As the Charlie’s Angels TV series celebrates its 45th Anniversary on Sept. 22, West Hollywood resident Mike Pingel will mark his own contribution to the series’ continued history with the release of his new book, Angelic Heaven: 25 Years of Charlie’s Angels News, which takes a look at how Pingel created the “Angelic Heaven” newsletter and CharliesAngels.com, and how Pingel’s passion for “Charlie’s Angels” turned into 25 years of Angelic news for fans round the world.
The book will also contain the first 4 years of the printed newsletter, fans memories of the series, the newsletters’ achievements and legal battle over theCharliesAngels.com domain.
Pingel created the “Angelic Heaven” newsletter on August 1995 and premieredCharliesAngels.com on the Internet in October 1996. The website was quickly picked as site of the day by both Yahoo.com and WebTV. Since then, the site has been updating fans on the current works of the actresses and everything Charlie’s Angels. The Facebook page at www.facebook.com/charliesangelstv has now over 18K followers.
Pingel has one of the largest Charlie’s Angels memorabilia collections in the world, including rare items such as as the original Harry’s Angels script, a Charlie’s Angels pinball machine, Cheryl Ladd’s character Kris Munroe business card, one of the Jill’s car license plates and Farrah’s sunglasses. Pingel has penned two books about the series and is releasing a third
When did you first hear about Charlie’s Angels?
I first heard about Charlie’s Angels in the fall of 1976 when I was around seven years old. I fell in love at the same time the whole world was falling in love with Charlie’s Angels.Farrah, Kate and Jaclyn hit the airwaves first with the pilot movie and then it became a TV show on September 22nd, 1976.
The pilot is a little different from the series. In the pilot, the Angels were actually detectives. When undercover, the Angels didn’t use guns as they did in the series. There were two male counterparts in the office, Woodward and Bosley. Then, of course, there’s Charlie and the three Angels.
The original pilot was an hour and 20 minutes and did really well when it aired on March 21st, 1976.The network ABC-TV was like, “We need to put this on the schedule for the fall.”The pilot film got a 52Nielsenrating and those TV days only Super Bowl games were receiving ratings that huge. The pilot really had no fanfare and the Angels blew the ratings through the roof.
What was it that was so enrapturing about the show?
It was the chemistry of the three Angels which was something that had not been seen on TV with three actresses in the lead roles. We had Bionic Woman and Wonder Woman, but those characters were more fantasy driven. The Angels were someone who could actually be your neighbor. They were real. The Angels were women doing men’s jobs. They were detectives going undercover and capturing the bad guy themselves with zero help from their male counterparts. Plus, the Angels were breathtaking. Farrah was gorgeous, Jaclyn was gorgeous, Kate was gorgeous.
Who was your favorite Angel?
My favorite Angel was Cheryl Ladd. When she came on during the second season, she played Kris Munroe, Jill’s little sister. Kris is and always will be my favorite Angel.
Has the public perception of the show changed over time?
I don’t think it really has changed much, they were strong women, they were girl power, they kicked ass. Charlie’s Angels were definitely TV mainstream female heroines. It was really the chemistry, just that lightning in the bottle that can never be redone. It’s like the TV show Friends, you can try to do Friends again but there’s no way you can do Friends again. I mean Charlie’s Angels is just an iconic show.
How do the films of the early 2000s and the most recent reboot fit into the Charlie’s Angels canon?
Well, the first movie with Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu did a really great job with paying homage to the original series and which made a really good first film. I actually worked a little bit on the production in a “tiny” part of being a consultant. I also auditioned for the film for Natalie’s boyfriend which I obviously did not get the role. I was in the room with Producers Drew Barrymore, Leonard Goldberg and Director McG looking at original Charlie’s Angels cast pictures.They really wanted to get the essence of the original TV series look and style.The film also did a few nice things in the movie like the “I’m not a yo-yo “scene and lots of costumes that were very reminiscent of the original series.
Flash forward to the second movie, Charlie’s Angels Full Throttle, which became way more like a computer game or something. The Angels were jumping into flying helicopters and hadsuperpoweraction scenes and all these other unbelievable stunts.
Then flash forward to the 2011 TV series which was horrific.The series changed everybody, all the Angels had criminal backgrounds and were not very angelic.The series really reminded me of what Leonard Goldberg originally wanted to with his concept “The Alley Cats”; his original idea of Charlie’s Angels before Kate Jackson was bought in to create Charlie’s Angels. In “The Alley Cats” the characters were criminals, they wore leather and used whips and stuff!Charlie’s Angels (2011) only lasted eight episodes.Then Elizabeth Banks’ Charlie’s Angels (2019) movie which was a misfire and box-office disaster.
