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Kristin Chenoweth on Studio 60, Jeff Probst, and her Daisies song request - AUDIO

by Joel Keller, posted Aug 2nd 2008 9:02AM
Kristin ChenowethOne of my favorite parts of the summer press tour was the last day, mainly because a busload of critics got to go to the Warner Bros. lot and tour sets from ER, Chuck, and Pushing Daisies (we also saw the Dollhouse set on the Fox lot later that day).

On the Pie Hole set of Daisies, for instance, all the stars and producers were available for interviews. Kristin Chenoweth held court right outside the pie-shaped diner's entrance, sporting a splint on her right hand from a recent bat bite (I kid you not... wonder what scene they were shooting at the time). But I was there to ask her about how she felt about being the model for Harriet Hayes on Studio 60 two years ago. And she was very candid about the situation,especially in light of the fact that her former (and current?) boyfriend, S60 creator Aaron Sorkin, never was.

First, though, a question about Jeff Probst; Chenoweth dropped the tidbit that the two of them dated when she announced his Emmy nomination the week before. Audio is after the jump.

Kristin Chenoweth on dating Jeff Probst (0:41)

Now, on to S60, which was alluded to by another reporter at the end of the previous clip (and, as you heard, goaded on by me). Did she recognize pieces of their her and Sorkin's relationship in the relationship between Matt Albie (Matthew Perry) and Harriet Hayes (Sarah Paulson)? "Recognize? Yeah!" she laughed. Then, in her light Southern drawl, she explained the genesis of the character. "He asked me if it would be ok to have a character based on me." She agreed to it because she figured it would be only loosely based on her. "A lot of it was very loose, and some of it wasn't."

When the show was on the air and struggling to find an audience, Sorkin always skirted claims by critics that the show was a kind of roman à clef that paralleled their relationship, even though he's admitted that Hayes was based on Chenoweth. "I don't know why he did that," Chenoweth said. "I can't speak about that. I just know that some of the things that happened in my life were on the show, and I do a really good Nancy Grace (an impression Harriet did), and I sing a lot of Gilbert and Sullivan, and I did do the PTL show. So, if you watch Studio 60, you can make your own (conclusion).

"It wasn't a bone of contention at all," she continued. "It might appear that way, but not at all. What was frustrating was that it was taken from my life, but not exactly. For example, (Harriet) was kind of iffy on gay rights," something Cheoweth was not. "I'd have to go on my website, because people were like, 'Ban her concerts!', and say 'But that's not me! At all!'"

The week before, Sorkin accompanied Chenoweth to the ABC all-star party, setting the surrounding crowds abuzz with speculation that they were back together. One reporter noted to Chenoweth that Sorkin was a complete gentleman during the party. "He's precious," she said in a semi-serious manner. When I asked her if the two of them were back together, she refused to say, upping the chirpy Southernness to say, "I don't talk about my private life!" She would say that Sorkin "acted like a really good friend that night, like he was just proud of me. It was really cool."

I did ask Chenoweth one question about Daisies: What song would she like to sing on the show this year? The answer was interesting:

Kristin Chenoweth on what she wants to sing on Daisies this year (0:16)

"Eternal Flame." Interesting. When I mentioned that to series creator Bryan Fuller, he said that "we're going to work it in somewhere. She sang it on a little... she's recording an album, so she sang it and sent it to me."

There's your "scoop" folks. The Bangles being sung on Pushing Daisies. Sounds like a good fir, doesn't it?

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Why blame Sorkin for Harriet Hayes on "Studio 60" being so unsympathetic and unlikeable? He is a good writer, and may have intentionally set out to make her unlikeable, but writing is only part of this. You've got to give a good chunk of the blame to the actress, Sarah Paulson.

August 02 2008 at 1:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Scott's comment

I think the writing on Studio 60 was kind of lame for Sorkin and rehashed from bad movies. He does like reusing lines / storylines, but it felt he didn't know what to do with Studio 60.

However you are completely right, everyone else on the show did a wonderful job with the scripts given, and the character was just horribly miss-casted.

August 02 2008 at 7:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm a huge Aaron Sorkin fan, but I gotta tell ya ... if Harriet Hayes was based on Kristen Chenoweth, then Sorkin did a terrible job writing the character.

Hayes was unsympathetic (and obviously, controversial, though I never really got that) and unlikeable. Chenoweth is a media and masses darling who can do no wrong. There's a huge disconnect there.

Anyway, thanks the audiobits Joel. I assume the stuff about Probst is just joking when y'all use the word "date", as last we knew, Probst is still married to a former Survivor, yes?

August 02 2008 at 10:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to David's comment

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