'Wives' Spins Shades Of 'Golden Girls,' Sisters May Get Show
By ROBERT RORKE
Last updated: 11:00 am May 12, 2009
ARE you ready for a new "Golden Girls"?
Lily Tomlin and Kathryn Joosten, who play scheming sisters Roberta and Karen McCluskey on "Desperate Housewives," are in talks to play those roles as stars of their own series, a spinoff of the ABC hit.
Joosten, who first endeared herself to viewers as White House presidential secretary Mrs. Landingham on NBC's "The West Wing," has been with the show since 2004. Seen first as the sarcastic neighbor, Mrs. McCluskey, Joosten's character has grown in recent years to a solid supporting role, even though she only has guest-star billing.
Tomlin, who replaced Joosten as "The West Wing" presidential secretary after Landingham was killed off, first appeared this season. In a recurring role, Roberta was brought in to help her sister gain info on Wisteria Lane psycho Dave Williams (Neal McDonough) by searching his insurance claims and telephone records.
"Roberta is a shady person. She is one of those fringe people who would do anything," says Tomlin who, like Joosten, will turn 70 this year.
Creating a show around two older women would certainly swim against the tide of modern, youth-obsessed TV.
But it's been done before -- most successfully in the sitcom "Golden Girls," an unlikely hit of the late '80s and early '90s that is still in reruns.
It's not clear whether the proposed series, which is still untitled, would be produced by "Desperate" creator Marc Cherry or if Tomlin's partner, award-winning writer Jane Wagner, would be involved.
"Cherry clearly knows how to write for these two actresses," says a source close to the production. "And we would love to have him involved."
The continued popularity of "Desperate Housewives," which has been renewed for a sixth season, makes any of its characters prime candidates for a spinoff. But Joosten and Tomlin have beaten main stars Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Eva Longoria Parker and Marcia Cross to the punch.
As a duo, Tomlin and Joosten are famous for their powers of persuasion. When Joosten informed Tomlin she was going to have a sister on the show, the "Laugh-In" veteran came right out and said she would love to be on the show.
"She got to her agent and said why don't you call Marc Cherry?" Joosten recalls.
Unlike Karen McCluskey, Tomlin's character doesn't currently reside on "Desperate's" Wisteria Lane and modifications to the basic story would have to be made to let her live there.