Television

Second Chances

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New summer dramedy ‘Drop Dead Diva’ is to die for. Plus The Wendy Williams Show and Margaret Cho.

By Nancy Ford

DDD
DDD's Deb (Brooke D'Orsay, l) and Jane (Brooke Elliot), despite appearances, aren't describing “the one that got away.”

The folks tasked with describing to the press Drop Dead Diva, a new series debuting on Lifetime this month, as a “feel-everything” show, as opposed to “feel-good” show, are right: you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll crave doughnuts.

Drop Dead Diva works off the premise established by that classic trio of testosterone-dominated feature films, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Heaven Can Wait, and the more contemporary Chris Rock vehicle, Down to Earth: big yucks are followed by valuable life lessons when a live person’s body is inhabited by a dead person’s spirit. Here, Brooke Elliott plays Jane Bingum, an overworked, overweight attorney with a heart of gold inhabited by the spirit of the much hipper, much thinner, much shallower Deb, played by Brooke D’Orsay. Try not to get your Brookes confused.

Much like Secret deodorant and most Lifetime Television programming, DDD is strong enough for a man, but made for a woman. This time, the pseudo-reincarnation speaks to themes of image, self-esteem, and the oh-so-heavenly gift of self-acceptance—all traits both Jane and April needed to work on at the time of their untimely deaths.

Think Ugly Betty, with a funeral.

DDD‘s largely unfamiliar supporting cast is lead by an immensely subdued

Margaret Cho (about whom we were just wondering why we hadn’t seen in so long), who plays Jane’s supportive yet not-nearly-sassy-enough-for-our-taste legal assistant. Other guest stars popping in for various episodes include Tim Gunn, Sharon Lawrence, Kathy Najimy, Elliott Gould, Chuck Woolery, and Deidrich Bader. As if that lineup weren’t enough to entice Lifetime-loving viewers, Rosie O’Donnell also guests in the new series’ second episode—a natural fit, considering Elliott, a remarkably gifted new actress, performed in O’Donnell’s unfortunately named, ill-fated 2007 Broadway show, Taboo . Let’s hope that historical footnote doesn’t sink this admittedly light but still entertaining summer series.

The real mark of this show’s success will be determined by whether or not fans embrace Deb’s (and now Jane’s) good luck charm of painting one pinkie nail the attention-grabbing shade of “ironic taffy blue.” But since, technically, both women are pretty much dead, how lucky could that practice be? July 12, 8 p.m. Lifetime (lifetimetv.com).

The Wendy Williams Show

Famous for telling fans, “You only love me because I’m messy!” the NYC radio personality/author expands into syndicated daytime talk show television. Rob Dauber (who has earned multiple Emmys working with Rosie O’Donnell, Martha Stewart, and Oprah Winfrey) produces, so expect big things. July 13. wendyshow.com. Preview: N.F.

Margaret Cho: Beautiful

Oh, here she is. Cho dissects the nature of beauty and the importance society has placed on it in a special that is part of the Showtime’s new “Laugh Out Loud” comedy initiative, that promises “diverse, no-holds-barred comedy,” but, so far, no gay comics. July 3, 10 p.m. Showtime (sho.com).

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