Ellen Gray: 'Roseanne' actress assembles cast of famous moms for CBS talk show

James Badge Dale stars as Will Travers in AMC's conspiracy-loving "Rubicon."
James Badge Dale stars as Will Travers in AMC's conspiracy-loving "Rubicon."
Posted: July 29, 2010

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Is it easier being an openly gay daytime talk-show host than it is being an openly gay actress?

Sara Gilbert doesn't know yet.

"I don't really think of things as in or out. . . . This is a whole new world for me," Gilbert told reporters yesterday at a news conference for CBS' so-far-untitled new show, a mother-centric version of ABC's "The View" that the former "Roseanne" co-star developed and will co-host with Mount Airy's Holly Robinson Peete, as well as Julie Chen, Sharon Osbourne, Leah Remini and Marissa Jaret Winokur.

Asked about CBS' announcement last week, which had included information about the spouses of Gilbert's co-hosts but not about her partner, Allison Adler, Gilbert said that wasn't CBS' idea, but hers.

"I've been acting my whole life," and she's never discussed her personal life, she said, and while she expects to do so in the course of doing this show, "I felt that the first place I wanted to do it wasn't in a CBS news release."

CBS, which last week also had its knuckles rapped by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation when it gave the network a failing grade for not being "LGBT-inclusive" in prime time (and for leaving Gilbert's partner off the release), yesterday had entertainment president Nina Tassler vowing to do better and noting that next season, "The Good Wife" will introduce us to Alicia's gay brother.

Tassler was also asked to defend the casting of Chen, whose husband happens to be Tassler's boss, CBS CEO Les Moonves - in a third show. (She already hosts "Big Brother" and is expected to continue to appear on "The Early Show," though she'll probably no longer be a co-host "because that's too much even for the Chen-bot," as Chen herself put it.)

Guess what? Chen, too, was Gilbert's idea.

"The bottom line was the executive producer of the show, Sara Gilbert, said, 'Do you think Julie would be interested?' We followed her lead," Tassler said, adding, "I made the decision. I don't think Leslie was unhappy with the decision."

Well, Gilbert did grow up in show business.

But while all the women were happy to dish about their significant others for reporters - Peete reporting that her husband, Rodney, a former Eagles quarterback, snores and that she'd tried "to put one of those Breathe Right strips on him in his sleep" - there are, it turns out, places the talkative women of CBS won't be going.

When Remini was asked if she might be discussing her relationship with the Church of Scientology, the former "King of Queens" star replied firmly - very firmly - "not at all."

She's there, she said, to make people laugh.

"That other thing is not a thing that is even a part of my discussions. That's not what I do."

Crosswords & 'Rubicon'

"What is it with this guy? Why do we give a s---?" asks one man of another observing a third through a pair of binoculars in the second hour of the two-hour premiere Sunday of "Rubicon" (8 p.m., AMC).

"I don't know, and I don't care," replies his companion.

People who love puzzles may learn to care about "Rubicon," which could probably find a way to spin the numbers in that first sentence into a complex conspiracy, but I couldn't shake the feeling that the network of "Mad Men" had produced another period piece, one infused with paranoia that's meant to be contemporary but somehow isn't.

James Badge Dale ("The Pacific") stars as Will Travers, an analyst in a think tank with a sad but cliched backstory that doesn't bear too close examination and a penchant for puzzles - this is the guy you'd want on speed dial when the New York Times' Saturday crossword makes you crazy - and a future that seems a little dubious, given that people around him are dropping like flies, and there are those other people watching him through binoculars as he stands on a roof.

AMC previewed the first hour in June and will rerun that, along with a second episode, Sunday. Two more hours were provided for review, but scratches on my DVD rendered the third hour largely inoperable (yes, the dog ate my homework), so I can't say if it's going to grow on me.

I did perk up every time Miranda Richardsonq appeared on-screen, though even her character, a widow trying to untangle the secrets behind her husband's suicide, contributes to the general lassitude.

After "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" - the latter a show I didn't warm to immediately, despite a riveting performance by Bryan Cranston - AMC's likely earned a little rope with a small but passionate audience. Whether "Rubicon" manages to establish more than an edgy mood will probably decide how long even the most masochistic of those viewers sticks around.

Ellen Gray is covering the Television Critics Association's summer meetings. E-mail her at graye@phillynews.com or chat with her and Inquirer TV critic Jonathan Storm at 11 a.m. today at go.philly.com/tvchat.

comments powered by Disqus