By Jim Halterman, via Afterelton.com She may be small in stature, but one of the reasons it’s hard not to love Kristin Chenoweth is because she’s such a powerhouse when it comes to anything she does. Whether she’s acting, singing, vamping on a talk show or standing up for gay rights, Chenoweth does it all with equal parts passion and conviction. And now she’s back on our televisions on a weekly basis with the premiere of ABC’s GCB. Created by Robert Harling (who brought us Steel Magnolias, Soapdish and The First Wives Club) and Executive Produced by Sex And The City creator Darren Star, the series takes a comedic look at life in the South, namely Dallas, and Chenoweth chews up the scenery as meddlesome diva Carlene Cockburn (yes, Cockburn), who goes on the defensive when her high school nemesis (Leslie Bibb) returns to town. Besides Chenoweth and Bibb, the cast also includes Designing Women alum Annie Potts, handsomeDavid James Elliott, Marisol Nichols, Miriam Shor, Jennifer Aspen and sexy Mark Deklin, who plays one of the husbands, and who happens to have a taste for his sexy ranch foreman. During a recent chat with AfterElton.com, the intoxicating Chenoweth talked with us about her new gig, the gay elements at work in both GCB and in society as well as her upcoming tour and her real thoughts on the possibility of playing Dolly Parton sometime in the future. AfterElton: Kristin, the show is so fun. I have to ask you, Carlene’s last name is Cockburn. Now what is going on with that? KC: I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m sorry, what are you implying? Are you saying there’s something about cocks? And burns? I don’t know what you mean. [laughs] When I first heard that that was her last name, I was like, Bobby [Harling], are you trying to kill me? But evidently there’s lots of Cockburn’s in that part of the United States.
AE: In the pilot, Carlene comes off like maybe a villain or a bully, but is she? What do you think of Carlene? KC: Well, you know, here’s the way I view Carlene, I don’t think she’s a bully because I love her. I think you’re going to understand why she’s sort of protecting herself, because she’s been bullied. She was so bullied, she’s the ugly duckling and Amanda Vaughn (Bibb) tortured her through high school. So who doesn’t understand not wanting to be around that person. I mean, I had a person in high school that tortured me. I don’t really want her to come within the Broadway community and start auditioning for shows. That wouldn’t be good. And I think Carlene is protecting herself, and, yeah, she’s a villain in that she knows how to stir it up a little bit. AE: Since every villain has an Achilles heel, will we find out what Carlene’s is? KC: Yes, and there’s 10 episodes for you to find that out, and I’m going to tell you something…Bobby Harling has given me a gift and her name is Carlene and I cannot believe some of the things I get to do in these episodes, just me, as an actress and as a performer. He knows how to write women so well, and, I mean, Carlene is a complicated little turkey, but she’s really happy with her husband, you’ll see.
AE: Why do we love characters that might quote the Bible one minute and then, I won’t say break, butchallenge the commandments the next? KC: [laughs] Because it’s called real life. You know that. We do it. I do it every day, and it might not even have to do with the Bible. It’s called humanity and what Bobby has done so well is do it through church, and you know, put it in that world, which I don’t really know of a past show that has the church so in the forefront. But as I say, there is lots of humor to be had in church and some of my best memories and best times and the funniest things I have ever seen have happened in church. It is the Bible Belt, it is how we do it, it’s very real, and he’s just done an amazing job. And with Carlene too. I might be biased but I do love her.