13080 fans currently online (279 members and 12801 guests)
Hobnobbing with the Housewives When columnist Larry Carroll recently headed down to Disney’s California Adventure, he got the lowdown on an ABC-TV show that would have made Walt blush. By Larry Carroll
They burn down houses, sleep with the hired help, mow the lawn in the middle of the night, and make sure their guns are finely polished before they raise them to their temples. These aren’t the mothers and spouses you remember from your childhood in the suburbs. They are the Desperate Housewives, a sexy, conniving, ruthless crew who will be taking over their idyllic little cul-de-sac (and ABC) when the critically-acclaimed show premieres this Sunday at 9/8 Central.
In an exclusive sit-down with FilmStew, stars Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Eva Longoria, Ricardo Chavira and Nicolette Sheridan discussed their excitement over getting a truly original show on network television, their love of the writing, and their desire to make these despicable characters the focus of water cooler discussion for seasons to come.
“There’s never been anything like it on television,” insists Longoria, a young actress who’s happy to embrace her Latino spiciness for the role of adulteress Gabrielle Solis. “People say that all the time about this show. There’s never been anything that captures this aspect of life, this suburbia.”
“It’s such a mixture of Stepford Wives, Sex and the City and American Beauty and Six Feet Under – it encompasses a lot,” she adds. “It takes the best things of a lot of shows and puts them in one. It’s a dark comedy that has mystery and it has all the ingredients to make interesting television.”
TV veteran Hatcher, who recently revealed that she’s been taking stripper classes to buff up her body for the show, concurs. “That’s what makes it rare and special. There are some other good programs coming on television, and I don’t want to beat them up, but it’s rare to find a good piece of material on television and this is one of them this year.”
In the scintillating first episode, Hatcher’s Susan Mayer begins to grow a conscience after one of her best friends commits suicide in the show’s opening moments. Looking around her, she begins to see her friends – the Martha Stewart-esque Bree (Marcia Cross), the discontented Lynette (Huffman), and the seemingly careless Gabrielle - in a different light. Wanting to change things for herself and her teenage daughter, she sets her sights on a single guy who just moved on to the street as her first step back into the dating world.
“Her husband left her several years ago, so she’s a single Mom with a twelve-year-old girl who hasn’t really recovered from the failure of her marriage and the rejection and the shattering of her fantasy,” says Hatcher. “My character is having a life I didn’t anticipate having and I’m trying to move beyond that and become trusting enough to let somebody in.”
The problem is, someone else wants to let him in as well, and that someone is a delightfully easy blonde named Edie Britt. Sheridan, who plays Britt with a fierce sexiness that will make you love to hate her, says that she’s delighted with being the most desperate of all the girls.
“I love her naughtiness,” remarks the actress. “It’s always fun to play the little terror of the show. When people see Edie coming, they panic. Desperate Housewives is a very dark comedy, and there are a lot of truths – it’s touching and it’s weird and it’s funny and it’s witty.”
“Edie is just this libidinous, funny, out there, great character that’s so much fun to play.”
The beautiful Sheridan may get all the attention on the show’s posters and commercials, but those who’ve seen Desperate Housewives are already buzzing over the performance of Huffman, whose sassy matriarch seems to be a character Emmy voters could grow to love. The actress and real-life housewife of actor William H. Macy says that she loves playing someone who doesn’t take any guff.
“She’s a mother of four,” Huffman explains. “She had a high-power corporate job and got pregnant with twins and decided to become a stay at home Mom. I think her desperateness comes from raising four kids under the age of six and trying to find your identity in motherhood when all you’ve known of it is through being a businesswoman.”
Huffman, who has made a career out of working with such legendary wordsmiths as David Mamet and Aaron Sorkin, says that the strength of the show is its innovative scripts. “Why is any show ever good?” she asks. “Because of the writing; if it’s on the page, it’s on the stage.”
“Mark Cherry wrote a brilliant script,” raves Huffman. “It’s a new tone, it’s drama, it’s comedy it’s heightened reality, it’s funny, it’s sexy, it’s wicked, it’s all of these things. That’s why it’s great.”
Chavira, who plays Longoria’s clueless husband on the show, is impressed with the HBO-like commitment ABC has shown to the atypical Sunday night fare. “It’s a big risk that I think ABC is taking, but a good risk,” she says. “They’re putting a foot in the right direction by trying to do shows that are a little riskier. The topics are riskier, and so are the themes, and I think that’s something all the networks will go through at some point.”
