Comedy Designed for Success

Source: Unknown newspaper, 1986

Writer-producer Linda Bloodworth's idea was to bring together the four funniest women shen knew and let them just talk.

She suggested the idea over the telephone to the head of comedy development at CBS. She named the four women: Delta Burke, Dixie Carter, Annie Potts and Jean Smart. He wanted to know how fast she could get to his office.

"I was friends with those four women," said Bloodworth, "and I'd worked with Dixie and Delta on Filthy Rich. We've had a secret plot since then to work together again.

"I said I don't care whether they work in a garage or a beauty parlor. All I wanted to do was get them together so they can talk. So I said, 'Ok, they're designers.' "

The show is Designing Women, which advertising agencies consider one of the hottest prospects for the fall season.

In the show, the four women run a fledgling decorating business out of a townhouse in Atlanta. Delta Burke is Suzanne Sugarbaker, a glamorous divorcee and femme fatale who runs the business with her equally glamorous and flamboyant sister, Julia, played by Dixie Carter.

Jean Smart plays Charlene Frazier, the acerbic, compulsively organized office manager, and Annie Potts is Mary Jo Shively, shyly making her first venture back into the business world since putting her ex-husband through medical school.

"There'll be a lot of Southern comment," said Bloodworth. It's her second Southern-related show. The first was Filthy Rich, a parody of Dallas and Dynasty. She's from Poplar Bluff, MO., and her husband and co-executive producer is Harry Thomason, who is from Arkansas.

"We're billing it as the first sophisticated Southern comedy," she said. "It's more like a play than a sitcom, and I don't mean that as a put-down to sitcoms. We discuss a lot of things. It's like eavesdropping on these women. There's a line where Annie Potts asks, 'Why are Southern women always considered over-sexed? They never have air conditioning. They're always perspiring and have handkerchiefs tucked down their fronts.' "

It's a celebration of Southern family eccentricities, as Bloodworth sees it.

The actresses are all from the South, except Smart, who's from Seattle but now sounds as though she grew up in the Ozarks. Burke is from Florida, Carter from Tennessee, Potts from Kentucky.


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