Rieffel Helps Fill the ‘Nest’

Rieffel Helps Fill the ‘Nest’

The 17-year-old Actress, Last Seen On ‘The Trials Of Rosie O’Neill,’ Moves To ‘Empty Nest.’

December 16, 1992 | Philadelphia Inquirer

Can Rosie O’Neill’s stepdaughter find happiness as the new kid on “Empty Nest?” Yup.

”This is the most established show I’ve ever done,” says bubbly, 17-year-old New Jersey native Lisa Rieffel. ”It’s nice not having to play a guessing game about whether it will be successful.”

Rieffel joins NBC’s hit “Nest” as Emily, the never-before-seen youngest daughter of Harry Weston (Richard Mulligan). Emily, 23, comes home from Italy for a surprise visit and ends up living with dad and sister Carol (Dinah Manoff). Rieffel’s first episode is set to air Jan. 2.

Rieffel fills the void left by Kristy McNichol, on leave for treatment of manic depression. McNichol, who appeared in 10 episodes this season, played sister Barbara, a cop. Her character’s absence has been explained as part of an undercover assignment.

Joining the show under those circumstances ”is weird,” says Rieffel, who has never met McNichol. ”I was nervous. Still am. Everybody misses Kristy, but they’ve made me feel very comfortable. She’s so talented. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do as good a job as she did.”

Rieffel, who broke into show biz at the age of 4 in a TV spot for a Franklin Mint porcelain doll, is a veteran of three short-lived series. Most recently, she played Sharon Gless’ sassy teen-age stepdaughter on CBS’ “The Trials of Rosie O’Neill.”

Rieffel was getting ready to audition for another show when her agent called about “Nest.” Without a second thought, she and her mother, Rose, her lifelong manager, bagged the original appointment and went for “Nest.” Six auditions later, the part was hers.

Rieffel and Emily are kindred spirits, she says.

”Emily is a modern-day hippie, a free spirit. She knows what she wants. She has definite and indefinite ideas. She does whatever she feels at the moment, and it usually pays off. She’s a golden child. Everything comes easily to her.”

In real life, Rieffel is a curious mix of age and youth. She plays bingo. Clips coupons, even files them. Her kid sister, Carla, 15, ”says I’m a 65-year-old trapped inside a 17-year-old’s body.”

Not to worry. She also likes to pig out on pizza and went to her boyfriend’s senior prom last year. He’s actor Breckin Meyer, who plays star Tom Arnold’s son in ABC’s new “Jackie Thomas Show.” He’ll be 19 in May. They’ve been dating for 10 months.