Jaime Pressly and Mimi Kennedy discuss their part of the 'Mom' universe
Jaime Pressly and Mimi Kennedy have both had good "Mom" news since I talked with them on the set of the CBS comedy in March.
At the time, Pressly was still a "Mom" guest star, but the "My Name Is Earl" Emmy winner seemed very open to getting to be a regular part of the action.
In March, it was announced that Pressly will, indeed, be a regular next season, continuing to chart the journey of wealthy divorcee Jill, who has made several trips to rehab this year.
And at the time, Kennedy was unsure what was happening with Marjorie's cancer, an important Season 1 plotline that was ignored for the first chunk of Season 2.
In recent episodes, it was finally been revealed that Marjorie has been continuing with treatment and that she's now cancer-free.
I held my interviews with Pressly and Kennedy a little long and so there were large conversational chunks about Pressly's future on the show and Marjorie's ambiguous health that have become superfluous or redundant or irrelevant or something.
Still, as "Mom" reaches the end of its terrific second season on Thursday (April 30), I wanted to run the interviews. I loved a lot of the things Pressly said about the strong women in the cast, as well as her insights into the never-ending single-cam/multi-cam debate. I also thought Kennedy had right insights into the core emotional dynamics in "Mom" and I also enjoyed the discussion at the end about the thought process in selecting Emmy submission episodes.
Thurday's finale, fortunately, is a good showcase for both Pressly and Kennedy. We see more sides to Jill's ongoing living situation with Octavia Spencer's Regina and we spend more time with Marjorie and her loving cats. It is, in general, quite a fine episode and a dark-but-nimble illustration of the show's evolution.
Click through for my slightly trimmed Jaime Pressly interview on Page 1 and my slightly trimmed Mimi Kennedy interview on Page 2...
HitFix: Had you worked with Octavia before at any point?
Jaime Pressly: No but I knew her. We’re both from the South and so we all in this business, most of us know each other somehow.
HitFix: So you guys were able to find a rapport?
Jaime Pressly: These women here it’s very rare that you find such a wealth of talent in women all on one set. I’m really happy to be and honored to be a part of it, because not only are these women all extremely talented as individuals, we’re all very supportive of each other. And it’s nice to see strong, smart, talented women support each other and not go against each other. And we all work beautifully together and love being together and it’s a really loving teamwork atmosphere here.
HitFix: Is that the kind of thing that you can sense immediately when you get onto a set like this?
Jaime Pressly: Yeah, I mean I knew Allison a little bit before and Anna as well. But we all just kind of hit it off right away when we started working together in what, July. And then when Octavia came back it was just kind of like old buddies. It’s like we’ve all known each other for years. It’s great. It’s very organic.
HitFix: The past few years you've mixed it up, you did a single cam, a bit of multi-cam. Do you have a preference honestly or is it just the material regardless?
Jaime Pressly: It’s the material really. And you know a lot of times when it comes to pilots, for instance, there’ll be a really great pilot script but then you don’t know where the rest of it’s – like it kind of begins and ends there. It’s very difficult to have a successful series that can continue to capture and captivate an audience and keep people interested. Because the story, you’ve got to be able to continue to tell this story. I love multi-cam obviously because I love the format. My son’s name is Desi, named after the man who created the format.
HitFix: I had not known that.
Jaime Pressly: He and the DP of "The Lucy Show" created the format.
HitFix: I knew that part, but I didn’t know your son’s name was Desi.
Jaime Pressly: Oh, my son. Oh yes, yes. So obviously I love the format. It’s my favorite because I love getting the immediate response from the audience and it gives us this upper hand where before it airs we know it’s funny, because we got to test it in front of an audience and if a joke didn’t work the writers can change it. We get to change it. So that’s really a huge benefit as far as from multi format. But single camera gives you the ability to tell more story because you don’t have to wait for laughs. And when you only have 20 to 22 minutes to tell the story it can be very difficult,, especially when you’re holding for laughs, you know. So you’ve got to have a really tight script with which any Chuck Lorre show, you don’t have to worry about the scripts are always perfect. But when it comes to single, you know, like for instance doing "Earl," we never questioned our scripts. They showed up hilarious. Greg Garcia and all of our writers were such geniuses when it came to that world that Earl and everybody lived in. It kind of just was very organic from the get-go. That was one of the greatest experiences of all of our lives, everybody that was a part of that. And it’s really hard because you want to go back to work. If you’re gonna do single camera, me being a parent in real life, it’s very important that I’m not away from my son all the time. I want to be there. And if you’re doing single camera you spend a large majority of your day on set as opposed to multi where you have this really great schedule where I can go pick him up from school and you only have really one long day. So if I’m gonna do single, it’s got to be with a really great group of people that I care about, an easygoing set where everybody’s happy. Because going to a set where people are miserable, there’s nothing worse than spending 15 hours a day, you know what I mean, doing that.
