Exclusive: Kristin Chenoweth on the Bitches, Belles and Angels of 'GCB'
Exclusive: Kristin Chenoweth on the Bitches, Belles and Angels of 'GCB'
It's been three years since the critically-acclaimed (but ratings-challenged) Pushing Daisies went off the air. Since then, Kristin Chenoweth has been largely absent from the small screen. Sunday night, though, Kristin makes her highly-anticipated return as part of the elite cast of GCB - a show that has generated quite a bit of advance buzz. She stars as Carlene Cockburn - a woman who was an ugly duckling in high school, but with the help of some enhancements, she has evolved into, well, Kristin Chenoweth.

BuddyTV caught up with Kristin in advance of GCB's premiere, which airs on Sunday night at 10pm on ABC. In this exclusive chat, Kristin talks about the show, her character, the comparisons that have been made between GCB and its lead-in, Desperate Housewives, and about some of the controversy surrounding GCB, and its original title.

BuddyTV: Let's talk about GCB. What attracted you to the project?

Kristin Chenoweth: Well, [the involvement of creator] Bobby Hartling and [executive producer] Darren Star were the big pluses for me. Because no one writes women like Bobby. And I had read the script. And I saw how juicy Carlene was, and I didn't want anyone else doing it! So I said "Yeah! I want to do that part."

BTV: Were you familiar with the novel (Good Christian Bitches by Kim Gatlin) that GCB was adapted from before you committed to doing the show?

KC: I wasn't familiar with it. I didn't even know it existed! But it gave Bobby this idea and I'm so glad that he ran with it. I mean, we're really not anything like the characters in the book. It's very different. But it's what sparked his idea. And I'm so glad because these women are really fun to play. I think each of us is in love with our parts, which is really important. You've got to love who you're playing.

BTV: Talking about fun, GCB has been compared, in that regard, to your lead-in, Desperate Housewives. Is that a fair comparison, in your opinion?

KC: I think that we'll reach the fans of Desperate Housewives. I think there's a reason why they compare our show to Desperate Housewives. Really, though, it's such a different world from the Desperate Housewives. I'm so thankful for that show, because it [paved the way so that] a show like ours could be done. But that's really where it stops. It's a totally different beast. It's a different world. And there's something about southern women. It's like Steel Magnolias, you know? They might argue. They might fight. But at the end of it, they would lay down their lives for one another. Although I don't know if Carlene would lay down her life for [rival character] Amanda. (laughs) But ultimately, I think she would. And that's just something that southern women are.

BTV: Would you consider that to be your character's prevailing trait - the fact that she's southern?

KC: I think that she's southern, but she's also a very faithful woman. She really actually does believe what she preaches. She does enjoy being a leader. She enjoys making her husband happy. She's definitely complicated though, because she gets derailed by the angel on her shoulder and the devil on her shoulder. Obviously, that makes her layered, and fun to play. But she gets in her own way, like a lot of us do. And I think that's a trait that brings humor.

BTV: Since you bring up your character's faith, your own personal faith has been extremely well chronicled over the years. Did you, as a practicing Christian, have any qualms with the show's original title, or any of the show's content?

KC: Not the content. I know that it doesn't make fun of religion. It doesn't make fun of my faith. But I was a little nervous about the original title. I thought that it might turn off people that would otherwise watch it. The show isn't even about that. Not at all. So I was happy when they changed it to Good Christian Belles, and then to GCB.

BTV: Finally, as much as many people are looking forward to your return to television, there are just as many people eager for you to return to Broadway - where you're something of a folk legend going back to shows like Wicked, and You're a Good Man Charlie Brown. Any chance you'll be going back to the Great White Way in the near future?

KC: Oh yeah! Of course. I'm so happy to go back to Broadway. I'm coming back on my next hiatus to do a show called On the Twentieth Century - a revival of an operetta that Madeline Kahn did a way, way long time ago. So yeah, I can't wait. That means that I'm booked for another three years (laughs), but I don't care. I love what I do. I'm not a chemical engineer. I can't do math. I'm not a salesman. This is what my job is, and I love it. So the schedule's pretty full, but I'll definitely be coming back to New York to do that. I'm just lucky that I get to do what I love.

Don't miss Kristin Chenoweth's new show, GCB, when it premieres Sunday, March 4 at 10pm on ABC. And check out the official page for more info!

Joe DePaolo
Contributing Writer

(Image courtesy of ABC)