The wildly popular news sitcom Murphy Brown returns to CBS tonight after 20 years. Candice Bergen reclaims the role of Murphy Brown alongside Joe Regalbuto as Frank Fontana and Faith Ford as Corky Sherwood. It’s an entirely different media landscape since the last time the FYI team graced television sets and the whole gang is ready to tackle the modern world.
CBS Local’s Matt Weiss caught up with Faith Ford and Joe Regalbuto ahead of tonight’s premiere to discuss what it’s like to be together again, modern media and the humorous side of menopause.
MW- Good morning to you both, how’s it going?
JR- Going good man, how about you?
MW- Doing well, doing well. Congrats on the big return tonight, how does it feel to have the gang back together?
FF- We love being together and it’s great to be in New York shooting the show now!
JR- It’s fantastic, every time we get together it’s a lot of fun.
MW- Coming from a local news perspective ourselves at CBS, you’re also covering news on the show. It’s scripted of course, so it’s a different form of news coverage but it’s there all the same. Do you all enjoy that task and what does it mean to you to be a source of information for people?
JR- That’s one of the most fun things that we can do. We’re at a critical time for news and we get to cover it. We’re playing news reporters on television and we get to cover any situation, any topic we want and without constraints…
FF- …Because it’s fiction, therefore we have more license to play.
JR- Our creative producer Diane English and Candice have both said that when we do pick a topic there’s no sidestepping. We’re able to go after it and we take a point of view, let’s put it that way.
MW- Obviously a lot has changed in the real world since the show’s been away but what has changed for your characters in the last 20 years?
FF- Well Corky’s in menopause, full on menopause [laughs]. So that’s different, but I can relate.
JR- It’s a funny menopause [laughs].
FF- So any woman out there who is there, getting there or knows what it’s like to be there should totally identify with Corky [laughs].
JR- You’ll get a few laughs between your hot flashes!
FF- That’s right!
JR- Listen, all the characters we’ve kind of built a history for them but we don;t spend a ton of time with that we want to get right to what’s going on now. Murphy and Frank along with Corky have been getting together since the show’s been over and we hook up and say hey.
FF- And Candice is so amazing as Murphy now as opposed to Murphy then. I mean there’s just sort of this ease and grace that she has, she’s so comfortable, so set in her ways, in the best way possible. She’s not shrill or anything like that and to see her in this energy dealing with these topics is pretty incredible to watch.
JR- You’re also reminded that the woman won five Emmy Awards. It’s no sort of magic that we’re all back here, she’s got a tremendous amount of talent.
FF- Her truth dealing with this is so genuine it brings tears to my eyes, she’s so genuine. She feels it in her heart for Murphy and you can see that it comes across.
MW- There must be such a comfort, I’d imagine it’s like getting reacquainted with an old friend I’d imagine.
FF- Oh yes.
JR- Completely. The set behind us when Faith walked in she started crying, Candice was weeping already and it’s very emotional. They really got down into the details for the set as well as Phil’s Bar it’s really remarkable.
FF- They recreated here (New York), not in Warner Brothers lot in Burbank which is what we were used to, it really made it feel like coming home again for us. It’s crazy, I was a heap on the floor when I first walked in.
MW- Even with all that comfort there have to be changes of course and today social media and news coverage has changed so much due to technology, how will that be reflected in this new iteration?
FF- From the get, That’s what Nik Dodani’s character is for, he’s our tech guy, he keeps us social in the media.
JR- We’re all amazed at how fast things are flowing. Even with the show and presenting the show and launching it, it’s unbelievable how many outlets there are now, how vast things are now. Candice will send out a picture and get like 80 texts back immediately, its nuts what goes on. So the show definitely has to catch up as well as us.
MW- Last question for both of you know, how would you describe this new version of Murphy Brown to all the prospective audience members out there?
FF- How would you describe it Joe?
JR- Smart as hell and very ambitious.
FF- No holds barred, but fun! We’re flawed, we’re definitely doing our thing but we’re human beings. We’re having fun but we’re dealing with situations head on and I think it’s a journey. Hopefully it won’t be divisive, I hope it will bring people together because that’s very important.
JR- And from some angles I actually look OK, I don’t look like I’m 120 on television. Some angles I look in my late 80’s and other’s I look good for a quick second and then it’s back [laughs].
FF- No! You look good Joe! Now he’s being Frank Fontana, he’s not Joe anymore [laughs].
MW- It’s obvious how much fun you all have together and I’m really excited to see that come through on the show again. Thank you both so much for talking to me today and good luck with the new season!
JR- Thank you!
FF- Thank you so much, take care Matt!
Murphy Brown returns tonight at 9:30 PM ET/PT, only on CBS. Check your local listings for more information.