Regina Newly for Mother of the Year: Jean Smart talks SAMANTHA WHO?

Jean SmartHello folks, I implore you!  Skip AMERICAN IDOL or TiVo it and fast forward through to the end before you watch something else.  Why, you ask?  Because SAMANTHA WHO? is back tonight and it’s fantastic!  Sam and Todd are friends and roommates and they both want more but they’re both afraid to say more, and at one point, I’m pretty sure Sam asks him to hit on Andrea’s boyfriend.  The boyfriend she’s been “dating” through text message, but meets for the first time at Sam’s prodding.  And Dena gets to interact with Regina and Howard all night and it’s classic!  I had the opportunity to speak with the wonderful Jean Smart (Regina) this week, and we talked about the show, why you should watch, and whether she knows what happened to Martha Logan on 24! 

So excited for the show to come back, it’s one of my top ten!
Oh thank you!!

You’ve had a chance to play Regina for a while, and I was wondering what your favorite things about this character are?
She, like her daughter, has sort of been given a second chance as well, to redo things.  I think that she realizes that she wasn’t a mother of the year, necessarily, and I think she wants to be that, desperately.  She’s kind of clumsy in the way she goes about doing things to make up for any past mistakes.  She sort of treats her daughter like she’s 15 years old.  She’s very heavy handed with the advice to everybody [laughs] not just her daughter.  The only person she doesn’t give advice to is herself!

I love the interaction you have with Melissa (McCarthy, plays Dena). 
First of all, Melissa is one of the funniest human beings on the planet.  I made a little suggestion, or I had asked the producers last season, and they took it and ran with it, and made it much better than my idea, but I said, I would like to make Dena sort of her little project.  So we had that fun scene last year where we do makeovers on each other and get plastered.  And now, she’s become a pen pal to a soldier and she realizes that the soldier thinks that this is more than just being a pen pal, so she wants to break up with him. So I beg her to let me break up with him.  I say, “come on, I haven’t broken up with someone in so long.  It’ll make me feel like a teenager.”  So I try to help her break up with him!

Besides that episode, what else is coming up this season?
We have the fabulous Billy Zane on the show; he plays Christina’s boss.  He’s madly in love with her, and bound and determined to get her away from poor Todd.  And of course I want her to marry him because he’s filthy rich.  Whenever he’s around, I can hardly talk, I have a giggling fit; Regina, whenever she’s around this person, she loses complete control!  We have some fabulous guest stars coming up.  John Taylor from Duran Duran, Florence Henderson plays my mother.  At first, I thought, “Florence Henderson?” because she’s so sweet, and so petite.  You will see a side of Florence Henderson that you have never seen before [laugh].  It’s hysterical.  It explains a lot of things about why Regina is how she is. Christine Ebersole plays my sister.  It makes our little family look normal.

scene_stealer6Why do you think now is a good time to get into the show?
The thing is, the characters, the relationships keep getting better, and better.  The thing about a show, that makes it successful, and makes it fun to watch is when you get to know the characters and want to see them interact.  What’s wonderful is sometimes when you get to know them so well, you could almost second guess the way they’re going to react to something.  Because everybody was off the air because of the writer’s strike, everything’s been kind of strange ever since we’ve started, and we didn’t have a full season last year.  Hopefully, the audience will be looking forward to getting to know the characters again, and getting back into the storylines.  It keeps getting better, and better.  It’s so much funnier in the second season.  We all ahve shows we love to watch.  The thing is, once you love the characters, it doesn’t matter what they do; you just want to watch them interact with each other.  I think the show is fantastic.  We have incredibly loyal fans already.  We’re hoping particularly [tonight] that everyone will TiVo AMERICAN IDOL and watch later.

One of my favorite episodes is the episode where you and Sam dance at the country club! What are some of your favorites?
Well, that is definitely one of my favorites!  Also, the episode with Dena where she and I do makeovers, and we end up looking like a couple of 1970s drag queens [laughs], and go out and TP the neighbors house!  I have some really wonderful stuff coming up with Kevin Dunn who plays my husband!

What else do you watch on TV when you get a chance?
Oh, 24.  We’re addicted, my son, and my husband, and I.  It’s the one thing we always will do together.  Squish on the couch together and watch 24. 

Me and my dad, too!  We heard something bad happened to Martha!
I know!  Poor Martha, what did they do to her?  It’s hard to imagine!


SAMANTHA WHO? returns to the ABC lineup tonight at 8:30 PM!