Magazine article Variety

Morning Glory

Magazine article Variety

Morning Glory

Article excerpt

When "The West Wing" ended in 2006, Allison Janney was secretly terrified. 1 She worried she would never find another TV series role as powerful as the one she held in the Bartlet administration for seven seasons. She was nervous about being typecast as a specific breed of alpha-female. And she fretted that reality TV was going to take over network TV entirely, turning high-end scripted shows into endangered species.

Boy. was she wrong.

Janney, 54, is the embodiment of the extraordinary range of opportunities available to established actors in television's ever-widening programming landscape. She took home two Emmys (Nos. 5 and 6 on her mantle) this month for her work in two very different series: the CBS comedy "Mom" and the Showtime period drama "Masters of Sex."

As fellow winner Julianna Margulies observed as she accepted her trophy for "The Good Wife" at the Aug. 25 Emmy Awards, "What a wonderful time for women on television."

Janney's wins underscore not only the expansion of the original-series marketplace but also the diversity of vibrant female characters of many ages. The notion that an actress's career arc heads south after age 40 is laughable in an environment where Mariska Hargitay is in season 16 of "Law & Order: SVU," Edie Falco is in season seven of "Nurse Jackie," and Viola Davis is about to embark on "How to Get Away With Murder," to name but a few.

"Television is a woman's medium," Janney said, reflecting on her two-fisted Emmy haul. "I am proud to work in TV.*

On the morning after a long night of celebrating, Janney was still effervescent. Not 24 hours after she was handed her second Emmy, the actress was game for a 90-minute photo shoot that ended with her hugging the photographer. After changing into jeans and a tank top, she perched herself cross-legged on a bed to discuss her career path.

As much as Janney loved "West Wing" - the White House drama that brought her four Emmys for playing the press secretary/ chief of staff - she didn't want to be "TV's C. J. Cregg" for the rest of her days. When the NBC series ended, she sought to take a 180-degree turn into comedy.

"I love crazy parts - the crazier the better," Janney said. "I love the chance to be someone who is not me on the screen. I'm so grateful that there are parts for me at my age. I hope this golden age of TV never dies." There were ups and downs in Janney's immediate post-White House years. She had a deal with Chuck Lorre for a sitcom that didn't go past the script stage at CBS - she was to have played a single dentist who falls in love with a pharmacist in her office building. She took a supporting role opposite Matthew Perry on the 2011 ABC comedy 'Mr. Sunshine," which was 13 episodes and out. And she did a pilot for NBC, "Friday Night Dinner," with "The Office" boss Greg Daniels that didn't get picked up.

She logged plenty of film work in that time - from "Juno" to "Hairspray" to "The Help" - and she starred in the Broadway run of tuner "9 to 5." But she missed the liveat-home lifestyle offered by TV series work.

"I didn't think it was going to be as hard as it was" to mount a second act in TV, Janney admitted. "I thought, 'I'll just find another show, and it'll be great.' "

When "Mom" finally came along, Janney's crazy wish came true. The Warner Bros. TV sitcom from Lorre's shop revolves around the frayed relationship between mother and daughter in dire straits, financially and otherwise, both trying to get their lives together after years of addiction and bad behavior. …

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