“Made in Jersey” series creator Dana Calvo was, in fact, made in New Jersey and plans to see to it that her home state is represented well in the legal drama debuting on CBS this fall.
From “The Sopranos” to “Jersey Shore” to “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” New Jersey’s bad rap in pop culture is near legendary.
“This is a valentine to a state that I don’t think gets a lot of good press,” Calvo told TV critics Sunday at the TCA Summer Press Tour in Beverly Hills. “I just want to get past all the New Jersey stereotypes,” said the Jersey native, adding, “If one more person asks me what exit I live off of, I’ll kick them in the neck.”
“We don’t want to make a caricature,” adds leading lady Janet Montgomery. “This isn’t a reality show… There’s enough Jersey reality shows.” The relatively unknown British actress — yes, producers cast a Brit as its Jersey girl — has appeared on HBO’s “Entourage” and in Darren Aronofsky’s dark ballet film, “Black Swan.”
To help get into her character, Montgomery says she studied Mira Sorvino (“Mighty Aphrodite”) and Melanie Griffith’s “Working Girl” to perfect her Jersey accent for the show.
Montgomery plays Martina Garretti, a working class girl from a big Italian family in New Jersey, who uses her sass and smarts to keep up with her more sophisticated, cutthroat colleagues at a prestigious New York City law firm.
Now you know why they are worried about cliches.
But Calvo insists, “It’s an Upstairs, Downstairs kind of show about a girl with the heart of a lion.”
Meanwhile, costar Kyle MacLachlan, who plays the law firm’s founder Donovan Stark, got a laugh from TV reporters when he refused to answer a question about “Jersey Shore’s” Snooki and JWoww — “on the grounds it may incriminate me at a later time.”
“Made in Jersey” premieres Friday, Sept. 28 at 9/8c on CBS.