Article taken from Out in Hollywood.
For those of us who have been big fans of Jean Smart since she was on “Designing Women,” it’s been absolutely fantastic to have her back on TV each week in a situation comedy.
Her role as Regina, Christina Applegate’s mom on ABC’s “Samantha Who?” is a riot and light years away from her most famous role as the sweet Charlene on “Women.”
“When I read the pilot, I thought it was so, so funny,” Jean said a few days ago. “Here’s a woman who videotapes her daughter coming out of coma so she can go on ‘Extreme Makeover.’”
The series has its season finale Monday night and will return in the fall for its second season. It revolves around Samantha (Applegate) who suffers from amnesia after an accident and doesn’t remember that she and her mother are estranged.
“She’s been given this second chance with her daughter, any parent’s dream,” Jean said of Regina. “She’s not handling it very well. She’s a little clumsy when it comes to mothering. She thinks she’s doing the right thing but often, she’s not at all. She refuses to do any self analysis. If anything’s wrong, it’s someone else’s fault. It’s funny to play someone who’s not introspective when she’s up against a daughter who is constantly picking apart every moment.”
Jean is such a hoot on “Samantha” but her television resume is filled with many indelible characters. I asked about some of my favorites:
Charlene Frasier (“Designing Women”) “I love that character, she took everything and everyone at face value. She saw the good in everyone. It was a great time and it was a special time in my life. I met my husband on the show and had my son on the show. And I worked with these great women.”
Lana Gardner (“Frasier”), a recurring role that won Jean two Emmy Awards: “It was such a funny character. At the time, I had my nose in the air about guest spots. My agent said, ‘I think you should read this. I read it and it was hilarious. It appealed to my sense of humor and I thought the show was brilliant and everyone on it was amazing. The first table read, we are all laughing so hard we could barely get through it. She was this perfectly lovely woman with an anger management problem. The audience knew Kelsey (Grammer) so well, that every time she did something crass – like putting a cigarette out in a glass of wine – they knew how Frasier was going to react.”
First Lady Martha Logan (“24”): “She had the best written introduction. … It was this woman in an expensive beaded silk suit and jewelry who dunks her head in the sink. It said everything: no impulse control. You never knew what to expect. She was volatile and had an odd sense of humor.”
Martha was married to U.S. Pres. Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin) and Jean earned two Emmy nods for the role: “I never expected to go on past that fifth (season) but the characters turned out to be so popular that they felt they had to bring us back long enough for me to stab him in the neck with a fruit knife and kill him.”
Elinore ‘Ellie’ Walker (“High Society”) “I think CBS, at the time, found it a bit much. A few years later, they kind of thought, ‘Oh gee, that might have worked really well. They said we are not doing (the British comedy ‘Absolutely Fabulous’) which I had never seen. But of course we were doing AbFab! It was great fun. I got to wear fabulous clothes, I got to lust after Mary (McDonnell’s) teenaged son and be a pill popping, drunken romance novelist. I felt that if it wasn’t over the top, it would be tasteless and not as funny.”