Drop Dead Diva is like the TV version of Shallow Hal – but with more depth. And the ravenous appetite of its fans has sustained it for four seasons. Debashine Thangevelo found out what’s on the cards for lead actress Brooke Elliott, with creator Josh Berman giving the lowdown on what he has planned for this season; especially with Kim Kardashian’s ironic role as a relationship expert…
AT 39, Brooke Elliott’s résumé is short. This is surprising as she is an exceptional actress. She starred in the film What Women Want, made a cameo in Law & Order and has a handful of musical credits.
She was pretty much a virgin to the TV landscape until Drop Dead Diva. Four seasons in, that no longer holds true.
Viewers loved the karmic twist in the plot with model Deborah “Deb” Dobkins getting a second chance at being a better person – in the fuller-figured body of lawyer Jane Bingum.
Naturally, Deb’s overriding narcissistic personality is dealt a heavy blow, while she is forced to also navigate her way through some important life lessons.
This season, Jane returns from Italy (with beau Owen French, played by Lex Medlin, in toe) to defend Emily Horn, a former law school classmate – and a wealthy one to boot – who is charged with murdering her former boyfriend, Troy Minder. Things don’t look good for Emily with some damning evidence stacked against her.
Meanwhile, there is still the unresolved issue of Stacy having kissed Grayson (Deb’s former fiancé). And, making matters worse, Jane learns that Luke Daniels (Carter MacIntrye), who works as the law firm’s new investor, has replaced Fred as her guardian angel.
Chatting about Brooke’s feelings for Grayson this season, Elliott says: “That’s so confusing for Jane. Her love life is going to be such a roller-coaster this season. I’m actually really excited to hear what the fans think about it. You know, she’s with Owen. We left her at the finale of season three going off to Italy with Owen and that relationship does blossom and move forward. And yet there’s Grayson and he kind of keeps popping in every once in a while. Grayson’s feelings actually start to change a little bit. He starts to entice Jane and while Jane doesn’t really see that at first, she obviously always notices Grayson. She’s always torn because she really does love Owen, but Grayson’s kind of always in the back of her heart, if that makes any sense.”
On Medlin being the twist in this Catch-22, creator Josh Berman shares: “Lex is such a wonderful person and phenom- enal actor. Whenever you are lucky enough to get someone like that on to an ensemble, especially an ensemble that’s so cohesive like ours, it’s really wonderful. And as a writer, you want to write that.
“Originally, we brought Lex in for just a couple of episodes and I think we all fell in love with him and then made him a series regular. And he has allowed us to take Jane’s character in another direction.
“I think the Jane of season one wouldn’t have seen herself falling in love with anybody else, let alone Owen. She is Deb and is so in love with Grayson. After three years, her character has grown so much – she has opened her heart to love somebody other than Grayson.”
Sadly, Drop Dead Diva had to bid farewell to Ben Feldman (Fred) – the actor was poached by Mad Men.
As for juggling two person- alities – and doing justice to juggling Deb and Jane – Elliot admits: “You know what? I continue to enjoy the blend of Deb and Jane. It is Deb’s soul in Jane’s body so there’s no soul fighting going on and it’s always Deb’s perspective. But as she grows and changes and really, you know, is in Jane’s life and so essentially is Jane, I love finding that mixture, little quirks and things like that. The script analysis-part of the show has always been one of my favourite parts and remains so.”
One of the drawcards this season is Kim Kardashian, making a cameo as Nikki LePree, a (cough, choke) relationship expert. That she wants to break into the acting scene – and has bagged a few hyped guest appearances – does not translate into her being an actress. Let’s face it, she and a script are about as compatible as Kanye West and Taylor Swift.
And her butt always steals the limelight anyway.
Berman comments: “I’m ecstatic to welcome Kim to the Diva family. In discussing the role of Nikki with her, I’m blown away by her smarts, sense of humour and passion. This series is all about reinvention and I’m excited to see Kim ‘reinvented’ in the world of Drop Dead Diva.”
By the way, Patty Duke, John Ratzenberger, Brandy Norwood, Serena Williams, Joan Rivers, Dylan Walsh, Ashley Jones and Kelly Osbourne also make cameos this season.
Drop Dead Diva is pulling out all the stops (celebrity-wise), with a myriad curveballs thrown into the playground where vanity meets reality.
• Drop Dead Diva airs on M-Net Series Showcase (DStv channel 113) on Tuesday at 6.30pm.