By Jill Jacobs
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tony Award winning actress, Kristin Chenoweth, returns to prime time television with "GCB" (Good Christian Belles), portraying a Botox-injecting Bible blogger, Carlene Cockburn.
The once ugly duckling is living a picture perfect life until former nemesis, Amanda, returns to their hometown of Dallas, Texas, and that's where the laughs begin.
Chenoweth, star of film, TV and stage, also recently released a country album, "Some Lessons Learned," featuring songs by Dolly Parton, Diane Warren and Lady Antebellum's, Hillary Scott.
Reuters spoke to Chenoweth about her new series, which premieres on ABC March 4, Christianity, and why she loves Dallas.
Q: First of all, what the heck does GCB stand for?
A: "'Good Christian Belles' ... our show is less about religion and more about how women handle the good and evil in their lives and how they handle each other."
Q: How did you prepare for colorful Carlene Cockburn, who lives by the adage, "Cleavage makes your cross hang straight?"
A: "It was really important for me to portray someone who had been bullied and who had been hurt. Now that she's redone herself, and I mean 'redone' herself, she's been the queen for a while and now that same bully is back in town and has changed. And like so many of us, we don't believe that people can change and forgiveness is very difficult. That's what this show deals with: forgiveness, friendship, love and kindness. I think Carlene struggles with wanting to be a good Christian, rather than letting Amanda really have it."
Q: Is Carlene based on anyone we know?
A: "She's based on an amalgam of women. Some I grew up with, some I went to church with and some who I might be related to. She has a big heart and wants everyone to get along, but she fights it within herself. That is a demon that a lot of people can understand."
Q: Is Dallas a big part of the show?
A: "Dallas is definitely a huge part of our world, a third character. I think the show is a love letter to Dallas. I love Dallas! It's got great shopping, what can I say?"
Q: Outside the show, what was your inspiration for Maddie's Corner, your nonprofit organization created to help animals?
A: "In our business it's so easy to get caught up in the whole 'me me me me me,' even if you're not necessarily a selfish type of person. I needed something to take care of and I wasn't getting married and I wasn't having a child, so I got my baby, Madeline Kahn Chenoweth, my dog, and she changed my life.
"I wanted to see other people experience this same happiness through pet adoption. We also give a lot of time and financial assistance when crisis hits, like Katrina, for example. Obviously people are so important, but we don't want to forget about these little furry babies. My dream is for the organization to continue to grow, while providing more awareness about animal adoption." (http://www.maddiescorner.org)
Q: Is it true that Dolly Parton wants you to play her in a new musical she's writing about her life?
A: "Yes, that's true and I would love to play her. She's such an amazing entertainer and such an amazing person who has a great story to tell. I could see me doing that for sure."
Q: If someone wrote a musical about your life, who would you want to star in the title role?
A: "I always joke that it could be the Olsen twins, when one of them is tired the other could take over. I've had an interesting journey and I've learned a lot of lessons, hard ones, good ones, fun ones, but that's what life is. I don't know if people would find me interesting enough, but I have some stories to tell."
Q: You've been open about being adopted. What advice do you have for people thinking about adoption?
A: "Adoption is such a wonderful option. I was given the most beautiful life because my birth mother was smart enough and cared enough to carry me for nine months to give me to Junie and Jerry, who are my parents and have raised me. I'm so thankful to my birth mother for giving me life."
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)