Television

Who’s That Girl?

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Tracey Ullman isn’t acting like herself. But that’s her job.

By Nancy Ford

TraceyasTracey
Tracey as Tracey

Most Americans first met the multi-talented, fresh-faced Tracey Ullman via her 1984 pop video hit “They Don’t Know,” which featured an unlikely cameo appearance by Paul McCartney. But how long has Ullman been tickling our funny bones and tweaking our imaginations with her seemingly limitless cast of characters?

Her first U.S comedy sketch show, Fox Television’s The Tracey Ullman Show, introduced The Simpsons as a cartoon short; The Simpsons recently aired its 20th anniversary episode.

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Tracey Ullman as Renee Zellweger

My, how time flies when you’re pretending to be somebody else!

All these years and rubber prosthetics later, Ullman and her character study tour-de-force The State of the Union have been picked up by Showtime for a second go-’round.

Though the multi-Emmy-winning Ullman brought home no statuettes for State of the Union ‘s three nominations for its first season, the show itself is, perhaps, its own reward. Viewers feel a certain sense of victory when we detect a glimmer of Ullman under all that makeup and

masking as she portrays America in the age of Obama—love it or lampoon it—as only she can.

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Tracey as Tom Brokaw

In her sophomore season, there is much making-up and masking: the chameleon-like Ullman’s repertoire consists of send-ups of Renee Zellweger, Arianna Huffington, Andy Rooney, Jodie Foster, and other famous and not-so-famous targets. But her cross-dressing portrayal of Tom Brokaw is so visually spot-on, it’s actually a little creepy.

Ullman shares SOTU ‘s executive producer credit with her husband, Allan McKeown, but writes the season’s seven episodes herself.

April 12, 9 p.m. Showtime (sho.com).

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