people involved with the production that you feel deserve a special shout-out?
A special mention to our director Tracy Boyd (who was also my producing partner)! We worked so well together! This is what I truly call a joint effort!
There are so many people that need mentions it will take up pages and pages… but I do want to especially thank production designer Tiffany Miller, associate producer Noah Smith, director of photography Radan Popovic, music composer Eric Miller, everyone at Beyond Words Publishing and all our exec producers!! A VERY special shout out to my honey (also an exec producer) Jerry Gilden: “Working together was such a joy and thanks, Honey, for letting some cast and crew stay at Sedona Vacation Villas!” Honestly the entire town of Sedona supported us in so many ways. Okay… stop me because I can go on and on with names and names!
Oh… and a huge THANK YOU to Stephen Wallem (from Nurse Jackie) for taking the part of my boyfriend… sooo fun to work together!
Where can people watch Sacred Journeys?
The film is available to stream on Amazon Prime and available for download on Amazon.
Where can your fans find you online?
I am on Facebook, Twitter and now recently Instagram @glennscarpelli.
Our thanks to Glenn Scarpelli for this interview. You can find Sacred Journeys on Amazon Prime Video here, and if you’re craving some classic One Day at a Time, the entire series is available on DVD.