NBC's "Lipstick Jungle" high heels its way back for a second season tonight and, according to star Brooke Shields and executive producer Oliver Goldstick, this new season will fulfill the promise of more sex, fashion and relationship drama that viewers had a taste of during the show's short first season. Shields and Goldstick gave our Jim Halterman a peek into the new crop of episodes.
If the season opener is any indication, "Lipstick Jungle" has taken a more aggressive approach to storytelling and making each character's stories spark. One way to do that � bring on big names such as television legend Mary Tyler Moore, who portrays Wendy's judgmental mother. Shields, who plays Wendy, said that Moore is "such a legend and such an icon that I think the anticipation of just her arriving was just so, so high that we all sort of had to work hard to just act normal around her and don't want to ask her all these questions about the career she's had." The line between being a professional and a fan was difficult at times when Shields was shooting her scenes with Moore. "I just try to sort of watch and appreciate, you know? And then I'll get flashes of 'Ordinary People' or I'll get flashes of some of the favorite moments of her show and you just think that wow, there's a whole history here."
Goldstick interjected that the history that Shields spoke of is one of the reasons that Moore perfectly fits into the world of "Lipstick Jungle." "Mary is really special to us," he said. "She represents something for those of us who grew up watching 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' as far as a single working woman and it's important what she represented. She personifies something that this show... I mean, ['Lipstick Jungle' is] the next generation."
Shields said everyone involved in the show was fully aware that Moore must have felt like the new kid on the block when she stepped onto the set for the first time. "I mean, she has a very difficult task at hand in which she's coming a show where we all have this second language already because we're with each other so many hours of every day and she comes in and has huge pages of dialogue." Goldstick and Shields also revealed that Moore would be back for more episodes this season, including the Thanksgiving episode, which they were filming at the time of this interview.
Getting back to the series as a whole, Goldstick explained, "This season could be really called Be Careful What You Wish For." When asked to elaborate, he said, "We're sort of realizing all of those fantasies from last season. Things that were brought up are being dramatized and all the ensuing issues that come with them." For example, in regards to Kim Raver's character, Nico, Goldstick pointed out, "At one point in the last season, Wendy said, So, it's a good thing you're not a mother because your values are questionable to pass on to a child. And it's interesting because we'll be exploring some of that this season." Also, in terms of Nico's affair with younger man Kirby (Robert Buckley), Goldstick teased, this season "she'll have an opportunity to make that legitimate. And that's fraught with all the difficulties that come with people who are in very different places in their lives [and] dating someone who is 12 or 13 years younger than you."
Goldstick revealed that Shield's character, a high level film executive, is also going to face many personal challenges this season. "Wendy's journey this season is very much about a huge shift in her domestic situation because her husband is working now. And that was sort of introduced last year because... she wanted him to pursue his dreams and pursue his ambition of composing and this season his career is going to take off, which causes a major shift."
Shields also promised that there is something for everyone on "Lipstick Jungle" and is confident on viewer's reaction to the show. "What we keep going back to and [what] keeps resonating is that chemistry and the characters and who they are and how different they all are... [the show] speaks to so many different people across the board and I think that like any relationship, you have to stick with it to really even know if you like it or don't like it." In going from year one to two, Shields added, "We tempted people last year and now finally this year... the show has gotten so much better... if [viewers] watch it, I don't doubt at all they'll become invested in it."
One of the major draws of the New York City-based series is undoubtedly the fashion that is almost like its own character on the series. When asked how involved she is with the way Wendy is dressed, Shields revealed that with the new season she "was asked to weigh in a bit more. And now... I'm more familiar with Wendy and there's this bit of a crossover between the two of us... but we really want her to be slightly more Bohemian in a way. I mean more eclectic in the way she mixes things together. Last year, there was a bit more of a corporate strictness to her and we all decided that it didn't relate to her character as such."
In a series that focuses on the lives of three vivacious women, where do the men fall in the scope of the "Lipstick Jungle" world? Shields was quick to say, "I think the most important thing about the way our male characters are portrayed is that we don't portray them [as] weak. And I don't believe that we diminish them in any way." With a strong intention on making the men just as three-dimensional as the women, she added "we sort of celebrate how much we need them and the need is different for each one of us. But I don't feel this is one of those shows where we paint these men as just pathetic, or stereotypical."
One male character that has become very popular with the audiences is actor Robert Buckley, who plays the often-shirtless younger man in Nico's life. While having some masculine eye candy around works for many of the viewers, Goldstick referred to the "chemistry between he and... Kim Raver that you can' t [predict]. There were great instincts and there was a great chemistry. And so I was inspired, and the other writers as well, to make him integral into the show. And, again, there are great stories to tell about that kind of relationship." The season premiere tonight shows how Buckley's Kirby re-enters Nico's life after she left him to try to make her marriage work at the end of last season. Like Wendy, Nico will also go through a huge domestic change this season.
In regards to luring male viewers, Goldstick isn't worried about at all about drawing them in. Having also worked on female driven shows like "Desperate Housewives" and "Ugly Betty," Goldstick believes that guys will get in the habit of watching and quickly be hooked. The men, he expressed "are mirrored towards their relationships with the women in their lives whether it be their mothers or siblings [and] the issues those women are going through. And there are men in this show, by the way, who are in these relationships that are going through things that our male audience is experiencing."
While the tone of the series successfully blends comedy and drama through all the storylines, Goldstick shared that the key to finding that balance is "finding the truth in those." With both comedic and dramatic writers on his staff, he shared "when we're breaking stories we look for both. Any dramatic story worth its weight has to have levity. We know there has to be a balance because you couldn't get [balance] with the most traumatic events without having something absurd happen. The comedy comes from these situations and these people that are behavioral and character-based. I think it's integral to the show and I don't think it has to service one or service the other."
Referring to the way women are portrayed on the series, Shields wanted to make clear that "We're not saying, 'Oh, every woman can have it all and still be glamorous.' You can want it all and I think it's very empowering to go for it all. There's always going to be a certain little bit � there's going to be a cost every day in some area." She referred to her own reality in making her point. "You know, currently my husband is in Los Angeles [and] that's tough for him not to see the girls everyday. So there's a little bit of a cost there but we work it out."
"Lipstick Jungle" premieres tonight at 10:00/9:00c on NBC.