Day One in New York: on set with The Good Wife

Baranski, Margulies, Noth: now they can laugh about it
BROOKLYN, N.Y.–The Good Wife lives the good life.
She does if you take a close look at her well  crafted studio surroundings, as I did Monday with a van load of TV writers from the New York City area.
CBS was hosting a press tour-like session with the cast on the set of The Good Wife, which shoots on CBS Productions Broadway Stages, a series of retro-fitted suburban warehouses much like the places where most TV shows are shot nowadays in Toronto. The Studio is hidden in an industrial patch of Brooklyn, with CBS newcomer Blue Bloods, starring Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg as father and son cops, spread over several adjoining soundstages. The HBO series Making It In America just wrapped their second season in the same scattered Brooklyn production centre.
Emmy-nominated Good Wife star Julianna Margulies, co-star Chris Noth and fellow nominee Christine Baranski sat on the courtroom set of the law drama and took questions along with other cast members. A court reporter took everything down, just like she would in a real courtroom!
The Good Wife was embraced by critics and audiences last year as the best new network drama. The men and women of the press were teased with a clip from the upcoming second season which showed Margulies and Noth’s reunited characters Alicia and Peter enjoying a risque (by network standards) Mr. and Mrs. Reporters wondered if we were going to see a sexier Good Wife this season (which begins Sept. 28 on CBS and Global).
That led to a misunderstanding that likely won’t find its way into The Canadian Press version of this story. I hesitate to spill it here, but, what the hey, it’s funny and nobody lost an eye.
Margulies thought the scene was about as frisky as you’re allowed to take things on network television, especially on CBS. “I think that is the first time network television has had an oral sex scene. No?” she asked the reporter. (The scene, of course, was not explicit.) The clumsy follow up question–“have you researched that Julianna?” was taken the wrong way.The reporter wanted to know if Margulies knew for sure a sexual taboo had been broken. Margulies took it as the kind of saucy follow up a scribe might fling at “Snookie” from Jersey Shore and was suitably outraged. Things got straightened out and order was restored in the courtroom.
Bottom line, The Good Wife is not going to turn into HBO after dark next season, but viewers will be in for more passion from the reunited leads.
How reunited? As Noth dryly noted of the couple’s brittle marriage, “I don’t think the stitches are out yet of the wound that never heals, but leaves a scar.”
The show will continue to rip into the headlines with legal cases touching on the BP oil spill and political affairs. There will be new characters, an office merger and a political campaign.
After the press conference, reporters were taken on a tour by veran set decorator Beth Kushnick. Kushnick has worked on movies as well as seven series, including Fringe, Trial By Jury and Margulies’ previous series, Canterbury’s Law. Part of her job is to make sure the show looks Chicago (it is set in that town’s “Cook County”) even though it is shot in New York.
Alicia’s kitchen: big as a whale and seats about 20. CBS photos: Kathleen Prutting

Kushnick says she gets inundated with emails by sharp-eyed viewers who follow her CBS.com blog “The Good Look of the Good Wife.” the blog is the perfect compliment to this series, allowing fans to ask Kushnick as well as Emmy nominated costume designer Daniel Lawson where they got that sofa, rug, sweater of slacks. Both take the time to respond to viewer questions and are very passionate about their jobs and high on this show and this cast.
I had one for Kushnick–where’d she get the amazing linoleum fake antique bathroom tile floor found in Margulie’s character’s bathroom? Kushnick found it in Los Angeles and says suppliers from all over have been terrific this season. (Find out the make of Alicia’s stove and other details here).
She says she’s careful to dress the set with furniture and accessories a real Chicago attorney could afford and says she often hears from lawyers asking where she got so-and-so. Kushnick  recognizes that The Good Wife is a very aspirational series and has made a point of extending that philosophy to viewers who aspire to the look of the drama. Some of the stuff comes straight from Pottery Barn, some from department stores, she says.
That being said, Alicia’s apartment is enormous. As one of the reporters said, you could put her whole New York apartment into Alicia’s massive kitchen.

Lawson: if only he dressed critics on press tour
Lawson’s costume space is set up in a former machine shop, with dozens of size 0, 2 and 4 skirts and dresses floating on hangers. Like Kushnick, he keeps things real, saying 85% of the clothes used on the series are current season. “You can run out and buy it,” he says.

That Lawson’s work was recognized for an Emmy nomination is remarkable given the splashier competition from Glee and period shows like Mad Men and The Tudors (all nominated in the same category). Lawson is grateful Hollywood recognized that such care was taken to dress his characters and keep them identifiable–and still stylish–for fans of the show.
As thrifty as Kushnick (as as you have to be in this still slow economy, say both professionals), Lawson has found $5,000 designer jackets for as little as $400 at thrift shops. One was loaned out to one of the stars who wore it to a wedding.
While most of the stuff is “regular clothes,” Lawson–who previously worked  on Kings, Lipstick Jungle and Bored to Death–admits, “everything has been fitted to within an inch of its life.”
Check out his fun and informative blog here. Kushnick will field your questions at her CBS.com blog here.

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