'Desperate Housewives' Season 7 Preview: Vanessa Williams Talks About Her New Wisteria Lane Diva
by Kim Potts, posted Sep 24th 2010 5:30PM
There's no major time jump for the seventh season of 'Desperate Housewives,' but when Vanessa Williams' new diva, Renee Perry, sashays into town in the Sept. 26 season premiere (9PM ET, ABC), the Wisteria Lane women may wish they could travel back to a pre-Renee time.
Because, not totally unlike her famous 'Ugly Betty' character, Wilhelmina Slater, Renee is a major diva. And she comes to town to reconnect with old college pal Lynette (Felicity Huffman) -- or so she says. The two are probably better described as frenemies and their relationship is a contentious one that includes lots of clever little jabs at each other.
But Lynette soon learns that Renee has actually come to Wisteria Lane to start over, because her perfect, glamorous life as the wife of a professional baseball player isn't so perfect after all.
And Renee is going to tangle with some other Wisteria Lane residents, namely Bree (Marcia Cross), when they both have their eye on a rather handsome, prone-to-being-shirtless handyman played by 'Beverly Hills 90210' alum Brian Austin Green.
Williams, who wrapped a run in 'Sondheim on Sondheim' on Broadway earlier this year, has already filmed several episodes as the newest Wisteria Lane resident, and she talked to AOL's TV Squad earlier this week about what can expect to see as she becomes the newest kid on the block.
I read something that referred to Renee as the fifth housewife, which I thought was really funny after watching the premiere ... she's anything but the "fifth" anything. She really makes her presence felt right away, no?
Oh good! I mean, honestly, I haven't gotten the screener for the first episode yet, so I haven't seen it all cut together, but I'm happy to hear it's strong and makes an impact ... that's great!
Particularly Renee's entrance, in the limo. It tells you a lot about what you need to know about the character ...
(Laughing) I know that they wanted to make the entrance of Renee special and unique, and you know, starting with the shoes coming out of the limo door opening ... I'm glad that you got that from the scene, because they worked hard on making sure that she makes an impact right away.
How would you describe Renee, if you had to give a one or two-sentence description of her, to someone who hadn't seen her at all yet?
She's a passive-aggressive, nouveau riche sports celebrity's wife, who has a lot of aspirations and is an outsider trying to settle in the suburban environment where she's chosen to start her new life.
And why is she starting over on Wisteria Lane?
I think she, now that she's reconnected with Lynette ... I think it's (about) starting a new life. She's never done the suburban thing. Even though she doesn't have children, and really has no desire at all to have children, it's an opportunity for her to kind of reinvent herself in a suburban environment.
Will we see flashbacks eventually in the season to Renee and Lynette when they were in college, and first became friends?
Oooh, I don't know. (Laughing) I'll have to ask ('Desperate Housewives' creator) Marc (Cherry) that. There's nothing that's been written so far. We're just starting (to film) episode seven. We start on that today, and, so far, no flashbacks. But that would be very funny! I might have to suggest that.
There are rumors that Renee will have some romantic aspirations towards Brian Austin Green's character, Keith ... true?
Yes, yes, we really delve into that around episode two or three. It really establishes the character, and it's a wonderful opportunity for me to work with Marcia. We've had a ball. It's been wonderful to come in with humor, and the other women love it, too, because we all get a chance to be funny a lot, which is great.
How did the role on 'DH' come about?
I was on Broadway doing 'Sondheim on Sondheim,' and my agents tell me that I have a meeting with Marc Cherry. I thought it was for a future project. He was in town, and he basically said that he had gotten a phone call from (former ABC exec) Stephen McPherson, and Steve wanted me on the show. (Marc) asked whether I'd seen the show, and what I thought about it. And I said, 'Yes, I've seen the show, and sure, let's think about something.' And then Marc said, "OK, we'll come up with something that you like, a character that you like." And the offer came in that afternoon, and the deal was done ... I think, we finished (the deal) maybe three, four days later. So it came in lightning speed, and it was done in the blink of an eye.
Wow, if only all deals worked out that quickly and easily ...
Yeah, right! (Laughing)
Did you know at that point the kind of character, or the exact character, that you would play?
Well, I mean I knew that ... you know, obviously, Wilhelmina Slater had given me four tremendous years, and they didn't want it to be another Wilhelmina Slater, which of course, we couldn't do. But I think they knew they definitely wanted her to be a personality that was large and one to be reckoned with. So Renee is a lot more passive-aggressive. She tries to be friendly, but sometimes just says inappropriate things. And she's quite competitive with Lynette, because of the nature of them being college roommates and having a history. Wilhelmina just invoked fear and in nearly everyone that she worked with, and she was an expert at so many things, and she was ... her personality was so big. I think Renee is more of an outsider trying to fit into a different type of life, and a different group of girls.
In other 'Desperate Housewives' season seven action:
- Green is a fine addition to the collection of Men of Wisteria Lane, as Bree, who ends her marriage to Orson (Kyle MacLachlan) in the season premiere, hires Green's Keith to help her with some interior re-designing after Orson suggests she start a new project to help her deal with their divorce.
- And Keith, it will turn out, comes by his looks honestly. Later in the season we'll meet his father, who'll be played by 'The Dukes of Hazzard' and 'Smallville' star John Schneider.
- Not only do Bree and Renee clash as they both have their eyes on Keith, but Renee also ticks Lynette off when she starts spending too much time with Tom (Doug Savant).
- Paul Young (Mark Moses) is out of jail and back on Wisteria Lane (and living is Susan and Mike's house), and he claims to only want to renew his friendship with his former neighbors. That, of course, isn't true. He's got vengeance on his mind.
- Ditto Felicia Tillman (Harriet Sansom Harris), who Paul was wrongly convicted of killing. Not dead, still crazy and even more determined to make Paul pay for offing her sis.
- Paul has another surprise for his former friends: a new wife (guest star Emily Bergl), who he hooked up with while he was still in prison.
- One of the families finds out in the season premiere that one of their children was switched at birth. Actually, the father finds out, and keeps the news from his wife, who's going to find out the truth during an emergency trip to the hospital.
- Mike (James Denton) and Susan (Teri Hatcher), who unknowingly rented their house to Paul, are now living in a more, ahem, modest, apartment, thanks to their financial woes, and Susan takes a secret, kinda kinky new job to make enough cash to prevent Mike from going to Alaska to find work.
- And, in an Oct. 10 episode that's sure to be heavy on the comedy aspect of the Emmy-winning dramedy, Bree and Renee go clubbing together.