Desperate Housewives panel: Five years older, and surprisingly dull - TCA Report
by Joel Keller, posted Jul 18th 2008 10:34AM
Thanks to Marc Cherry and Shonda Rhimes, the ABC show-runner panel was a good way to start the afternoon. Unfortunately, things went downhill from there, as the panels for Dirty Sexy Money, Private Practice, and Desperate Housewives were surprisingly dull, especially considering the fact that Cherry and Rhimes returned for the DH and Practice panels, respectively.
Even something Cherry said that seemed like it would be news -- that he's going to end DH after the seventh season -- turned out to be old hat, as he announced the very same thing at the Winter 2007 tour. "Yeah, I've made the decision that after seven years, I will probably keel over in a hump and die," he said. "I love my baby, you know. I love working with these gals, but the idea of letting anyone else take the show from me kind of makes me sad and sick to my stomach."A voice from the back of the room said "not gonna happen." Of course, it was ABC Entertainment president Steve McPherson, who helped develop the show when he was at ABC Studios and knows a golden egg when he sees one.
Moving the show forward five years was a chance for the show to "reset," a word uttered a lot during the ABC sessions. "You know, the soap tends to build up and, you know, I wanted to get back to where we were that very first season, where it's just the problems of some ordinary women and they were small and relatable," said Cherry.
Everyone seemed to be thrilled with the decision to move the show forward five years. Cherry and co-show-runner Bob Daily joked that they were going to move the show forward seven years, but "we (the writing staff) talked him down from seven, and then we countered with three and ended up with five eventually." Essentially, the writers half-jokingly didn't want to tell the cast that they'd be aging seven years. Marcia Cross' reaction: "Five years, seven years... who cares?"
Cherry, for some reason, decided to take over control of the press conference, and when someone asked the panel what they think their strength was, he made sure each star answered the question. Nice of him to be so fair, but with six co-stars on stage, the answers chewed up a significant portion of the press conference. Maybe after the minor fireworks from the show-runner panel, he decided that filibustering was a good idea.
But he did give us a nice speech when someone wondered why Eva Longoria Parker's character, Gaby, who now has two kids and a blind husband, was being portrayed as frumpy and pudgy. "What about all the hot moms?" was the question. Cherry felt that the fact that Gaby would let herself go a bit was a natural thing. He then elicited groaning laughter with the statement, "As far as an insult to moms, have you been to the Midwest?"
But he recovered nicely, citing his Oklahoma upbringing and the fact this aunts watch the show and that moms from his home state would be "insulted" by the images from the show, thinking they set up too-high expectations. Also, it dismayed him that the best actresses for the part made for a glamorous cast. "I literally spent four years going, 'I think there's some real stories about real women suffering that I haven't told because I have the most gorgeous cast in the history of TV,' and I think there's women out there who go, 'Cannot one of them have a weight problem, damn it? Because I have a weight problem.'"
After the panel, I went up to Cherry and asked him if he thinks the traditional sitcom is dead. He should know, because he spent many years on The Golden Girls but couldn't get a job for a long time. He wrote the DH pilot on spec, something that's usually not done, while he was over $30,000 in debt. He also answered a reporter's question's about the "reset" trend.
Marc Cherry on the state of the sitcom and more (5:54)