“It’s always tricky to do the dance of censorship,” agrees Longoria, “particularly after the Nipple Gate fiasco with Janet Jackson. You can’t even say, ‘Screw you’ anymore – everything is scrutinized. I’d rather have sex on TV than violence, and our show is sexy.”
Sexy, mean-spirited and desperate. In a world in which Britney Spears can use that combination to sell fourteen million copies of an album, these housewives ought to do just fine.
The critics like this show which is a good sign. Actually Channel 4 in the UK is well known for getting the best of US TV and they have it now so someone there was impressed.
Here's an article that was in the TV guide of our Sunday paper in Tulsa:
Life on the edge with ‘Desperate Housewives’
By Mike Hughes
Gannett News Service
On an odd day in Oklahoma mismatched ideas — comedy, drama and desperation — swirled in Marc Cherry’s mind.
The result became “Desperate Housewives,” which premieres at 8 p.m. Sunday on ABC, channel 8. It pictures suburbia as a blend of soap opera and situation comedy.
“I thought it was a great script,” says Marcia Cross, one of the stars. “I just thought it was so bizarre.”
For Cherry who wrote it, the show goes back to a strange and startling moment. Visiting his mother, he was watching a TV news story about someone who killed her children.
“I turned to her,” Cherry recalls, “and I said, ‘Gosh, can you imagine a woman being so desperate that she would hurt her own children?’
“And my mother took her cigarette out of her mouth and turned to me and said, ‘I’ve been there.”
Soon, she was telling what it was like to raise three children when their dad was busy with grad school.
“I always thought of my mom as the perfect wife and mother,” Cherry recalls. “I was astounded. And suddenly, it occurred to me: “Well, gosh, if my mom has these moments, every woman has had a moment where she’s close to losing it.”
Cherry has produced some sitcoms that the world ignored, including “Some of My Best Friends” and “The Five Mrs. Buchanans.” Then the sitcom market crumbled (thanks to
reality). As hourlong dramas grew, the former “Golden Girls” scribe decided to write an hour that looked like a drama but had comedy touches.
Shot on a Universal backlot , “Housewives” shares the outlook of “American Beauty” and “Stepford Wives.”
One character is Lynette Scavo, once a successful executive and now a frazzled, stay- at-home mother living in an affluent suburb. Felicity Huffman, who, in real life, has two children under the age of 5 with her husband, actor William H. Macy, plays her. Huffman objects to the notion that every stay-at-home mom must seem contented.
“It enrages me that there’s one way to be a mother in America,” Huffman says. “If you’re fulfilled, fantastic. But if you’re not, that also has to be OK.”
The others key characters are:
— Susan Mayer, a divorced mom. She’s played by Teri Hatcher, the “Lois 8t Clark” star, who is also a single mom in real life to 6- year-old daughter, Emerson.
— Gabrielle Solis, a former model who gets expensive jewelry from her husband and sex from her teenage gardener. She’s played by Eva Longoria, who has had little primetime experience beyond “L.A. Dragnet,” which was a mixed blessing. “It was boring as an actress to be a cop,” Longoria says.
— Edie Britt, the neighborhood seductress. She’s played by Nicollette Sheridan, who has played a seductress on “Knots Landing” and other shows.
— Bree Van De Kamp, the most desperate of all. She’s an obsessive-compulsive housewife, having major troubles with her husband and their three children.
Marcia Cross (who has visited this sort of loony land before on “Meirose Place” as Dr. Kimberly Shaw) plays Bree. “Kimberly was psychotic,” Cross says. “Bree is just very neurotic.
Make that very, very neurotic. She keeps tidying while her world collapses.
“She operates in an uncomfortable place,” Cross says. “Most of us are like that some time.”
In real life, Cross offers no hint of desperation.
“I grew up in an idyllic neighborhood,” she says. She has lots of serious credits — The Juilliard School as a drama major, Williamstown Theater Festival, etc. — and that one wacky “Melrose” role.
She even’ paused recently to get a master’s degree in psychology. “I need to have new stimuli in my life,” she said.
Then she was re-stimulated by good shows. Last season, she was Dr. Linda Abbott on “Everwood”; now she’s Bree, who can dust a collapsing household.
Cherry says that’s based on his own mom, who calmly took her husband to the hospital whenever he had a heart attack (which was often). One time, she made the bed before leaving.
“I remember saying to her, ‘Daddy’s waiting to be taken to the hospital.’ And she said, ‘Well, it’s the start of my day.’ And she just did the little crease under the pillows.”
TV World, Oct. 3, 2004