In ABC’s new dramedy GCB, based on Kim Gatlin’s successful book, Good Christian Bitches, Leslie Bibb (Zookeeper, Iron Man 2) plays Amanda Vaughn, once the ultimate high school ‘mean girl.’ When her marriage fails, she is forced to return to her hometown and her mother, Gigi (Annie Potts), a Dallas socialite, for help.
Carline Cockburn (Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies, Glee) was once a ugly duckling who was tormented by Amanda in school, but has made an ‘assisted’ transformation since. She, along with her friends, is not happy to see Amanda back in town, and they make sure she knows it.
Kristin and Leslie spoke with us about the joys of becoming good Christian bitches!
Is the role of Carlene freeing? Do you get to say things that you could never say in real life?
Kristin: I love it because we all think those things, but she gets to just say them and unabashedly, with no apologies. To all of these people their problems are real to them. The big barbecue, the affair, they’re real problems in their community. And it’s fun to just be able to say, ‘Oh, bad hair day.’
I love her being a villainess. It’s a very different role for me to play. I get to say what I think.
Whose character is the biggest bitch on the show?
Leslie: I think maybe we all have moments of being really bitchy, just like I feel every human being has a moment of being bitchy. I think when a woman’s a bitch, usually it’s fear-based. So they just put up this wall because they’re scared of the mirror that they’re seeing.
I feel like we all set each other off in the show, and so I think everyone has a really beautiful, delicious moment of being bitchy and then of redemption and then being a bitch again.
What’s the reaction you get from mean girls from high school now when you go back home?
Kristin: It’s funny, I just had a concert where one of the mean girls from my hometown in Oklahoma showed up at the stage door. They said, so and so is here, and my assistant, who heard me tell stories about her, and I said, ‘I think not!’ It felt so good. I mean, I’ve moved on, but, maybe not a little bit!
Do your old friends, and enemies, try to contact you?
Kristin: Yeah, they want to help their kids. Usually when it involves a child, I will suck it up, because the kid had nothing to do with it. But, yeah, I’ve had a lot of people come back to me to be ‘friends.’
Hope those kids don’t take after the parents.
Kristin: Hopefully I’ll show them how to be a good example. But it did feel good to let ‘so and so’ not come back!
Your series has been promoted as the continuing legacy of Desperate Housewives. Is there pressure with being compared to such a great, long-running show? And how are you similar and different from that series?
Leslie: Listen, if we had the run that Desperate Housewives had that would be amazing. Where we’re similar is it’s a story about a group of women. Nobody writes for Southern women, I think, the way that [writer and executive producer] Bobby Harling writes.
I’ve never seen a show like this on television, and I really mean that. I think that he has done something really special. Bobby’s so stealth in the way he shines a light on a situation, and he shows you each side of the gamut. And somewhere in the middle is really what he’s trying to show, the point he’s getting across.
If you’re expecting Desperate Housewives, I don’t know if we’re very much like them. But we’re a show about a group of women, with Bobby Harling’s flair.
Can you talk about your high school experience with bullies?
Kristin: There was a bully of a person who said she just wanted to beat me up because I was ‘so happy.’ And I kept telling her, ‘I’m not worth the fuss.’ But she was probably my worst nightmare.
Has that happened to you in Hollywood?
Kristin: Yeah, you bet, I’ve had people say not so nice things about me, but that’s okay, that’s their opinion.
Leslie: Hollywood is like high school, but with more money. And high school is an awful time, you’re just trying to keep your head above water. It’s like [being in a] shark tank.
Amanda is an adult [now], but everything is being slapped in her face, ‘You were awful in high school. You did this and this.’ She was pretty horrific. So it’s a constant realization of what she used to be.
Being a Broadway star, has there been any talk about you making an appearance on Smash?
Kristin: No, but I know practically all the people in it, and the producers are my best friends. Michael Mayer [who directed the pilot] directed me in You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, which I won the Tony for, so I obviously want it to do well, because they’re my peers.
Have you seen the show?
Kristin: I love it. I think Katharine McPhee is pretty special, and I’ve met Megan Hilty twice, and I just loved her. I think she is perfect for Smash.
Will you be back on Glee?
Kristin: GCB is my main priority now. April Rose [on Glee] is a blast to play. She is a has-been drunk, so that’s fun. But Carleen has her own problems.
Who inspires you?
Kristin: What we’ve discovered about this show is that it is an all out comedy. And Madeline Kahn and Sally Fields are the women who inspire me, and hopefully that’s what we’re keeping going.