Perhaps most recognized as Kathy, the brunette bombshell that came between Joey and Chandler on FRIENDS, actress Paget Brewster has finally come into her own with Fox's new sitcom, ANDY RICHTER CONTROLS THE UNIVERSE.
In ANDY, Brewster plays Jessica, Andy's high-strung boss. She's head of the department, image conscious, manipulative, and an old friend/failed romance of Andy's. And that's just what audiences discover in the first episode.
"[The writers] made me kind of boozy, slutty and neurotic," says Brewster. "[That's] kind of like me, but not really. I'm the boss, but I really shouldn't be. It turns out that I'm a hardass the hardass with the heart of gold.
"[Andy and I] work at a giant conglomerate company that develops torpedoes, flash fryers, and industrial doorknobs," she continues. "It's one of those companies that creates everything. Andy writes technical manuals. I'm his boss, and I don't even know what I do, other than go in and yell at him occasionally."
But while Jessica is certainly an interesting character, Brewster is quick to point out that the show is centered around Andy and the effects of his overactive imagination.
"Andy is the center of the show," says Brewster. "He is a fiction writer, when not writing technical manuals at Pickering. So, throughout the day and week in his life, he imagines different outcomes, as we all do. If someone upsets you, you rarely ever punch them in the face, or set them on fire, but you're thinking about it. The show is about 60% reality and 40% fantasy. It keeps you guessing, which I really like."
This fantasy element is the key ingredient to generating the humor for the show. And it looks like the sky (and budgetary constraints) is the limit for ANDY.
"The only thing stopping us from doing anything is [the] budget," says Brewster. "[Andy's] boxed a kangaroo, set his hand on fire, and been Superman. I've been Marilyn Monroe. [Actor Jonathan Slavin, who plays Andy's officemate, Byron] has been completely nude [a la the opening to AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME]. There are so many things that we can do. Our executive producer, Victor Fresco, is brilliant and comes up with all kinds of different things."
And if variety is the spice of life, life is certainly never boring on ANDY's set.
"Exactly," says Brewster. "It's a single camera show, no laugh track, shot like a film. Our days are 15 hours long and we'll shoot four hours for a sequence that will last three seconds on camera. It's a big, heavy show."
But ultimately, Brewster and the rest of the cast do not find this situation as daunting and difficult as it could be.
"[One would think] it's really hard and grueling, but it's not," says Brewster. "We really have the best time. I can't wait to see our blooper reel because it will be pathetic. All we ever do is make each other laugh. I think that's going to show. I think that if you're miserable, then you can see it. We're clearly having too much fun. We even had a 'talking to.' We had to have a 'talking to' because we were goofing off too much. We're professional, and we're working, but our cameraman and our focus puller [were] laughing. That's when you know that we're clearly doing something right."
ANDY's fantasy-based reality has even attracted outside star power. Rumor has it that Eric "Ponch" Estrada will guest star on the show at some point.
"Yeah," says Brewster. "He was on our show. Seriously. He was our biggest name."
Even though everything seems to be in place to ensure success for the show (a cast with real chemistry, unique, humorous storytelling, and an appealing visual style), Brewster is nervous about predicting instant success.
"I guess we'll go on in March and keep our fingers crossed."