The New Mad Men? ‘Trust Me’ A 2009 Ad-Man Show

In the wake of “Mad Men’s” Emmy and Golden Globe success, it is easy to draw comparisons to other shows. One such show is TNT’s “Trust Me,” set in the modern-day advertising world of Chicago. Starring Eric McCormack and Tom Cavanagh (“Ed”), “Trust Me” is an hour-long drama that premieres January 26. “Mad Men,” set in the 1960’s advertising industry, is similar only in theme, says one “Trust Me’s” stars.

“I am a fan of [“Mad Men”], I think they do a great job,” Sarah Clarke tells Fancast. “Beyond that, there isn’t really this idea of how are they doing their ad show. It’s thought of as a completely different entity … It would be like comparing ‘ER’ with ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ maybe, if ‘ER’ was set in the 60s.

“The similarity being that it’s about advertising,” Clarke says. “But that being a period piece and trying to explore some of the underbelly of what’s going on with the chances as opposed to what’s going, it’s the 60s, people were not as straight forward in their lives. In ‘Trust Me,’ present day, we’ve evolved. So we’re much more straight-forward in our feelings. Men are able to articulate what they feel. In that sense, it’s a different show. They’re both doctor shows, they both deal with people in relationships and have crises that happen. But they’re very different tones.”

Clarke, 36, plays McCormack’s wife Erin McGuire in “Trust Me,” juggling taking care of two children with an advertising career. Below is the conversation.

Q: Why did you like “Trust Me” and what happens this season?

SC: What I love about it is it’s a fantastic cast, with Griffin Dunne, etc. It’s just a lot of fun people to work with. The producers have really created a fun world for people to be in. It’s set present day Chicago in the advertising world. It’s basically showing the antics and stresses of working in advertising today, but with a lot of humor.

Q: What are some of the episodes about?

SC: It seems that each show centers around an account or something that might crop up at the office. They get some kind of resolution. But mainly it’s just the stories within the characters. You find out the back story to Griffin [Dunne]’s character. That he’s got family issues. Certainly in Eric and I’s home, you see different issues coming up with two children, your family life and job. And then Conner is played by Tom Cavanagh. He’s still dealing with past relationships coming back to haunt him. But it all seems to circle around what’s going on around the office, and different accounts, how they deal with it. It’s hard to put in a nutshell, because it’s not like they have a murder and have to solve it. There is the problem-solving with dealing with accounts, is the best way to put it.

Q: What is your character about and who are most of your relationships with?

SC: My character is married to Eric McCormack, who plays Mason McGuire. I guess the crux of my character is I have two kids. I’m raising them in the suburbs, but I left it to raise them. And I’m sort of waking up from a 10-year nap. I’m trying to sort of rediscover who I was before I became a mother and wife and how to keep my marriage interesting. It all sounds very mundane, but they manage to make it fun and exciting.

Q: What is Eric like and how do you keep the chemistry rolling?

SC: He’s a quick wit. I’m always there to laugh for him. Mainly the stuff they were trying to show with me and him, were how relationships can go fallow if you don’t nurture them and especially if you become a workaholic, which she does. We liked each other’s take on the character. It’s easy because it’s so real and entertaining.

Q: It wasn’t like doing “Will and Grace”?

SC: It’s a definite departure in that he’s not always there to tell a joke. He has to deal with real issues. I guess they’re saying it’s a drama but it’s more of a dramedy. It’s not like “CSI,” where the gravitas is more dominant. They’re having more fun in love and they laugh in the face of adversity.

Q: What were some of the hijinks on set?

SC: It’s more people laughing, and riffing off camera. Who knows, by season five maybe we’ll have more entertainment, jokes on each other. The main thing is just a general ease and good-naturedness. It’s contagious. Everybody is having a good time.

Q: Who was funniest off camera?

SC: Most of my stuff is with Eric. He’s always funny. Tom Cavanagh is notorious. He’s the one that’s improvising the most. He’s always got something going on whether the camera is rolling or not.

Q: How much influence of your creators’ shows “Nip-Tuck” and “The Closer” is in “Trust Me”?

