Drop Dead Diva Margaret Cho interview, and ask the Art department a question!
By April MacIntyre Jun 2, 2010, 23:12 GMT
Drop Dead Funny, courtesy of Lifetime
Lifetime's "Drop Dead Diva" features stars Brooke Elliott, Margaret Cho, Jackson Hurst, Kate Levering, April Bowlby, Josh Stamberg and Ben Feldman.
The second season will feature 13 new episodes which premieres on June 6th at 9:00 p.m. on Lifetime.
Currently in production in Atlanta, "Drop Dead Diva’s" season two opener will feature Paula Abdul reprising her role as “Judge Paula Abdul,” a figment of Jane’s subconscious who empowers her in a dream sequence choreographed by So You Think You Can Dance’s Keith “Tyce” Diorio. Devon Gummersall and David Denman return as guest stars this season. .
In the first season, we meet a beautiful-but-vapid model wannabe Deb, suddenly in front of Heaven’s gatekeeper, Fred (Feldman), following a fatal car crash.
Outraged by her sudden demise, she attempts to persuade Fred to return her to her shallow existence but is accidentally relegated to the body of the recently deceased Jane Bingum (Elliott).
An intelligent, thoughtful and plus-size attorney with a loyal assistant, Teri (Cho), Jane has always lived in the shadow of her colleagues whereas Deb has always relied on her external beauty.
Fate and divine intervention make Deb come to terms with inhabiting Jane’s fuller frame, learning to reconcile her beauty queen ways with her brilliant, new mind.
April Bowlby stars as “Stacy Barrett”, the best friend and roommate to Deb/Jane. A struggling model herself, Stacy is the link between Deb’s past and her present and serves as the support Jane needs to navigate her future.
At the close of last season, Deb was ready to let go of her past and embrace her new life as Jane. But the unexpected arrival of Jane’s “secret” husband Ethan (Gummersall) at her doorstep left the show and Jane in the lurch.
Jane may also be disbarred after breaching client-attorney confidentiality when, against the firm’s advisement, she reported her client for fraud. Faced with a new love triangle and the uncertainty of her career, "Drop Dead Diva" delivers great story on a stylish set with a cracking cast of players.
Some of the guest stars throughout the first season of "Drop Dead Diva" included Abdul, Liza Minnelli, Rosie O’Donnell, Tim Gunn, Delta Burke, Nia Vardalos, Kathy Najimy, Jorja Fox, Elliott Gould and Gregory Harrison.
Josh Berman is creator and executive producer. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are executive producers.
Filmed in Georgia, "Drop Dead Diva" shines below the line with an outstanding art department that decorates Jane's Law offices and apartment to perfection. Series Production Designers Keith Neely worked on the films "Mr.and Mrs. Smith" and with Tony Scott on "Domino." Art director Korey Washington recently worked on the film "Stomp the Yard 2" and set decorator Amy McGary also worked on "We Are Marshall" and "Drumline."
Together these art department pros dress Jane's world and make a beautiful set to watch the story unfold.
Monsters and Critics will be running production stills and set shots from the art department crew, and if you have any questions, talk back below and we will ask the Production Designer to answer your questions!
Drop Dead Diva's Margaret Cho plays Jane's assistant, Teri Lee, on the series. Monsters and Critics was on a call with Margaret and dished about what's to come for Jane and the Diva Gang:
Question: How did you learn about Drop Dead Diva?
Margaret Cho: Well, I was working on my album doing music stuff. I've been working on it for a couple of years now. One of the songwriters that I write with, his name is Jay Brannon, and I went to go see him after we had a long writing session. I went to go see him and he was performing.
Josh Berman was in the audience. Josh Berman came up to me at the show and was telling me about his project Drop Dead Diva. I like Josh a lot and I wasn't sure about the project. I hadn't heard anything about it, and the next day my agent called me and sent me the script.
Then I went in to meet with Josh the next day. I was immediately cast in the role of Teri. I was the first person cast in the show. He had envisioned the role for me in the first place, so it was kind of an amazing coincidence that we ran into at the show that night.
So it was a really great thing. I made the pilot. I was just really in love with the whole project. I thought it was such a great show. I really thought Brooke was an incredible actor. So it just all kind of came together. It all happened because I was working on my album.
Question What keeps challenging you about this role?
Margaret Cho Well, I keep finding out new things about the character as things develop. So this year, I find out that my character is a singer, which I open the second season with a big music and dance number which is a lot of fun. I also have a soundtrack song. I made a record this year called Cho Dependent which will be out in August, and one of the songs that I wrote that didn't make it on the album I put on the soundtrack record. So I made part of the soundtrack as well so that's a lot of fun, too.
Question: What's been your favorite scene to shoot so far?
M. Cho: I think my favorite scene was doing the big song and dance number just because it opens up season two in a very spectacular way. I love singing and so that's kind of my new thing. So it's fun to be able to do that on a TV show, and then to be dancing and doing it at the same time is really fabulous. So that was my favorite so far.
Question What are the main similarities and differences between you and the character, Teri?
