'GCB': Good Christian Belle Kristin Chenoweth talks ABC's newest primetime soap

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Image Credit: Richard Foreman/ABC

On Sunday, ABC premieres GCB, a primetime soap from Sex and the City creator Darren Star and Steel Magnolias writer Robert Harling starring Leslie Bibb as a reformed Mean Girl forced to return to Dallas with her two teens after her marriage ends in scandal and move in with her mother (Designing Women‘s Annie Potts). She wants to start over, but that’s difficult when the girls she used to terrorize in high school, led by spitfire¬†Carlene Cockburn, played by Kristin Chenoweth, still hold a grudge and now have the power to make her life hell.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The cast of Revenge calls the stare Emily VanCamp does on that show “the Croc,” short for crocodile. You definitely shoot some looks on this show. What would you nickname it?
KRISTIN CHENOWETH: Oh man, that’s a good question. I mean, it sounds very easy, but I think we should just call it The Cockburn. I think Carlene has a hard time covering up how she feels. I think she grew up covering up how she felt when she was being bullied by Amanda [Bibb]. And now that Amanda’s back, and Carlene’s redone herself, she is not gonna take this lying down. What I love about that, no matter what your faith or religion or what you believe, there are some people who just derail you. [Laughs]¬†I think Amanda derails Carlene. Amanda probably barely remembers it, which is how bullies are, but Carlene didn’t forget a thing. I think we’re gonna see Carlene and Amanda think maybe they’re different now, and then something will happen that will get them right back in that place. When I took the role, I talked to Darren and Bobby about what the layers were gonna be, and where was Carlene gonna go. I didn’t want it to just be one thing. The good news is she’s a very complicated woman, and that will come out for sure.

The women attend church every Sunday, where Carlene is a proud member of the choir. You sing in the first two episodes. Will that be something we see every episode, and if so, how will you top week 2’s “Jesus Take the Wheel” solo?
[Laughs] “Jesus Take the Wheel.” How she’s doing it and why, it’s so funny. I think not every episode. But Carlene does give herself a lot of the solos. I think you’ll see other people sing, and that’s not gonna go over well because she might feel threatened by that. [The show] lends itself so well to music. Just singin’ with an organ, how we do it in church, is fun. There is a song that we all get to do [later], and I love it. I can’t say what it is, but it’s from the ’60s. [Laughs] It’s good.

As a country fan, I love the music used in the show’s soundtrack, songs from Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan, and Dierks Bentley. As someone who has a country album to her credit, you must love that. Are there any artists you’re pushing to have on the show?
I love all those artists. I’d love to see Carrie Underwood come on our show. Trace Adkins has become a friend of mine, and I’d love to see him come on. Maybe he’s Carlene’s bodyguard, I don’t know. It could be funny.

He’s probably even taller than David James Elliott [who plays Carlene’s husband, Ripp].
[Laughs] He’s definitely taller.

Speaking of David James Elliott, I love how randy Ripp is. What is the most outlandish place we’ll see them get frisky?
I think those two get frisky anywhere. Work, home, of course, they’d never do it at church, but… [Laughs] I think they’re pretty happily married, and Carlene’s whole view on that is she came from his rib, so whatever it takes to keep the man happy, she will do. I don’t know how we got so lucky [casting Elliott]. I remember getting the call, and I was like, “What? Are you kidding me?” What I love for David is that people get to see him totally differently and what a funny guy he is. I just love their relationship. It makes me happy that ABC is showing a couple who actually enjoys being together. [Laughs] Um, anyways…

They enjoy it a lot.
They do.

We get early hints that there might be a hidden reason why Ripp is willing to help out Amanda. Is that mystery solved quickly or something that will take us through many episodes?
I think it will take you through many episodes. What’s so great is you see Ripp’s heart. He’s got such a good heart. But ultimately, he’s a piranha businessman. So yeah, we’ll definitely see the whys and wheres of that over the 10 episodes.

Tease one other story line we should be looking forward to.
I think Carlene may or may not have been in a bad hunting accident. I’ll just leave it at that.

Read more:
ABC’s ‘GCB’ swears it won’t peeve Christians
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