Thursday, July 17, 2014

USAToday: Tea Leoni in a CBS state. July 17, 2014

In the new CBS fall drama Madam Secretary, Leoni will play Elizabeth McCord, a newly appointed secretary of State. The show is produced by Judging Amy's Barbara Hall and Oscar winnerMorgan Freeman, and co-stars Tim Daly as Elizabeth's husband.
Zeljko Ivanek plays chief of staff to Tea Leoni's secretary of state on CBS' 'Madam Secretary.'

Why make Elizabeth the secretary of State instead of the president? "Wait until year four," jokes Leoni. She was speaking Thursday at the Television Critics Association presentation about the new show.

Leoni has been approached to return to TV before, but has turned down most offers before Madam Secretary. So why come back now? "My kids at 15 and 12 are ready. I turned to my 12-year-old and said, 'Are you cool with it? I'm not going to be around as much' ... And he said 'Yeah. I was getting sick of you.' So I'm back."

To prepare for the role, Leoni met with former secretary of State Madeleine Albright — thanks to an introduction from Daly.
"Madeleine Albright is my White House Correspondents' Dinner girlfriend," says Daly. "We meet every year and have become very close. I must say she gives the best restaurant recommendations worldwide of anyone I know."

The marriage Leoni and Daly portray, says Hall, is at the heart of the Madam Secretary story — and it will be a marriage that functions well. Too many shows these days, Hall says, make it look like it's impossible for women to have a career and a marriage, to be competent both personally and professionally. "We as women have to overcome that image."

For this show, Hall has teamed with Freeman, who is (and plans to remain) one of America's most prominent actors. In his new executive-producer role, he sees it as his job to fill Secretary with great actors, whatever their race, without any specific diversity goals in mind.

"What we exercise is open casting," he says. "That means hopefully we will have an open mind in terms of casting, and whoever fits that role will get that role."

source: USA Today

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