A Chat with Courteney Cox, of FX’s ‘Dirt’

FX’s “Dirt” comes back for season two on Sunday, March 2 at 10 p.m. 

This season will be lighter with a ripped from the headlines satirical take on the perils of modern celebrity life.                                              

The show is well-cast and scripted with a crack crew that dresses both Courteney Cox’s character Lucy and her “Dirt” world, both at home and the office, with superb costume and production design.

Cox and her husband David Arquette head up their own robust production company, Coquette Productions which recently turned out the very clever under-the-radar film, “The Tripper,” in which both appeared in as actors.

Cox’s comic sensibilities are high-brow; she understands how to play the camera, and inhabits her character Lucy Spiller – a powerhouse editor for a top tabloid rag – with veracity as she deals out toss-away lines that eviscerate the recipient.

Spiller lives, breathes and eats her position at DirtNow, the magazine she shepherds with her flock of Machiavellian staff writers.  The first season ended with a cliffhanger as jilted TV star Julia Mallory obsessively stalks Spiller and stabs her in retribution for ruining her life and stealing her man Holt.

Cox as Lucy has perfected the “killer Queen” stare for her intended prey along with a tenderness and spot-on chemistry with her loyal and devoted paparazzo Don Konkey (gifted actor Ian Hart). Don is afflicted with Schizophrenia and their shared scenes are scripted with realism and humor; they possess a chemistry that isn’t sexual but is love none the less.

Monsters and Critics had a chance to participate in an interview with other online journalists to ask Courteney all about the “Dirt.”

This season feels a little bit more ripped from the headlines, and we were just curious to know if that was something of a conscious choice, just following the past year of what’s gone on, or if it was just accidental? 

C. Cox No, it’s absolutely a choice.  We thought that would be a good way to just start the season, and it is absolutely ripped from the headlines.  We usually do a hybrid of celebrities and then add to the story like maybe what happened to cause this to happen to them or sum it up in a different way just for fun.  But yes, it’s definitely relatable this year and I think it makes for just a more exciting television show.

Are there any other celebrities, because right now we have some story lines that are a little bit a la Nicole and Paris and David Hasselhoff, are there any other celebrities that we can expect to see something from?  Any little tidbits you can give us on that?

C. Cox Well, there is definitely going to be, in almost every episode you’ll see something that you will recognize, and that’s kind of hopefully the fun of it that you’ll be able to guess who this person we might be talking about, even though it’s not really about them.  It could be about, like I said before, just a couple of people or a couple of situations.  But yes, every episode there is that kind of relatable story line. 

Have any of the celebrities that have been touched upon contacted you guys?

C. Cox No, I don’t think they’ve seen them yet.  We air March 2 and we’ll see.  I think there’s a fine line that the producers, even me as a producer, will take.  We don’t ever intend to hurt anyone.  And as a matter of fact sometimes we make the characters sympathetic just by showing our creative version of what their life must be like or how they got to the place where they did something outrageous.  It’s all in fun.  It’s much lighter this year and it’s funnier, and I don’t think anyone’s going to get upset.  And if they do, that I guess, it wasn’t intentional. 

How do you kind of keep the show grounded and not go too far and not make the characters too out there?  It seems like a show where this must be something you have to think about of making it still relatable.  Do you find that difficult as you go into season two?

C. Cox Well you know you would think that that would be a problem, but really if you just look at any magazine or follow any celebrity that people are fascinated with, they seem to do the outrageous things on their own.  We’ll come up with something that we think “okay, now what’s really shocking,” because we want to make good television.  So obviously we want to shock people.  But then, lo and behold, it ends up happening or something. 

Life is outrageous enough.  I don’t think that we have to worry about making anything seem crazy, because through time if you look at all the tabloids from the last whatever many years it pretty much speaks for itself. 

Do you find that true even for your character, that you don’t have to worry about keeping her grounded because just the world she’s in is out there?

C. Cox Yes, I think that the world of magazines, and I think it’s so competitive that you do have to go to great lengths to get the exclusive story or the perfect picture.  It’s just so competitive. 

So I think that that’s what great about this show and the subject matter, because there are no limits.  You could go anywhere and it wouldn’t be—yes, last year we did some things, which I really loved, where Don Konkey, he cut off his finger to get a story, but that’s because he really was loyal to Lucy.  He’s also a schizophrenic and wasn’t on medication.  I want to be as kind of outrageous but within the realm of reality as possible, and so far it hasn’t proven to be something that’s hard to come up with.

Tell us about this season’s guest stars.

C. Cox We have great guest stars this year.  We don’t have any cast members of Friends, but we do have, Tom Arnold was on and Rosanna Arquette, my sister-in-law, and Vicki Lewis and Sharon Lawrence and Richard Karn, all just really great actors.  And we have recurring role characters and new characters on the show that work in the office.  I think it’s been a great season for just really good actors being on the show.

You said this year’s going to be lighter and funnier.  You seemed to have a great year last year, was there some feedback that made you say we do need to lighten it and funny it a little bit this year? 

C. Cox I think it’s just more making it relatable.  Last year I thought was really interesting, and we had kind of the subject was about the Apocalypse and it was heavier. 

This year we just want it to be a little bit more of a broader appeal.  I think the people who loved Dirt last year will hopefully love it this year, but there will be just more of an audience because the people who read US and In Touch and all those tabloid magazines I think will get a kick out of the show.