HitFix: Obviously you’re not going to say what you’ve been looking at but do you have a sense of sort of what this spring people are looking at in terms of single-cam, multi-cam?
Jaime Pressly: I do but, you know, it’s hard because there’s like what – 55 networks or something and 111 shows they’re casting for? I say this all the time. You know there was a day when people who did film who would never touch television and I’ve always like to do both but I prefer television because it gives you more of an opportunity to dive into a character and find out where it goes. And a lot of times after you finish a film you go, "Wait, now I get the character," and you want to go back and redo it but you can’t. You have this like little amount of time to get it right. And with television you get to grow with the character, you get to, first of all you get to be in everybody’s homes every week as opposed to in theaters once a year. It’s way more productive in that we shoot more pages a day than .... For instance "I Love You, Man" there was a scene where there were eight women in it and we shot for 15 hours for one scene. Fifteen hours on a single camera show would be eight pages, you know what I mean? The one scene was only two pages long. For me I like to be productive. I like to keep it moving and fresh and especially with comedy. And so, you know, that’s essentially what television is doing now. It’s like shooting mini films every week. Just not taking so damn long to do it.
HitFix: And it even feels like that in multi-cam like this?
Jaime Pressly: Multi-cam you don’t feel that way. Single camera television you do of course.
HitFix: Because this is like shooting a play every week.
Jaime Pressly: It is and it’s awesome because it’s acting in its purest form. You’re in front of an audience. It’s very raw and you’re very vulnerable and it can be nerve wracking but it’s also amazing because the audience is right there. They’re not that far away. And it’s nice to have the automatic response and just that energy that you get from the audience. It’s an adrenalin rush.
HitFix: Well I was talking to Mimi and she was saying that to some degree on a show like this that has the dramatic beats you have to learn maybe not to go for the laugh as much in the say way that you might on a different multi-cam. Have you felt that way as well that on this particular show there’s less, I don’t know, playing to the audience for approval?
Jaime Pressly: Well here’s the thing. Growing up, you know, my agent said something to me that I thought was quite brilliant recently. He said, "When we grew up television was for kids and film was for adults. And nowadays television is for adults and film is for kids." And it’s very true because remember "Cheers."
HitFix: Of course.
Jaime Pressly: I mean "Golden Girls." "Friends." "Frasier." There’s so many. Even "Will and Grace." I mean "The Cosby Show." They all had moments that were heavy at times because they were touching on real life topics and that’s what you want a show to be about. You want it to be relatable so that people want to watch it and they get it and they understand it. And I think if everything’s funny all the time that gets old because nothing is funny all the time and perfect all the time. I mean that would be great. I think what’s great about this in this format and a Chuck Lorre show is that you can hit something really heavy and come out of it really funny. He’s not afraid, which I love, to end a comedy on a heavy note without having an upbeat. This particular episode, it ends in a heavy beat. Like I get choked up when we’re filming the show almost every week because there’s so many really real great moments that happen in real life that are hard. And that’s what the show’s about.
HitFix: I feel like with a lot of those shows that you mentioned, the older shows they would do the Very Special Episode in which somebody’s alcoholic uncle showed up and they had to deal with alcoholism for a week. And I like that this show sort of has the ability to do that on a weekly basis. It doesn’t have to be a very special episode.
Jaime Pressly: It’s not taboo anymore to talk about AA or any of these things. I think it’s very courageous that they can make light out of the heavy and that they’re talking about something that’s very real and relatable to so many people. I’m a big fan of pushing the envelope and this isn’t the '50s anymore. We should be able to talk about stuff. And again it’s really incredible to have this cast and such an incredible cast of women – strong all of them, and talented and funny. It’s very difficult to find a bunch of women that can be funny and serious, heavy at the same time. That’s hard. And then have them all get along. That’s unheard of, you know.
HitFix: Certainly you hear the sitcom stories about the cases where that didn’t happen.
Jaime Pressly: You hear all kinds of stories whether it’s sitcom, film or single camera, you know, television. It’s rare.