The star and producer of the show dishes on her F/X show's new season

Courtney Cox might have been our squeaky-clean Friend for many years, but now she's slinging some mud with her new hit show, Dirt, which premeires its second season on the F/X network on Sunday March 2 at 10 PM ET. I was fortunate enough to be in on a conference call with the star/producer of the show, and here's what she had to say.

I was wondering, this season feels a little bit more ripped from the headlines, and we were just curious to know if that was something of a conscious choice, just following the past year of what's gone on, or if it was just accidental?

Courtney Cox: No, it's absolutely a choice. We thought that would be a good way to just start the season, and it is absolutely ripped from the headlines. We usually do a hybrid of celebrities and then add to the story like maybe what happened to cause this to happen to them or sum it up in a different way just for fun. But yes, it's definitely relatable this year and I think it makes for just a more exciting television show.

Are there any other celebrities, because right now we have some story lines that are a little bit a la Nicole and Paris and David Hasselhoff, are there any other celebrities that we can expect to see something from? Any little tidbits you can give us on that?

Courtney Cox: Well, there is definitely going to be, in almost every episode you'll see something that you will recognize, and that's kind of hopefully the fun of it that you'll be able to guess who this person we might be talking about, even though it's not really about them. It could be about, like I said before, just a couple of people or a couple of situations. But yes, every episode there is that relatable story line.

How do you kind of keep the show grounded and not go too far and not make the characters too out there? It seems like a show where this must be something you have to think about of making it still relatable. Do you find that difficult as you go into Season Two?

Courtney Cox: Well you know you would think that that would be a problem, but really if you just look at any magazine or follow any celebrity that people are fascinated with, they seem to do the outrageous things on their own. We'll come up with something that we think 'Okay, now what's really shocking,' because we want to make good television. So obviously we want to shock people. But then, lo and behold, it ends up happening or something. Life is outrageous enough. I don't think that we have to worry about making anything seem crazy, because through time if you look at all the tabloids from the last whatever many years it pretty much speaks for itself.

Last year was great when you had Jennifer Aniston on, that was a lot of fun for people. I didn't know if there are any other guest stars you're planning on or you can tell us about or hopes you have to?

Courtney Cox: We have great guest stars this year. We don't have any cast members of Friends, but we do have, Tom Arnold was on and Rosanna Arquette, my sister-in-law, and Vicki Lewis and Sharon Lawrence and Richard Karn, all just really great actors. And we have recurring role characters and new characters on the show that work in the office. I think it's been a great season for just really good actors being on the show.

It seems like there are celebrities out there in the real world that are in it just for the celebrity ... photo op and manipulate the paparazzi, and then there's real serious actors, the majority of actors, who lead quiet lives and just want to work. I don't know. It feels like your show, to me, when I watch it illuminates that reality, and I didn't know if you felt strongly about that.

Courtney Cox: We are illuminating those people because that's the stories that you read about. So in making a fun television show you want people to be able to relate and go 'Oh my God, is that so and so? Oh wait a minute, but didn't that happen to that girl?' And then we kind of are combining them and making just really for fun television. But yes, we are highlighting those people because they're the ones that are in the headlines of these magazines. Did that answer it?

What has been your favorite story line so far that you've filmed?

Courtney Cox: Okay, let me think about that, my favorite story line. We have this character on the show this year that will definitely resemble someone that's in the press all the time, but she's a recurring character. And I won't say who she's portraying, because you'll be able to figure it out relatively early on, but what I like about it is it kind of shows a side to this person's character like what could have happened or maybe there's a different side to the story that we don't know about. And we give another version and I think it's been really interesting. Her name is Sharlee Cates, played by Ashley Johnson.

Has your role as Lucy affected your views or your feelings at all towards the paparazzi or towards tabloids?

Courtney Cox: I would say that playing this character and working on this show has definitely shown me how hard it is and how competitive it is. It's just really hard to run a successful magazine. I get that. And I've gotten just how many paparazzi there are out there and how hard it is to get the exclusive picture. So yes, I guess I've learned, it doesn't mean that I agree with it all, and I definitely don't agree with the obsession on certain celebrities. I understand the fascination, but when it gets obsessive I think it gets dangerous. So I haven't changed my view, but definitely I've learned all sides of it, for sure.

