Throughout the summer, the backlot tram tour of Universal Studios Hollywood has delighted tourists by showing them the idyllic neighborhood known as Wisteria Lane. It is the setting for all the drama, comedy and mystery on the ultra-popular ABC series Desperate Housewives. As the trams pass the familiar looking houses, it would not be unusual to hear fans shout out, “There’s Bree’s perfect home” and “There’s where Susan hid in the bushes naked.”
So it was a treat to start off the summer press tour for the Television Critics Association with a visit to the set and catch up with the lovely ladies of Wisteria Lane. I joined the rest of the TV writers who were shuttled to the location, and we were greeted by producer-creator Marc Cherry, producer Bob Daily, plus stars Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria and, new to the show, Vanessa Williams. Cherry really belongs in this neighborhood, living just a few minutes away from the Universal set. “I could walk to work if I wanted,” he told me, adding “but I don’t.”
Teri Hatcher was unable to attend that day, but one of the first things Cherry revealed about the upcoming seventh season was that Susan (Hatcher), who had financial problems that forced her to leave Wisteria Lane at the end of last season, is determined to move back. And she’ll be involved with a shady Internet deal that will have the fabulous Lanie Kazan guest starring for that story arc.
Cherry recalled running into Kazan at a party a few years, “and she came up to me and said, ‘You know what you need on Westeria Lane? A Jew.’ It took me a few years, but I finally got her aboard.” He added with a smile, “I really can’t walk into a party in Beverly Hills without women of a certain age assaulting me for work.”
Longoria wasn’t shy about saying that she’s always after Cherry to hire some Latinos to play the relatives of her character Gabby. “I keep telling Marc, if this were reality, I’d have a lot more cousins and aunts and uncles.”
Although Cherry was charmingly elusive about storyline specifics, he did hint that they’ll be following the mystery of a baby switched. And, as always, there will be a lot of conflict with the housewives. “What I learned on The Golden Girls [he was a writer-producer]is that you want your ensemble of ladies to be very close and very friendly, but it’s even funnier when they’re in conflict.”
Sure to shake things up is Vanessa Williams. “I just fell in love with her (Vanessa) and knew that she was capable of doing some wicked comedy based on her performance on Ugly Betty,” Cherry said.
Williams will play the wife of a professional athlete going through marital problems. Longoria (who is marry to NBA player Tony Parker) noted that “Marc takes a lot of stuff from my real life,” but not the stuff about marital problems. Cherry added that Williams is playing “Renee Perry, a wealthy woman with glamour and style, but her background is completely different. She’s Lynette’s [Huffman] best ‘frenemy’ from college.”
Williams described the relationship as “very competitive with Lynette, and that will be fun. Felicity loves it because she gets a chance to be funny trading quips.” Cherry promised that the first episode of the new season “has the best [witchy]dialogue we’ve ever done on the show.”
Much sweeter will be the scenes between Lynette and her young daughter played by Darcy Rose Byrnes, who joins the cast as a regular this season. Huffman calls the stunning little actress “a real pro, she’s been doing this along time.” Byrnes had a recurring as Abby Carlton on The Young and the Restless for many years.
Marcia Cross confirmed that Brian Austin Green will be coming on to play her love interest. She said there’s a lot of “chemistry” between them. “He’s a younger, blue-collar guy. A contractor I hire, and there will be a little competition for him. I’m looking forward to playing out what it’s like for Bree to be dating again, after so long.” Apparently she’s single again, but still deliciously desperate.