We are really looking forward to Lipstick Jungle on NBC, which stars the beautiful Brooke Shields and features Candace Bushnell as Executive Producer. The show is based on Candace’s bestselling book by the same name (a book that has been majorly stealing all of my free time lately–seriously, it’s that good!), and centers around three strong and confident career women living in NY. We got a chance to dish with Brooke and Candace about the pros and difficulties of having a show focusing on women, the comparisons that the show is drawing to Cashmere Mafia and Sex and the City, and the nerves that come about from having to shoot sexy lingerie scenes! The show premieres February 7 at 10pm on NBC.
On whether there are successful professional women out there who are “okay” and whether Brooke would categorize herself as one:
Brooke: I absolutely would categorize myself as one of them. I think you can be successful and still be extremely present in a healthy life. I think these women are showing us – the women of Lipstick are saying to us that it’s okay to be successful and it’s also okay to be happy with your success even though it might not be easy.So I think it’s not a dumb question at all. I think that these women – I know my character – we all struggle. I’m not saying any successful woman’s life is without struggle. But it doesn’t mean it has to be miserable.
On whether there is more scrutiny on female-based shows than on male-based shows:
Candace: I think that female viewers love these shows and the response that I’ve gotten from women on the show, Lipstick Jungle, so far has just been overwhelmingly positive. And in fact, I’ve had women begging me for the third episode. I – you know, I think that probably the scrutiny comes from, you know, who is scrutinizing the show. And, you know, there’s certainly some people who have very particular tastes in TV. And, you know, there are other people who, you know, are absolutely looking for these kinds of shows and love them. And I think there is a huge female audience out there that is frankly dying for a show like Lipstick Jungle.
Brooke: I also think — just to add to that — that there’s a – I mean, if you’re talking about that there’s more lenience – that there’s a more leniency towards male driven shows, I also think a lot of the male driven shows are in a very different arena. It’s not – you don’t see very many just male driven shows where there are successful – three or four successful men. And, you know, I mean, I think you do – there’s – I think that there’s more of an appetite for certain types of shows, so that when a show like this comes and it’s female in what is previously considered a more male dominated world, it’s going to get more scrutiny.
Candace: And, you know, the other reality – this is Candace talking. This – you know, traditionally the shows where women are “successful,” the parts are limited to basically doctors and lawyers. And, you know, this is a different kind of show. It’s a drama and it’s not a procedural. So I think that people do look at these shows a little bit differently.
Brooke on “the other show,” Cashmere Mafia, and whether audiences may confuse both:
Well unfortunately I haven’t seen the other show. We’ve been so busy working on our show, working on Lipstick Jungle and making it the best that we can, that I actually haven’t seen it. One thing that I absolutely love about our show is I think there’s a real truth there. I think there’s a poignancy and I think there’s a reality to the show. And we’ve worked very, very hard on the tone of the show in making sure that it’s not too broad. And I think the show just works. As Andrew McCarthy said, “It’s a good watch.” And I think that people just want to watch a good show. And I have got to tell you, this is a good show. It’s a darn good show.
Brooke on Lipstick Jungle being compared to Sex and the City:
Oh, I would – first, this is Brooke answering. I would very quickly say that we’re a completely different book. You know, I think the pedigree that comes with that title is a wonderful thing. I have such respect for Candace. I loved Sex and the City. The comparison really stops there just because we are a completely different novel, basically. So – and again, just sort of limited to only three or four women would be silly. You know, I’m – I find that it’s a fabulous initial response because people that loved Sex and the City will not be disappointed. People that might not have been familiar — although I’m sure there are no people unfamiliar with it — will be pleasantly surprised by the newness of this.
On having three-dimensional male characters on the show, not just “jerk faces”:
Brooke: We love them. We celebrate them. We need them. We realize who we are with and without them. And we don’t have to negate them to augment our own selves. And I think that’s really important because it’s reality.
Brooke on a particular scene where she confidently towers over a man and tells him off:
I don’t think I ever wished I was shorter. The tall jokes have been a part of my life ever since I was a child. And if there’s one thing both my mom and my dad taught me, it’s to just embrace everything you have and think positively about it. So if it can be used for humor, then I’m the first one — even if it’s self-deprecating.