One of my favorite things about Dirt is the relationship between Lucy and Don, and I was wondering if we are going to get more of that this season and how it's going to evolve?

Courtney Cox: Well there definitely is more of it this season, and I think they're kind of the core of the show, and that relationship is really important. Don this year has taken, he's on medication now so his schizophrenia has been toned way back and he's much more in control, which makes him have to look at what he's do for a living and how far he goes for Lucy. So they've kind of reversed roles a little bit. As opposed to her taking care of him, he's taking care, did I say that right, yes, he's taking care of her more. And so it's an interesting change this year.

You touched on this a little bit earlier, but I just wanted to ask if you can talk a little bit more about how and if Lucy has changed this season after being stabbed, after almost dying. Does she come back with a different outlook or is she the same ruthless person we saw in Season One?

Courtney Cox: She is ruthless, but she definitely has a different outlook on life. She doesn't take it quite so seriously. I think she's a little more appreciative of what she has and how great-I think she just likes her job more as opposed to needing to tell the truth for some personal reason. It's more like, 'Hey, I've got a great job. This is fun. I want to be the best I can be at it.' And I think that she's a little more daring in certain ways, but for a better reason, just for a more fun outlook as opposed to for, like I said before, some personal vendetta against people.

Now I'm curious, you guys ended season one with that great cliffhanger, and I heard that you guys were only able to complete seven episodes this year because of the strike. I'm wondering about the through line over the course of the season, does it just sort of drop off at the end or is there going to be another great cliffhanger? What's going to be happening?

Courtney Cox: Well, we didn't know that we were going to not finish, but the strike kind of changed all of that. So luckily, what works in our favor this year, which would have not have worked last year at all, is that each episode is self-contained, even though there may be a character that goes over a few episodes you can watch each one and feel like you've wrapped up a story. So luckily, episode seven, which is the one that we finished on, if you didn't know it wasn't, no one's getting stabbed, but it's still an exciting episode. I mean, do we have bigger plans? Sure, but does it work? Yes.

I like that you mentioned the Lucy and Don relationship and how great it is, and I'm a fan of Lucy and Holt as a romantic relationship. Do you think that they ever will have some kind of healthy relationship, and is Lucy able to have a healthy relationship?

Courtney Cox: That's definitely something that we were going to explore, and we did. I like Holt and Lucy too. I think it's really interesting. Two kind of lost souls trying to make it, and the way they come together. I think that's kind of what we were going to explore and we started to. And we've continued to explore it in season three, if we get picked up. So she definitely has her fears and intimacy issues, as many of us do, but I don't know, I like that you like that and I think we're going to explore it more.

I was actually wondering if you were personally really affected by the paparazzi in your past life, and if this show's a really good and fun retaliation like producing all the scripts, getting back at the paparazzi a little bit?

Courtney Cox: Well, you know it's funny because I definitely have a lot of experience with the paparazzi, but I don't feel like it's really a retaliation. I feel like we're just kind of-I've said this before, but I really mean it, I think that no one's really a good guy in this. I think it really shows the dark side of magazines, it shows the dark side of paparazzi and it also shows, I think we humanize everyone too. So it kind of is, I think, a little bit of an accurate portrayal of these kinds of characters.

I read that in the season premiere that Holt's fame is rising and Willa wants to take on a bigger role at the magazine. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?

Courtney Cox: Yes. We open it up with me in the hospital, and at this point Holt is extremely famous. He's kind of gotten all of his wishes come true except for he has a lot of baggage that came with it. Willa, who was wanting to take over my job, she kind of has a revelation that maybe it's harder than she thought. But she's now not the young, new reporter, she's much more savvy this year and she's just become really smart. And Don Konkey is on medication, so there's been a bunch of changes this year.

What else is important for you to change when coming back for the second season?

Courtney Cox: To make it more relatable so it wasn't alienating. I think the fans that liked it last year, hopefully they will be like you and hopefully they will enjoy the changes that we've made. But I felt like last year it was dark and it was serious, and it was really interesting and I loved it. But I think this year it'll be more of a fun show to watch, where you're kind of guessing who are we talking about. And it's stuff that people know about, and then we can give you a different perspective on it. We have new characters that I think add humor. It's just an all over more fun, lighter tone, but hopefully still outrageous.

The second season of Dirt premieres on Sunday March 2 at 10 PM ET on the F/X network.

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