Stars Tea Leoni and Tim Daly and executive producers Lori McCreary, Morgan Freeman and Barbara Hall spoke with the 2014 summer TCA press tour about “Madam Secretary,” the new CBS drama featuring Leoni as the Secretary of State.
The idea stemmed from McCreary and Freeman wanting to make a foray into television and being advised to “find a character whose story we wanted to tell” right before the Benghazi hearings started. Thus the idea of “Madam Secretary” was born. Here are 10 things to know about the new series:
- The idea of the show is what is life like for a Secretary of State, especially a female one who is traveling overseas where rights for women aren’t necessarily what they are in the United States.
- But it isn’t just her job that is the focus. The show’s focus is three-tiered: The level of global politics and problems with foreign relations; the inter-office politics in Washington D.C. and the White House; and the “politics of home,” having issues of home life juxtaposed with the responsibility of being Secretary of State.
- EP Hall says what sets “Madam Secretary” apart from other shows about strong women is that this show will feature a strong career-oriented woman whose life is not “broken everywhere else,” but rather showing the character going back and forth between those worlds.
- The idea was never to have the show be “Madam President,” but star Leoni quips, “But Season 4 …”
- Leoni also says it’s the “spectacular writing” that drew her to the project. What brought her back to TV, however, is her teenage sons saying they’re OK with it, since they’re “getting sick of her” being around so much anyway, Leoni says with a laugh.
- Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was consulted about the show and EP Hall says Albright is “eager to weigh in and help us, she’s excited about the show.” Daly cracks, “Madeleine Albright is my White House Correspondents Dinner girlfriend.”
- Daly and Leoni play a married couple and the goal of the series is to “create a successful marriage” because Hall believes that successful marriages do exist. But Daly teases that there’s “more there than meets the eye” in regards to his religion professor character.
- The ultimate goal of the series is to “pull back the curtain on how the state department actually works,” says Hall. They do heighten the reality a little, mostly to condense time more than anything, but they realize that it’s unrealistic to have some enormous, global political event every week that magically gets resolved.
- Instead, the show will find moments of resolution within on-going problems, but also focus on the inter-office politics and life outside the office.
“Madam Secretary” premieres Sunday, Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.