On whether Brooke was set to play the part of Wendy from the beginning:
Brooke: From my perspective I was always interested in Wendy. I’m not quite sure what all the powers that be – what they thought. I – Candace will probably answer that better. But when I first read the book, when it first came out, I immediately loved it but also identified with Wendy, and had been talking to NBC about it for quite awhile. So I never thought of anything else. But maybe they thought of something else. I’m not sure. Candace?
Candace: No. We absolutely loved Brooke playing Wendy. And for me personally, to have Brooke playing Wendy is – it’s just a dream come true.
On whether there is a fantasy element in the show, pertaining to one of the characters dating a millionaire while her career is struggling:
Candace: Well, Victory’s storyline is a reality believe it or not. There is – you know, of course this is – Lipstick Jungle is a TV show and there is an element of wish fulfillment. But the truth is, the storylines are really the kinds of things that happen to women in New York. You know, we’ve got a couple of millionaires out there and, you know, they do call the single women. And I know that that storyline may seem a little bit of a wish fulfillment but I think the way it’s played really keeps it in reality. And I think the, you know, the point of that story is that, you know, the idea of a billionaire coming and rescuing you is every woman’s steaming fantasy. But the reality is that Victory understands that, you know, her own life is as interesting and as important.
Brooke: No. But, you know, you and I, Candace have talked about this in (unintelligible) talking. It’s also that, you know, especially money and people with a lot of it – and especially in New York, that is what happens with money. It saves other people. That’s what a lot of people with money do. They use or access their money to become heroes in other areas. I mean, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing but it is a reality, especially in New York. I mean, you do see it. It’s not so far fetched from – but what I also sort of don’t want to lose sight of is that at the very baseline, so to speak or at the bottom line, we are on network television and we are in the entertainment industry. So we have to allow ourselves to not have to reconcile too much when it comes to just also being entertaining. I mean, I think what’s good about how we are entertaining is that we can afford to be entertaining with what seems to be wish fulfillment as long as the people that are – that we’re following are grounded in their own reality.
On whether the show would work with the main protagonists as lunch ladies and hairdressers instead of media moguls and fashion designers:
Candace: Well I – you know, I think one of the things that’s very important to understand about Lipstick Jungle is that the show – the book, and the whole concept was really inspired by real women and a new paradigm of a career woman, and a working woman. It happens to take place in New York. But one of the initial things that inspired me to write the book is the fact that 30% of married women make more money than their husbands. Thirty percent of married women take, you know, work and are the breadwinners for their families, which is something that surprised me and really inspired me. And having traveled all around the country, I will tell you that this Lipstick Jungle paradigm is not just high powered career women in New York. It’s women who are managers at Wal-Mart and I’ve met these women. And they’re closer to Lipstick Jungle women than one might think, you know. I – one of them said hey, you know, I make all the money in my family and when I get home, I tell my husband he better have a cold beer waiting.
On casting and auditioning for the show:
Brooke: But I will say – I mean, all three of us did actually audition. I mean, you know, I mean, yes it’s nice to just sort of say everything was given to us. But I mean, you know, Kim — who is on two shows currently — Lindsay who was on – who had just finished another show. I mean, we had all – you know, it’s not about – it’s sort of about also we all went out for this. I mean, each one of us did audition and it was about finding the right chemistry, you know. Not – it wasn’t a question whether we could do it or not. It was a question if we were all right and if we all worked together. So I think we all kind of fought and prayed on our own.
Brooke on finding out that she would have to do substantial love scenes:
Well first of all, when we signed up all of us were basically signing on to kind of a 9:00 show. Once we became a 10:00 show and we were all taking a trip to the lingerie shop, and practically all crying – I think it was a bit sprung on us. So it wasn’t actually knowledgeable. I thought I would be more the comic relief and I’m turning out to be – I have as many love scenes as the other girls do. So I – you know, I’m really pretty proud to be a mom of two and able to, you know, put on the wardrobe they give to me and not need the body double. So I guess it’s a shout out to women to say, you know, you should be proud of what your body looks like at this age. And why not? If you, you know, have the right light and you can show it off.
Brooke on what they are currently shooting:
There are – we had seven prior to the writer’s strike. So there will only be seven completed. And we’ve finished filming – right now we’re doing five, six and seven simultaneously – sort of like a movie.