After spending the better part of the past five years singing opposite some of the biggest names in music, Reba McEntire is returning to television. But this time, unlike her previous small screen success that was REBA, she’s going a little less country and a little more California. Malibu, California to be exact! Appropriately titled, MALIBU COUNTRY, Reba’s newest name de plume Reba Gallagher decides to not stand by her man and pack up her two kids and sharp-tongued southern mother (Played by Lily Tomlin) to begin a new chapter in her life upon discovering her hubby didn’t quite practice the family values that he preached in his music. We recently caught up with the country music legend to preview her new series, dish on whether or not fans can expect to see any of her former REBA co-stars drop by and her feelings on ABC’s NASHVILLE. See for yourself, after the jump.
When you last starred in REBA you were a relative newcomer to the television world. Did you ever imagine it would turn out to be the success that it was, and do you sense that similar kind of success in your new show MALIBU COUNTRY?
Reba McEntire: Absolutely not. I had no idea what the first REBA TV show would do. I was completely ignorant to everything about the television business but a lot of people — like [so-star] Chris Rich who had been in the TV business for a long time — said this is good, this will go and last a long time. And it did. REBA went 6 and a half years and I get the same feeling with MALIBU COUNTRY. I just have a really good feeling about it.
The set up of MALIBU COUNTRY is strikingly similar to that of REBA in that you play another wife who discovers she married a less than loyal husband. Why choose such a similar set-up?
The reason was because I loved the script, especially the sensibility between my the Reba character and her mother Lillie Mae [Lily Tomlin]. The relationship is very “young lady,” “yes you will,” “you do not speak to me like that.” It’s what we grew up with. Raising kids is setting boundaries and you don’t see that on television very much at all that I know of. So I love that aspect of it. The characters on MALIBU COUNTRY are very different from that of REBA so the characters will dictate different kinds of story lines.
One of the most challenging pieces to any successful comedy is casting the right kids. Do you think you’ve surrounded yourself with a good family?
Without a doubt. Juliette Angelo who plays my daughter is professional, bright, eager and always prepared. Same for Justin [Prentice] who plays my son Cash. He’s from here in Nashville and is so talented. I can see both of these kids going on to be huge stars. Plus, Jai Rodriguez, who was in Rent when I was in Annie Get Your Gun on Broadway, he’s so talented and funny. Then there’s Sara Rue and Lily Tomlin. We’ve got such a great family.
One of my favorite things about your time on your previous series was your interactions with the hilarious Melissa Peterman. Any chance we’ll see any of your former REBA co-stars pop up on the new show?
Maybe in the future, but that might be a little confusing for now. Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson and Martina McBride will be dropping by, but what we’ve got to do first is find that voice of our characters and because we’ve only filmed six episodes so far, we really have to get into the meat of our foundation before we branch out too much. That said, I’d love to work with Melissa, or JoAnna [Garcia], or Steve [Howie] or Chris Rich. We still all keep in touch, talk, text, lunch.
And finally, since your show is airing on the same network, I can’t let you go without asking for your take on NASHVILLE. Have you watched the show and did you ever find yourself at a point in your career where you were worried about being replaced by “the next big thing?”
I love NASHVILLE and have watched every episode. As for the “next big thing,” I always looked at it as being good for Country Music as a whole. When Garth Brooks hit, or Taylor Swift, Shania, or Alabama, it does so many great things for the entire industry. Newcomers, showing something a bit different bring in an entirely new generation of listeners and if someone is a huge fan of say, Taylor Swift, hopefully they’ll hear me sing and say I like her to.
MALIBU COUNTRY airs Fridays at 8:30PM on ABC (CityTV in Canada)