M. Cho: I think the main similarities I think that she has, well she's the oldest one, that I feel for sure. I'm the oldest one in the whole cast and the oldest character. I think, you know, we probably have the same sensibility here, the same sense of humor, and this season you get to meet my family.
So you get to see my mother, who is also in my real life a very strong presence, so that's really, really fun … into my character's life. The differences are I don't work in an office. I've never worked in an office. I don't even know how to work in an office, although my character and myself we both type very, very quickly. So that I can say we both share that trait.
Question How did Teri get so snarky?
M. Cho I think that the character was written – sometimes I think a lot of the characters developed between my conversations just with Josh Berman and hanging out and things that I've said and done, they wind up in script. I don't find her particularly snarky.
She's kind of like, you know, in a sense what she reminds me of is kind of like an old, like an office crone. It's real like kind of a character out of a Nine to Five or something, you know. She is just a fun gal who has been around that place forever, and she knows everything, and so I'm kind of the source for information, but I guess it comes with a price.
Question: Hypothetically if you're in a spot like Jane, how would you handle that? Or what kind of fun would you have with that situation?
M. Cho: Well, I think that if I was in that kind of an amazing situation or amazing circumstance, I would really enjoy having this whole new brain and have this whole new area of expertise. What's wonderful about the character and about the show is that she really is much better off as Jane than she was as Deb, because as Deb her world view was pretty limited and it was very selfish. But with Jane she is such a magnanimous character, you know she has a very big heart and a very big mission to save the world. So I think that is a really wonderful thing. So I would be enjoying all of the great expanse of that that I am.
Question: What guest stars will we see this season?
M. Cho: Well, this season is really great. We open up the series with Paula Abdul in our fantastic dance sequence which is pretty phenomenal. What was really fun is that the whole rehearsal process, you know, we were dancing with the choreographer from …
I think it's such a great thing. We have all these dancers, like real dancers, surrounding you and you're really like going for it. We were all in rehearsal with Paula, and it just felt like that video, Cold Hearted Snake. I don't know if you've ever seen that. It's an old Paula Abdul video. It was really cool. So just kind of going into that world was so fun. I don't know. That was my favorite guest star.
This week we have the fabulous Cybill Shepherd, who I absolutely adore. Ricki Lake came and joined us. We have just have had amazing, amazing people. Rosie O'Donnell is back as a regular, which is a lot of fun. So we're very lucky.
Question: Does everyone on set expect you to be the funny one who keeps everyone entertained between takes?
M. Cho: Well everybody's really funny. I mean the whole cast is really, really hilarious. My favorite is probably Ben Feldman. Ben Feldman is so hilarious and adorable, and I look at him and I think that is the son that I would have if I was old enough to have him and I was inclined to have children and also was Jewish.
He is really, really a fantastic guy and somebody who I really just, I am so just in admiration and in love with him. He always makes me laugh like crazy. Everybody in the cast has really got a great sense of humor, and we have a lot of fun together.
Question: What has been your most memorable experience meeting a fan of Drop Dead Diva?
M. Cho I think what's so remarkable about the fans of the show they really, really identify with the character of Jane, and they really are in love with the story. I think my favorite experience so far with meeting fans and talking about the show was that we did a big screening of it and a Q&A for the Paley Center in Los Angeles, and it was a very prestigious event where they talked about the show and broke it down.
The audience was all fans and it was so great to see people so excited to meet the cast and so excited about the show and hear Josh Berman, who is the show’s creator, talk about the genesis of the show, how he thought about it, and how he created it, and that. They were excited, you know, that was really, really cool. So I was really thrilled to be a part of that.
Question: Sometimes the word diva can have a negative connotation. How would you define that word? How would you define diva?
M. Cho: Diva to me is always positive because I come from kind of a long line of divas and working with divas. I have worked with Cyndi Lauper who is of course without question a diva.
I have worked with Rosie O'Donnell who is also a great diva. To me diva never has a negative connotation. It's always positive. It always means somebody who is strong and grand and powerful and important. You know somebody that is the center and star of the show to the depth of their being. So I always look at diva as a good thing. It's a good word.
Question: Has it been hard for you to adjust to filming in Georgia when you're an L.A. girl?
M. Cho: Well, it's a little bit tough because I'm away from my family, and I'm away from my husband, and away from my dogs. The dog business is the hardest part. But, I get to visit a lot, and a lot of back and forth. It's just a life that I'm used to because I'm always on the road anyway.
I've been on the road as a standup comic for 20 years. So it's not unusual to be away from home, but it's just unusual to sort of be away from home and living in one place for a long time. So it's a little tough. But I have acclimated, and I have a lot of really good connections here. The cast and I, we're all very close. So that's really fun, but it is hard.
Question: Could you describe what an average day on the set of the show is like? It looks like it would just be so much fun.
M. Cho: An average day, well it's a lot of work. When you make a one-hour show it's a pretty intense thing because you're pretty much making almost like a movie in a week. So it's long hours.
You kind of get there and you sort of get into your character's hair and make-up and wardrobe and then you just go on set. For me, I always eat pizza like all day, that’s my thing. …, like the . . . makes me these pizzas that are made out of English muffins and Ragu.
