Alison La Placa is a gifted comic actress who has been working steadily since the early '80s, including starring roles in several highly anticipated (but ultimately unsuccessful) television series. Born in New Jersey in 1959 and raised in Lincolnshire, IL, a suburb outside of Chicago, La Placa set her sights on an entertainment career and trained in musical theater. As a practical matter, however, her career has been much more oriented toward comedy, which she describes as being essentially musical theater without the music. Her first shot at stardom came in 1983, at age 23, when she portrayed Elyse in the television pilot spin-off of Barry Levinson's feature film Diner. That series failed to sell, and her subsequent work included parts in Fletch (1985) and Voyage of the Rock Aliens (1988). She also made appearances on Cheers and Remington Steele, and by the second half of the 1980s, she had found her firm niche in television, starting with the series Duet (1987) on the FOX network, which led to a starring role on the short-lived FOX series Open House (1989). After being cast in a few more failed series, including The Jackie Thomas Show (1992) and Tom (1994, in which she played Tom Arnold's wife), La Placa finally found success when she joined the cast of The John Larroquette Show in 1994. Since then, La Placa's most memorable work was seen on the 1997 season of the series Friends, as Rachel's boss Joanna, whose involvement with Matthew Perry's Chandler -- including a ferociously funny performance in the episode "The One With the 'Cuffs" -- led to some delightful comedic situations. With those credits behind her, La Placa bids fair to be seen in television comedy for years to come.
~ Bruce Eder, All Movie Guide