Sunday, January 8, 2012

Jane by Design's Andie MacDowell Shares about the Show

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

If you haven't been reading for long, let me let you in on a secret: I love ABCFamily. I watch quite a few of their shows, and tend to enjoy their original movies as well. And that's before we look at the old reruns of favorite 80s and 90s shows that they air. So, every time I hear about what they've got cooking, I'm interested in giving it a try. Sometimes I come up with a new favorite (like Switched at Birth!), and sometimes it's something I can't stand (I'm in the small camp who doesn't like Pretty Little Liars, for instance).

The premise of Jane by Design really reminded me of Christina Applegate's character in Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead. It never occurred to me that it would strike a different chord with others. But, in a recent group interview with Andie MacDowell, several others commented on the similarity between it and The Devil Wears Prada. In fact, I began to wonder if I was the only one drawing that parallel, as it wasn't exactly a recent movie, nor was it a blockbuster. So, I actually asked Andie MacDowell if she had heard anyone mention the correlation between the two, and she couldn't recall even ever hearing of the movie! Now, after seeing the pilot, I will admit that there are some striking differences. But, I think Jane by Design is slightly closer to Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead than it is to The Devil Wears Prada. In the end, though, it really doesn't matter.

If you were looking forward to a recap & my own remarks on Jane by Design, I'm sorry to disappoint. At this time, TheTalkingBox does not have plans to cover this new show, though we wish it well. If you are enjoying what you've seen so far of the new series, we hope that you enjoy the facts below, taken from the aforementioned Q&A with Andie MacDowell.

Let's begin with what brought her to Jane by Design: "I just feel really fortunate that I've found a place that I feel like I have something to offer. That's important to me, to feel like I may have something unique to offer to a character that hopefully would have some kind of longevity and you could bring something to the table." That's always a good point. Sometimes it's incredibly difficult to figure out what *you* bring to something that nobody else does. I know that I've struggled with that multiple times in various arenas. One more thing that she pointed out: "The writing is really good. That's fun. You can't do good work without great writing." True. 

courtesy of ABC Family Media
Now, let's talk about MacDowell's character on Jane by Design, Gray Chandler. If you didn't know, Andie MacDowell started off in the fashion industry, so she was able to pull some character inspiration from that: "I worked with some really incredible, very powerful, very strong fashion editors." She went on to mention one in particular who "sort of discovered me in a way, whose name was Polly Mellen," who also serves as part of her inspiration. When asked what she admires about her character (always an interesting question!), her response was that, "It's finding the opportunity to find humor within the ridiculous attitude that she has toward work... there are so many people out there like that that are highly demanding. They're all about the work. There's just nothing else in their life. They expect everybody else to be that, and it's just accepted that that's the way the world runs. I guess that would be it for me, and finding the humor in that." If you've never stopped to think about this, you should. I know there have been countless examples over time that look at how workaholic some people are, but it's reality. Luckily, there are other pluses to playing Gray. The wardrobe includes Alexander McQueen, Gucci, and Vivienne Westwood, for starters! "I played so many mommy characters that didn't wear anything nice, and it's a lot of fun to play this particular character because I enjoy getting dressed up every day and going to work." I love it when actors get to wear entirely different wardrobes from what the audience is accustomed to seeing, so I'm glad that Andie MacDowell is happy with the change.

Moving on, here's what Andie MacDowell had to say regarding the compairson to The Devil Wears Prada: "There's much more to it because she has the whole high school life going on, and that is really an important part of the story." She added that you can also "compare it to it because it is about an assistant and a boss and it is the fashion world," which pretty much sums up the similarities (though I admit I've only seen the film once).

Okay, let's get back to the title of the show, Jane by Design. Jane is an executive assistant of sorts for Gray, and MacDowell gave a suggestion as to what Gray sees in Jane... "I think she sees that she's got great style, and maybe she sees a little bit of herself when she was younger, the capacity to think quick, and then something in her that is trustworthy." These are pretty good traits to have, though I guess we'll have to wait and see how well this pans out on the show. Another interviewer asked what MacDowell thinks it takes to succeed as an executive assistant in fashion, and the actress noted that they need "to be able to think for themselves, to read your mind almost, to know you well enough to make the decisions that you would make. You expect a lot." Certainly sounds like it'll be rough for Jane, though maybe she's just the right person to pull it off.

Onward to some plot points and scenes we can look forward to! (always a personal favorite of mine... though I'm a sucker for spoilers!) It sounds like we may have some Fred-at-the-Water-Buffalo-Lodge-and-Pebbles'-Birthday-Party going on with Jane. (If you haven't seen that episode, it's a true classic about being in two places at once. It's been referenced everywhere. Like Boy Meets World. LoL) "When [Jane] had the date, that one was really cute. Where she was trying to go to the prom and trying to work at the same time and trying to change her clothes in between the two and really trying to exist as a teenager and have this treasured moment but she had to work."

What's a typical day like on the set? "We'd hang out in tiny little trailers. Eat - they have nice food but we don't have very long to eat. We're changing hair really fast. We're getting dressed really fast and we're running into the set. Working late at night sometimes, which is really hard when you're my age. Having to remember your lines at midnight. But it was all fun. It was a lot of fun."

And, lastly, a personal question for the woman who began in fashion: who or what inspired her own fashion style? "I just go with things that I like... the things that make me feel warm and comfortable. I'm really into boots. I like jeans. I don't know, I'm kind of a country girl, but yet I can also enjoy dressing up because I think I was exposed to certain things in the fashion world. I come from a small town and I grew up very simply so I think there's a piece of me that will always be that. But I've been exposed to high fashion so there's also going to be that piece as well."

Thanks for reading and don't forget that Jane by Design airs Tuesdays at 9pm ET, just after Switched at Birth!
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