Who's Afraid of Amanda Woodward?
I usually don't try to solve what Jon Robin Baitz in his blog referred to as "cutesy blind items" of TV Guide's scooper-pooper Michael Ausiello. Call me superficial, but this latest riddle concerning a C-list actress throwing a hissy fit over the casting of Heather Locklear on either ABC's "Cashmere Mafia" or NBC's "Lipstick Jungle" is simply too delicious to miss out on. Plus, it appears the answer is hidden in the casting timeline.
According to Ausiello, a spotlight-hungry C-list diva who was cast as one of the leads in a freshman show for the 2007-2008 season often referred to as "Sex and the City" knock-off, informed the producers she would be leaving the project if they went ahead with their plan to cast former "Melrose Place" vixen Heather Locklear.
Locklear, who began her career in the classic 1980s shows "Dynasty" and "T.J. Hooker" helped save Aaron Spelling's FOX sudser "Melrose Place" when she was added to the cast as a special guest star, transforming the timid twentysomething morality play into one of prime time's most outrageous soap operas in the 1990s.
An unnamed diva on either ABC's "Cashmere Mafia" or NBC's "Lipstick Jungle" was, according to TV Guide, afraid Locklear would overshadow her presence in the new series and demanded that the producers show Locklear the door. They complied by hiring a less imposing lead and giving our C-list heroine a 7-figure salary.
Since NBC's troubled project "Lipstick Jungle" was originally intended for the 2006-2007 season (Gina Gershon and Melissa George were originally cast to headline the pilot in February 2006) and the show's new principal star Brooke Shields was cast before Kim Raver and Lindsay Price joined the pilot in February 2007, the answer may lie over at "Cashmere Mafia."
Although Bonnie Somerville was the last to join the series on March 1, 2007, she actually had a special talent holding deal with the network and Touchstone Television signed in October 2006 calling for her to be cast in one of their projects in development or to develop one around her (at the time referred to as "The Untitled Bonnie Somerville Project").
In the entertainment industry, a holding deal is an agreement made between a studio or network and an actor, producer or writer, that holds the person to be exclusive to that entity for an agreed upon period of time, usually one year or "season", for an agreed upon amount of money.
It is most common for television networks to offer actors in high demand holding deals for an upcoming television season. A holding deal is different from a development deal in that the holding deal is simply looking to place the talent in any project the network sees fit.
For this reason, the holding deal would have given Bonnie Somerville leverage in negotiations and heavily impacted final casting choices.
Lucy Liu, possibly a less imposing lead than Heather Locklear, joined the series on February 28, just one day before Bonnie Somerville officially took over the role originally intended for Miranda Otto.
Both Otto and Frances O'Connor had been cast before that, in the course of February 2007.
Michael Ausiello also says the insiders expect the series in question to have a short life span. "Lipstick Jungle" has yet to premiere, while "Cashmere Mafia" has lost about half the audience that tuned into its inflated post-"Desperate Housewives" debut on January 7.