It's kind of disgusting, but it's kind of great. It's like a real after-school kind of snack. That's how I get through my day because I eat maybe about three or four seriously of these pizzas a day and that's how I make it.
Question: What's the good part about filming in Georgia? What do you like about being down there?
M. Cho: Well, what I love is I really love hanging out with the cast and that's really amazing. All of us go out a lot. We all live in, except for Brooke, who lives in Peachtree City, which is where the show is filmed, the rest of the cast and I, we all live in Atlanta which is about an hour away.
So we're up in the city, and we are out every night at all the different night spots and restaurants. We are all fruities, and Ben Feldman is actually a vintner. He makes wine. So we are all kind of the same mind. We all love to eat, we all love to drink, and we all have a very refined palate.
Atlanta is a fabulous city if you like to eat. So that's a big, big, big thing that we like to do. Also I go to the comedy club here called the Laughing Skull, which is in the Vortex which is a restaurant inside of midtown which is also where we all live. So I'm there probably doing a lot of shows getting ready for my new tour for the next phase of this year in the fall. So I'm there like maybe six or seven times a week, which is a lot.
So there's definitely, like we've created a home for ourselves. Then the cast come and see and my shows all the time. So we are always kind of out. In a way doing the show and living here away from my family and away from kind of familial responsibilities, I have kind of re-ignited my 20s.
All of the cast are in their 20s, so I am acting like I used to act when I was a 20-year-old and hanging out at night and doing shows. So it's given me a lot of youthfulness in a sense. In my L.A. life I live in the Valley and I’d never go out. Here all I do is go out, so it's very different.
Question: What's your favorite episode from season one?
M. Cho: I think my favorite episode from season one was, the closer was so exciting. It was like, what's going to happen? Then she has a husband. It was such a great cliffhanger like you had to, you know, just really hang on for so long to find out what happened. It's resolved so beautifully this year. So it's exciting.
I love Devon Gummersall who plays Ethan, Jane's husband. He is actually somebody I worked with many, many years ago. Not only was he on My So Called Life, which I had another TV show at the time called All American Girl that was on the network and the same season on ABC, and we both ended up not surviving. But I became . . . that cast,… and Devon, and Wilson Cruz of course. So that was a really wonderful thing to see him again on the set of Drop Dead Diva. My favorite was the last episode of last season.
Question: You always push the limits with your standup. How do you try to do that with your character on the show?
M. Cho: Well, it's a little different just because I'm not really writing my character on the show. The way the character is written, it's pretty edgy for the show itself. For television itself, but for me it's not.
I think that it's just the way that I push it, it sort of gets to try to play it in the edgiest way that I can possible I guess. You know, a lot of it is just the character is modifying my own personality to make it work for the show. So, I don't know. It's a different process when you're writing for yourself as opposed to playing something that has to be part of a larger ensemble. So it's a new thing for me and I really enjoy it.
Question: Would you want them to push you a little further, with your character?
M. Cho: Oh, I would love it, but I think it's a little different because the way that the show is written it is kind of light and it is kind of very much a romantic comedy. So it's definitely, the way the character is, it's the edginess of the whole show, but it definitely has to stick within the parameters of a romantic comedy. It's fun, but definitely lighter than what I'm used to doing.
Question: Drop Dead Diva is great in its acceptance of like curvy women and helping to empower women. Why do you think it's so important to say to society for a show like this to be on air?
M. Cho: Well, I think that it's important because we just don't have any images of beautiful, full-figured women, that we don't have role models out there that really look like real people. I think that that is so important, you know. If we have more representations of real-looking women on TV, you would have fewer problems with anorexia and bulimia and all of this that exists within the world today.
I think in a lot of ways because of television, because you have these unnaturally thin ideals of beauty, you are really neglecting a very big section of society that needs to feel like they are important and that they matter, and I think this show really does that. So I am proud of what we are and what we are to women. I am glad that this show is so successful because it's a very important message to have out there.
Question: Who is your dream guest star for the show?
M. Cho: Definitely Kim Kardashian. I think also Madonna, that would be hot.
Also even Courtney Love. That would be fabulous. I just, I was at South by Southwest and I was asked by Skin magazine to introduce Hole, and I was so excited because I love them. So she was really phenomenal. She would be a fabulous guest star for us. I want Cher. That would be really fun, too. Any number of people would be great, great for our show.
Question: Is there any message that you want to send out to anybody who is not watching Drop Dead Diva yet?
M. Cho: People need to watch it. I mean I think it's just such a fun show, and I think it's for everybody. It's for the whole family, and I think it's for people who just want to see something different and something real and I'm really proud of it.
Question: What can women in Hollywood take away from watching the show, what moral values?
M. Cho I think that they can just feel really comfortable with themselves and feel really good about who they are. The show is about celebrating beauty in all sizes and shapes and forms. That's really powerful, and I feel like this is something that's really needed in Hollywood. It's needed everywhere.
Drop Dead Diva on Sunday, June 6th at 9:00 p.m. on Lifetime.
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