SC: Well, so far no one has had plastic surgery, so that’s good. I don’t know particularly. I do know in terms of “The Closer” it’s a more serious drama-driven show. In that sense, they know how to deal with relationships in a very meaningful way. For the most part, the creators were in advertising for 15 years before they came to Hollywood to start writing. Really I think this is a departure for them from their previous work. It’s something that’s very personal for them. As far as Greer Shepard and Michael Robin, I’m not seeing a huge parallel, I think they just like to do quality work. I think that’s what following over.

Q: Do you like “Mad Men”? Are there similarities between it and “Trust Me”?

SC: The similarity being that it’s about advertising. I am a fan of the show. I think they do a great job. But that being a period piece and trying to explore some of the underbelly of what’s going on with the chances as opposed to what you’re seeing. It’s the 60s. People were not as straight forward in their lives. In “Trust Me,” present day, we’ve evolved. So we’re much more straight-forward in our feelings. Men are able to articulate what they feel. In that sense it’s a different show. It would be like comparing “ER” with “Grey’s Anatomy” maybe, if “ER” was set in the 60s. They’re both doctor shows, they both deal with people in relationships and have crises that happen, but they’re very different tones.

Q: Do you guys talk about “Mad Men”?

SC: Not really. We know [about it]. There is crossover in that people know each other from the cast. But beyond that there isn’t really this idea of how are they doing their ad show. It’s thought of as a completely different entity.

Q: Who will guest star?

SC: There are definitely guest stars and we’ve had fun ones. It’s something where you have, one guy Greg Ellis, he’s recurring, has a great through-line his character. The woman, I won’t give it away, but who plays the boss of the company. She recurs throughout. They’re using very realistic people to play these ad execs. It would be almost distracting if it’s, ‘Oh my God, it’s Julia Roberts plating the CEO of this company.’ You want to believe you’re in this world.

Q: Your birthday is February 16 – any big plans?

SC: I don’t have big plans I advance. Mainly because life is so crazy with working and we’re trying to do a remodel, about to move back in. I’m sure we’ll do something but nothing outrageous. It’s not a big year.

Q: You’re remodeling experts?

SC: We are now. We’ve been working on it for a while. We started in January last year and were able to live through the first half, but then we had to move out of the house for the second phase, which is just now finishing. We’re moving in. So, a whole new house!

Q: What was working with Tom Cavanagh like?

SC: I worked with him on “Ed” many years ago and had a blast doing that. We’ve gotten maybe three scenes together so far. I love Griffin Dunne and wish I had more scenes with him because he’s so funny. Monica as well. They get to work a lot together, Me I’m usually at home. Eric is fun, I’m glad I get to work with him, you want to work with everyone. In this next episode, I get to see more people so that’s exciting.

Q: What’s it been like since being in “Twilight”?

SC: I have been talking to a lot of people because they love the books and movie. I hope I’m coming back. They haven’t said yet. Mainly because they like to keep everything so secret. I play Stella’s mom, and I have a lot of trials in the second book. I know I’m in the book. It depends whether they want the mom there for her when she’s going through everything. I hope I come back.

Q: Has it changed your life?

SC: It’s great to be associated with a big hit. Certainly that’s positive. In terms of changing my life, I haven’t noticed personally, but then again I keep to myself. I think people are excited when you’re in a good product, but I hope they feel that way about “Trust Me.” I’m really proud of that too.

Q: What would your fantasy part be?

SC: I’d love to do a period piece and wear costumes. Maybe turn of the century of 20s because the clothes are so great. I feel like it[s always fun when you’re truly transported the way movies can do that into another time.

Q: Like Keira Knightley?

SC: Well, Keira Knightley has sort of cornered the market on those. Sure they would be great. She’s been able to tell some great stories. I think more than anything it’s about being transported to another time.

Q: You did “24” – are you going to come back?

SC: Before Tony [Almeida] was brought back, I would always say no way. But now that’s been brought back, who knows. They always laugh and say somehow maybe I may be resurrected. I don’t put it past them, those guys are genius. They haven’t said anything yet.

Q: Do you stay in touch with anyone from the show still?

SC: I saw Howard Gordon about three months ago. Of course I see my husband everyday. Other than that I haven’t seen … Greg Ellis, who was on “24,” is on “Trust Me.” He keeps in touch with some people from the show. It’s all the same community.

Q: What’s next?

SC: I just found out a film I did last fall got picked up South by Southwest. Great cast, basically the story of six women and how their stories intertwining, very Almodovar.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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