Showtime’s dark comedy series WEB THERAPY, which just wrapped up its first season on SHOWTIME, started life (appropriately enough) on the Web in 2008 before making the jump to premium cable. The show deals with Fiona Wallice, played by series co-creator Lisa Kudrow, who has re-invented herself as a therapist who does sessions in short bursts over the Internet. Alas, Fiona is a terrible listener and her advice is generally insensitive and inappropriate.
What would make someone behave the way Fiona does? Well, we get some clues from her mother Putsy Hodge, who is played by multi-award-winning actress Lily Tomlin. Tomlin shot to fame in the ‘60s on LAUGH-IN, and she has subsequently been lauded for both her comedic and dramatic work on large and small screen, as well as her one-woman shows written with partner Jane Wagner. Recently, Tomlin has a season-long villainous arc on DAMAGES and she’s about to appear as a much warmer character on NCIS.
ASSIGNMENT X: It was a long time ago, but when you did LAUGH-IN, that was short-form, as it was a series of sketches. Is there any resemblance whatever between that sort of short-form and WEB THERAPY?
LILY TOMLIN: Yes, but LAUGH-IN was usually scripted, even though the people fooled around, but this is – first of all, the concept [of WEB THERAPY] is just wonderful and off the wall and free form. No matter what you bring, if we bring something during the day while you’re shooting, it just evolves. We’re doing more than one beat. We’re doing three beats or five beats or whatever, and it evolves and evolves and moves forward. As you’re going along through the day, you get ideas, and everybody else gets ideas. It’s so much fun. It sounds nutty, like, “Oh, yeah, kids getting together,” but if you get an idea and if everybody’s there and really playing and having fun, everybody on the team, the prop people and the costume people, everybody supports it. I get an idea and I say, “If only we have this, or if only we had that,” and everybody runs out and tries to make it happen, if you need a prop or you need a different something, everybody’s really collaborative in that sense. This whole gang of people, they’re there and they’re really playing, which is what actors and people like that do, they like to play. We always hope to get paid at the end, but even if we don’t, we don’t care. We do it anyway.
AX: Can you talk about what you’ll be doing on NCIS and how many episodes you’ll be in?
TOMLIN: One episode is all I’ve been signed to do. I’m playing McGee’s [Sean Murray] grandmother.
AX: What’s she like?
TOMLIN: Well, she’s a scientist, she’s very sharp. She was an admiral’s wife for many decades before he died and of course she’s the mother of McGee’s father. It’s a really good part. I was very delighted to get it. And it’s a wonderful company. They’re a military family and they’re very science-minded, so they’re not overly emotional. But we had this opportunity and Sean Murray is so darling. He kills me. When I’m doing scenes with him, he’s just so intense and he’s worried. It’s kind of a breakthrough with [McGee]. His grandmother, my character, makes a connection with him and we both come to a new place. And [the NCIS team is] a wonderful company.
AX: You recently attended an event in support of finding a cure for cancer …
TOMLIN: Well, I mean, God, how many friends have you had that have had cancer? Plenty, a load of people. Every now and then, my partner Jane [Wagner] says, “Why don’t you just get involved with one thing?” But it’s like there are so many things that I’m involved with, it’s so hard to turn people down, and so many worthwhile needs. Most everything is decent and well-meaning, and of course, cancer – we know what an industry cancer is, many of us do, and we question some of what goes on, and we hope that we find a group or a person or a scientist or a doctor who is leading something forward that is maybe more progressive, more honest, less money-motivating. I work with the Fenway Clinic in Boston a lot, I’ve worked with them for about twenty years, and they’re very advanced and they’ve done a lot of innovative things. But mostly we have friends who have cancer. Mostly, my family has heart disease. I haven’t done a lot of heart disease stuff, and that’s the thing I should be pushing for [laughs].
AX: With so much out there, how do you decide which causes to actively support?
TOMLIN: It’s so hard when you’re a public person. The more you’re in the business, the more people you’re involved with, and so it could be anything. I’m [upset] right now because of the kids that are starving iSomalia. What are we going to do with this damn world? And then these jokers, the Republicans in the Congress – how can they stand up bald-faced in the media and attempt to pass the stuff that they pass? Don’t get me started. Even the first responders from 9/11. All these guys have died, or are suffering, and [the Republican Congress] cut off funding to the first responders. I’ve been around long enough that when you’re trying to please the media and the audience, you usually generally behave well. – I don’t want to use [strong] language, but I’m almost tempted.
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Article Source: Assignment X
Article: Interview with WEB THERAPY star and NCIS guest star Lily Tomlin