Friday, March 2, 2012

Interview: Annie Potts Is a Good Christian B—

Annie Potts, photo by Bob D'Amico/ABC
Unless you've been living under a rock these past few weeks, you know that ABC's new hour-long comedy, soapy drama, "GCB" (short for Good Christian Bitches), is premiering this Sunday, March 4 at 10 p.m. EST. And I am also sure you can probably tell from the promos, that this is a show you don't want to miss. However, I want you to take it from me, as someone who has seen the first two episodes, that you definitely don't want to miss this one. I was thrilled to get to speak with series star Annie Potts ("Designing Women," "Pretty in Pink") recently about her new show, and she is just as thrilled to discuss it as I was to hear about it.

Celebrity Extra: I got to watch the press screener of "GCB" last summer when the network was promoting its new shows, and this show — along with ABC's "Revenge" — was my favorite of all the new series. Now, at long last, "GCB" is finally premiering. Has the wait been hell on you?

Annie Potts: I know! Well, I think that was as much agony as it was, it was a real compliment to us, because I think they’ve been saving us to put us in at just the right moment in time to ensure our success. I think that they think that we are great. They just have a lot of faith and hope in us.

CE: Plus, it's not like it's standard protocol to premiere new shows only in the fall. We now have summer premieres, spring premieres, etc., which really benefits the viewer with more choices. I love that!

AP: Me too. It's different now, like you said, especially with cable and stuff, with things  coming out all the time. I just started watching HBO's "Luck," which is fantastic, and PBS's "Downton Abbey." It's so last century to let everything premier in the same two weeks in September. It's nuts! It’s like the old-style warfare, where it’s like "Charge!" and the first 400 people in line are going to be massacred. There’s a better way to plan this. So, we think it’s a better mousetrap and hopefully will be a big success.

CE: After seeing the show, I cannot picture anyone else in the role of Gigi than you — it seems tailor-made for you and your talents.

AP: Thank you. I appreciate it. I felt the same way when I read it. It was like, “Oh, this is so my role.” Oh come on. Come on. Bobby Harling is an old friend of mine who wrote it — not that he wrote for me. I don’t mean to suggest that. He and I kind of came up around the same people, and he had, I think from the start, enormous confidence that I was going to be able to pull off Gigi in a way that was aligned with his vision of her. It has been really fun.

"GCB" stars Miriam Shor as Cricket Caruth-Reilly, Mark Deklin as Blake Reilly, Jennifer Aspen as Sharon Peacham, Leslie Bibb as Amanda Vaughn, Annie Potts as Gigi Stopper, Brad Beyer as Zack Peacham, David James Elliott as Ripp Cockburn, Kristin Chenoweth as Carlene Cockburn and Marisol Nichols as Heather Cruz. (ABC/BOB D'AMICO)
CE: I like that Gigi isn't your typical meddling mom. Everything she does for her child and grandchildren, you can see the motive of love behind it.

AP: Well, that’s kind of come out in the doing of her. I’m a mother myself, and sometimes mothers get a bad rap just because they’ve tried to do their job. Some people have more of a knack for it than others do, but almost all of it falls to, “My mother’s suffocating me.” Whatever. Its like: “Buck up. I’m the one who wiped your behind and put your meals on the table so I’m going to have a say about your life. Accept it.”

CE: What do you like about Gigi, and how do you relate to her as a mom?

AP: I love her great zest for life. She’s been alone for 18 years. But she hasn’t felt sorry for herself. Bobby Harling specializes in writing women who have tremendous depth — I mean, he is the "Steel Magnolias" guy! Gigi just has a real knack for life. 

I have lovingly borrowed from book of Dixie Carter for this. If she were she still alive, the role would have been hers and should have been, but since she took the early leave I just decided to play it like her. I think that she would approve. Dixie was sensationally beautiful, religious, Republican, conservative and had two daughters whom she worshipped. She always had stockings on, and she was just immaculately groomed all the time. Even if I went over to her house early in the morning, she always looked good — and she was always in the pew on Sunday. I think that’s the way Gigi is.

CE: While "GCB" is hilarious and fun, hour-long escape, I do love that it talks about hypocrisy of certain people, especially those who claim to be Christian but then don't act very Christianly toward their neighbor.

AP: It’s a great format to talk about hypocrisy. It’s tailor-made for that. Just the idea of Texas is an iconic one all over the world. They think Texas is synonymous with America. We’re big, we’re garish; it’s a cock-of-the-walk kind of thing. Texas has always represented America.  

Somebody was saying the other day that there was a migrant pygmy tribe in Africa that waited for its annual migration an extra two or three days so they could find out who shot J.R. 

Of course, it’s always fun when the rich get made fun of. Most of us think, “If we just had money, everything would be great.” And this proves, well, maybe not. And that makes everybody feel better. And that’s what entertainment is supposed to be — this is just flat-out entertaining.

CE: What is it like working with all those great people you have on the show?

AP: Everybody on the show is so talented and so relatable, and of course Kristin Chenoweth is a national treasure. Kristin has turned me on to "Toddlers and Tiaras." I watch it for acting tips — I like the women’s devotion to their daughters. It’s going to come out later that my character has been someone who trained people for pageants. So I have watched that to just see what happens in that world. And now, I am devoted to "Toddlers and Tiaras."

My hairdresser the other day asked me, “Oh, have you seen 'Revenge'?” and I said, “I haven’t seen that yet.” And she said: “Honey, it’s like peanut butter. It’s delicious.” And I believe that our show will thought to be delicious too. But maybe something more on the lines of peach cobbler.

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