Why was that film such a misfire?
First off, there were 14Bosley’sin the film and the story got all jumbled. What got me was the opening scene where there were all these women fighting the bad guys who all were to be Angels.I was like “Who are all these women?”The the film only focused on the new three Angels, yet these Angels were not even in a trio until the end of the movie. The Angels did not even like each other for most of the film.The writing was horrific. There were so many bad things about that movie. I wish the production would have asked Kate Jackson or even me for some advice.
How did you go from being a mere fan to being the pre-eminent Angels historian and curator?
Way back in the 90s I started re-collecting Charlie’s Angels memorabilia. I was a collector when I was a kid when I didn’t know what collecting was, I just collected everything I could get my hands on. When I got older, I threw some of my stuff away, which I still regret today!
When I arrived to Los Angeles in early 90’s, I went to a party where the host collected TV celebrity dolls.That is where I saw them… the Charlie’s Angels dolls! I was like, “I want those!” Then I just started collecting Charlie’s Angels stuff. There was no eBay, so you got TOY SHOP magazine and you’d circle things you wanted, grabbed your phone and called long distance to ask, “hey can I buy this?”Then, you would send a check. Collecting then was really a hunt.
How was it publishing a newsletter and running a fan website in the earliest days of the internet?
Creating the newsletter and then the website was a blast.I got the scoop on the actresses upcoming projects and let the world know.Plus, I got to see most of the films, go to premieres, and get VHS or products before everyone else! The fun of it was and still today is sharing the heavenly news with the world.
It was 1995 and I asked my fellow Charlie’s Angels collectors if there was a fan club for the series and the answer was no. So, I thought, I’ll start one and I did. It was pretty easy in 1995. I sat down and wrote my first Angelic Heaven Newsletter. It was a one-page newsletter that went out. It then became four pages and the four pages became a fanzine. People around the world were sending me twelve dollars for a year subscription.
I created CharliesAngels.com at the cusp of the internet.In 1996, the website started and it was reaching so many more fans. It was incredible!
Was there a point where it just became overwhelming running the site and the newsletter?
I don’t think I ever felt like it was too big to handle. When Yahoo.com chose CharliesAngels.com as the site of the day, that was pretty amazing, because it blew the website off the server. The site was down for a day and a half. I had to strike a deal with the hosting site to get more space on their servers.After that national attention, I started being asked for interviews for TV and newspapers.
Were the Angels already aware of who you were when you met them?
Yes, because their agents received the newsletter. Most of them had heard of the Newsletter.Their agents and publicist would send me updates for stories in the newsletter.
What is Charlie’s Angels’ connection with West Hollywood?
Well first off, a couple things with me: I’ve been a West Hollywood resident for about 30 years and published the newsletter at Charlie Chan’s when that was around on Santa Monica Blvd. It was a locally published newsletter/fanzine here in West Hollywood, and of course the website is still here because I still live in WEHO.I love being a West Hollywood resident! The best city in my book.
What does the future hold for the franchise?
Hopefully another movie, but I don’t think that’s in the future after the box-office failure of the last film. Who knows, never say never. I just wish when they do a movie or a TV show they actually call Kate Jackson or even me to help them.You can change things with a remake, but if you don’t keep with the original bible of the series, it’s doomed. Look at the reboot of Hawaii 5-0 which is a good example. That series was a very successful remake. When they brought back The Bionic Woman, the show was too dark, and that’s not what it’s about. I mean, if you’re going to do something like that, call it something else because people want nostalgia and they want to watch what they remember in some way. If you don’t keep with the bible, it’s hard.
Tell us about the anniversary.
Charlie’s Angels is celebrating its 45th Anniversary this month on September 22, 2021.In celebrating, I having a live chat with Cheryl Ladd on Sept. 21, on CharliesAngels.com Facebook Page.I also released a new book, ANGELIC HEAVEN: 25 years of Charlie’s Angels News, which can be purchased on Amazon.com.The book is about the history of how I created the newsletter and website.The book is a fun remembrance and celebration of something that’s been going so long and is so ingrained in my world. I never never thought I’d be talking about Charlie’s Angels for this long!But I’m one lucky man!