Talking MALIBU COUNTRY with Reba!

Comedy returns to ABC Friday tonight with the second season premiere of LAST MAN STANDING, and the series premiere of the show bringing one of my favorites back to TV:  MALIBU COUNTRY, starring Reba!  Five years since her last show ended (the aptly titled REBA, which I still watch in reruns, daily), she’s back to TV, playing a different Reba.

This one is a country artist whose career was overshadowed by her (awful) husband when she decided to step back and raise the kids.  When it’s revealed that he’s cheated, she doesn’t stand by her man, and she hightails it out to Malibu to start fresh, kids and mother (played by Lily Tomlin) in tow!

I spent some time talking to Reba about what’s coming for the series, and why she feels MALIBU COUNTRY is an important show.  Plus we covered how real NASHVILLE feels to a woman whose spent so much of her time in that famous city!

You and John Michael and Faith Hill were the very first concert I went to when I was younger!
Oh really? No way!

I remember, like, you flying out over the audience, and a red dress during “Fancy” – it’s all very exciting!
[laughs out loud]

You can imagine then how excited I am to see you come back to TV.  Five years since REBA ended doesn’t seem like that long, but it has been too long!
Oh thank you, it has for us, too!  We’re really glad to be back on television.

Tell me what it was specifically that made you want to do MALIBU COUNTRY?
What I fell in love with about the concept of MALIBU COUNTRY was the sensibility, especially the mother’s part, who is played by Lily Tomlin.  It’s the sensibility that I was raised with.  That “young lady, you will NOT speak to your mother like that” and “you don’t speak to your mother like that” – those things that I grew up with, was in the script.  They’re a fish out of water coming to Malibu, but they still stick with your roots.

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It feels like a show that we haven’t had enough lately – that family sitcom people can watch together.
I think so, exactly right!  The children can sit there with Grandma and watch the show, with the parents, and be totally entertained!

Talk a little bit about working with Lily Tomlin – how long have you known each other, and how did she come aboard the show?
We’ve known each other for about 10 years.  I’ve seen her on Broadway; she’s seen me on Broadway.  We’ve run into each other over the past 10 years, to where whenever we called her, and said would you like to be a part of this project, she said, “Absolutely” and I was just thrilled to death that she said yes.

It feels like a real mother and daughter relationship –
That’s what I really did love.  The parents being the leaders, to show the boundaries to the children.  That’s what I’ve always been taught.  Children need boundaries, they want boundaries.  They want to know that there is someone stronger and smarter than them, that will lead them and protect them.

For people who haven’t seen the pilot or aren’t clear of what the show is, talk about the premise a bit and what we’ll see throughout the season?
Basically, I’m a country singer, married to a country singer who is more popular than I am, because after my first two albums I decided to stay home and raise my two children, named June and Cash.  So I find out that my husband has been cheating on me with his background singer, so we get a divorce, and I move my children and my mother to Malibu to this place I didn’t even know we owned; it was my husband’s Malibu pad, and so I get my children, basically, away from Nashville and all of the gossip, and everything, to start over and restart my music career.  So my mom, Lily Tomlin, is more of a liberal than I am, and she’s out and about learning more things about the way of life in Malibu and Los Angeles.  The kids, one of them hates school, one of them hates California, one of them loves it, because they’re fitting in more than they did in Nashville.  So it’s all the turmoil that people go through when they go through divorce and also when they make a move.

I’m also excited to see comedy come back to Friday nights on ABC, with this show and LAST MAN STANDING. It sounds like you and that show are working near the same lot, sharing some production crew. 
Some of our crew is the same, but to get to be the same hour as Tim Allen is a hoot.  I love his show.  It’s a very family oriented show, and on Friday night, I’m thrilled with that.  If there’s one bad thing about to be home at night, and there’s nothing to watch, no matter what night it is.  Friday night, to have sitcoms, which I love sitcoms!  It’s thirty minutes of great fun, packaged into a ball of energy.  What’s so funny with us doing television, and then you watch a movie, where they have all the time in the world, where you can just read their thoughts in a look?  We can’t do that in sitcoms.  You’ve got to snap to it, get your lines in there, and you only have 22 minutes to tell a great moving story, entertaining story.  It’s an action packed hour between LAST MAN STANDING and MALIBU COUNTRY.

How will your music be incorporated into the show?  I know the theme song is from a recent album – are there plans for an additional album in the works?
You’re going to be hearing the songs on MALIBU COUNTRY.  The theme song I recorded and I [performed that on] GOOD MORNING AMERICA on Thursday morning.  Another song in the pilot, called “New Me” that Dave Stewart, Narvel and I wrote.  Songs that I will be recording that will be incorporated into the television show.  As far as a new album, nothing yet.  Concerts, I’ve already got a bunch booked for next year, and I have three left this year.

Do you get a minute to sit back, look back on 35 #1 hits, and think, wow?  And is there something out there, after such a successful career, that you still have on a list of things to achieve?
Oh, things that I want to achieve in life is to stay happy and healthy, and get to do what I love to do, which is work, and be in the entertainment business, and play with my family as much as possible.  I love to vacation.  I mean, I love life!  I absolutely love life!  You’re gonna have to have good health to get to do all the fun things; it’s a job in and of itself to take care of your body!

What are you watching when you get a minute to sit with the DVR and catch up?
My favorite shows right now are NASHVILLE, REVENGE, and SCANDAL.  I love REVOLUTION and HOMELAND.

I wondered if you were watching NASHVILLE – growing up in that city, coming up in the business, how “real” is the story – have you seen these things happen?
Yeah!  In every generation, there are entertainers who get pushed aside because of an up and coming entertainer.  They don’t really get pushed aside, but it’s a very definite in your face take on what they’re doing on NASHVILLE.  It happens, but it’s a gradual progression usually [laughs].  I think it’s more compact in NASHVILLE right now.  But, it’s true to life!  I don’t’ know that I’ve ever written a song in the back of a truck and gone skinny dipping [laughs].  That’s a probably good idea; I don’t know if anyone else has tried it!

Somebody out there is going to try it now!
You bet! [laughs]

MALIBU COUNTRY airs Friday nights at 8:30/7:30c between LAST MAN STANDING and SHARK TANK.  For more information, head to ABC’s site!