Q: I’m thrilled to see that “American Housewife” is back, but I’ve noticed that Anna-Kat has been changed to another actress. What happened to the original one? — Cheryl Devendorf, Grand Junction, Colo.
A: Julia Butters, who had the part for the ABC sitcom’s first four seasons, took a big career leap last year with a role in Quentin Tarantino’s movie “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” (which he cast her for after seeing her on “American Housewife”). That opened up new opportunities for her that she wanted to pursue, so she asked to be let out of the series, which the producers granted.
To recast Anna-Kat, they turned to someone who already has TV-comedy experience, Giselle Eisenberg. She spent several seasons on CBS’ “Life in Pieces,” and she also has a movie background encompassing “A Most Violent Year” and the Martin Scorsese-directed “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Her sister Julia also is an actress who has appeared in “The Daily Show” — and to answer what may be an obvious question, they’re not related to Jesse Eisenberg, though he does have an actress sister (Hallie).
Q: It’s nice to see Laura Osnes making movies for Hallmark Channel now. Didn’t she play Sandy in “Grease” on Broadway? — Carol Klein, East Liverpool, Ohio
A: She did, and it actually was a television competition series that delivered her to that role. In 2007, NBC’s “Grease: You’re the One That I Want” gave a group of hopefuls their shots at landing the parts of Danny and Sandy in a Broadway revival of the musical. The voting audience at home had a say in declaring Osnes the female winner, while Max Crumm became her male counterpart.
That job launched what has become a glowing professional career for Osnes, who’s now a mainstay of the Great White Way. She went on to leading roles in “South Pacific,” “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” “Bandstand” and a musical version of “Bonnie and Clyde,” along with appearances in concerts and regional shows. Osnes has said that she has every intention of returning to the currently shuttered Broadway theater scene whenever it reopens in the age of the coronavirus pandemic.
Q: Is “Filthy Rich” supposed to be a remake of another Southern story? Some of the characters seem familiar. — Matt Banker, via e-mail
A: They even strike stars of some of those other stories as being familiar, since Kristin Chenoweth recently told us that she sees elements of her own 2012 ABC series “GCB” in it. With that said, the Fox program was developed from a same-named New Zealand show by filmmaker Tate Taylor, who also seems to have put echoes of his 2011 movie “The Help” into it.
If you’re enjoying “Filthy Rich,” you’d better catch it while you can. It didn’t have all that many airings before Fox recently handed it a pink slip, canceling both that and “NEXT” early in their runs. It’s a sad irony for the two shows, since Fox purposely held them from last season to be starters in the network’s fall lineup. However, their completed orders will be allowed to play out on the air.
Q: How are some series able to make and come back with new episodes now, while the coronavirus numbers are still so concerning? — Jack Berger, Fremont, N.C.
A: It’s taken very strict protocols on the sets, including masks being worn by the actors whenever they aren’t actually filming scenes. Beth Behrs (CBS’ “The Neighborhood”), Catherine Bell (of Hallmark Channel’s “Good Witch”) and Bryan Cranston (of Showtime’s upcoming “Your Honor”) recently told us that everyone on their shows is checked regularly medically, plus the working locations have been augmented with plexiglass and other materials to promote safety under the current conditions.
Despite that, it doesn’t always work out as hoped. NBC’s “Chicago Med” had to shut down again after a positive COVID-19 test came back, and a number of series based in Vancouver (such as The CW’s “Riverdale,” ABC’s “A Million Little Things” and NBC’s “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”) had to suspend production when test results weren’t coming back quickly enough — since so many shows there were submitting them at once. Bottom line: Everyone is finding their way through the situation and working as efficiently and safely as they can.
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