By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Nicole Richie, who has had a love-hate relationship with the media throughout most of her career, plays a social media-savvy TV news host on the NBC comedy “Great News.” Her character, Portia, tries to bring fresh ideas to a rather staid newsroom and cope with her traditional, stuffy co-anchor Chuck (played by funnyman John Michael Higgins). She is surrounded by oddball co-workers that include an ambitious news producer Katie (Briga Heelan) and her overbearing mother, Carol (Andrea Martin), an unconventional intern, Greg (Adam Campbell) as a dashing corporate executive and Justin (Horatio Sanz), as a seen-too-much video editor.
Created by Tracey Wigfield (who also plays Beth, the news team’s creepy meteorologist), the sitcom is executive produced by Tina Fey (“Saturday Night Live,” “30 Rock”).
In Season 2, premiering Thursday Sept. 28 at 9:30 p.m./8:30C, Fey joins the cast as new boss Diana St. Tropez, when their old boss gets the boot. St. Tropez has big plans to bring the outdated news program into the 21st century. Her arrival sends the news team into a tailspin. Meanwhile, Portia (Richie) also is dealing with problems at home with her pro football player husband.
The petite 35-year-old actress arrives for an interview in early August at the TV Critics cell phone in hand. She apologizes after finishing up a text, and sits down to discuss the return of her comedy series, which includes the addition of Fey to the cast this season.
Q: Do you have rules so you don’t lose out on moments in time with family or with friends so you’re not one of those people who are at dinner looking at your phone?
Richie: I hate myself on my phone, but I do it. I really try not to do it and I go through periods of living the life that I want to and then, of course, you fall back into it, because the phone is more than a phone. There’s information. People are updating. It’s just very live. I would like to not use it, but I do sometimes.
Q: NBC really showed confidence in your show in that you were given an early green light for Season 2 for renewal.
Richie: We kind of found out kind of late.
Q: Have you worked with Tina Fey yet?
Richie: No, we start on Monday.
Q: What’s it like having such a huge comedic talent working with you?
Richie: Just like God (She laughs).
Q: Where would you like to see your character go this season, because some people want to have bigger storylines?
Richie: During the first season, you’re kind of getting to the beginning of Katie (Heelan) and Carol (Martin) story of how they are definitely at odds. Katie is annoyed with Carol, but throughout the season you see that they’re actually much more alike than Katie even wanted to admit to herself. I’m excited to see that kind-of acceptance from Katie’s character go into this new relationship with her mom, because now her mom is there to stay. So, to see the mother-daughter evolution is something very exciting. As far as the rest of us, it kind of felt like we were just establishing the beginning of our relationship, especially with Adam (Campbell’s) role, to see how everybody settings into this new way. Tina’s coming in as the new boss, Diana St. Tropez. She’s going to come in and change a lot of things. We were always separate and I think you’ll see us get to get her and take on things as a group.
Q: What are your thoughts and approach regarding acting? Has your love and passion for it deepened by working with this cast and crew?
Richie: It really has and it’s made me scared to do anything else, because everybody is so nice and welcoming. I can’t imagine being on my first show not with this group of people, because I had such a strong support system with this cast.
Q: Are you getting feedback from people on the street about your role on this show? Are they coming up to you and saying, “Oh, in Episode 3…”?
Q: When was the first time you were recognized in public for your work on this show?
Richie: My kid’s friends watch the show and I get bossed around by them all day long, so for them to think I did something cool felt really good to me, I have to say.
Q: Are you excited about getting back to work on the new season?
Q: How exciting will that first episode of the second season be?
Richie: The show ended on a Friday and we pick back on that Monday, so only a weekend has gone by and we’re going straight into it. Right off the bat, we have a new boss and that’s Tina Fey. It’s just like change and go time from the moment we start.
Q: Do you feel like you’re working with a dream team of writers?
Richie: It makes our job so easy because there’s nothing to do, other than do what you’re told. It’s just that good.
Q: What would you say your comedic strength is in playing this character?
Richie: I think that Portia’s strength is being able to walk into a room, so absolute, and not take one second to examine the energy of the room. She’s just her, no matter what. She’s just very deadpan, says whatever she wants and she just thinks whatever she says is just the greatest and everybody should be on that page and she leaves.
Q: She thinks she’s the center of the universe, right?
Richie: And everyone else is just a planet, yes. (She laughs.)
Q: Do you know if Tina Fey is going to be in every episode this season?
Richie: She’s on a few. She’s definitely in the first three. We don’t know about the rest yet.
Season 2 of “Great News” premieres Thursday, Sept. 28 at 9:30 p.m./8:30C on NBC.