The Starter Wife

As our day at Culver Studios wore on, we started to meet some of the new faces on this mini-series-turned-regular series, The Starter Wife, which premieres on the USA Network on Friday, October 10 at 9 PM ET. I forgot to mention this in the first part, but I have a review up of the pilot episode, which I did enjoy. Yeah, it surprised me too, guys. Deal with it.

Anyway, lets get on with it, shall we? Next up we have a roundtable with James Black, who plays the closeted gay lover of Rodney, Felix Soul. He's closeted because he's one of the biggest movie action stars in the entire world, and he can't let the secret out, for his career's sake. Black was a very entertaining interview subject, as you'll find out at the beginning where he takes a turn from the normal interview protocol.

James Black

James Black: Hello. My name's James, James Black. I am black. I've been playing black men for a very long time, since I am-since the early 20s. Uh, and I play Felix Soul, and it was a very interesting character, and now that he's being fleshed out, he's even more interesting. I'll talk a little bit, and then you can ask me questions. Is that-is that okay, or how do we work this?

That works.

James Black: Okay. Felix Soul, action star, is my childhood dream because I've always wanted to play an action star, from the days of Batman and Robin, when I was Robin, and my brother was Batman, and the couch was the Batmobile. And you know, it's funny that it never moved, but we certainly had our, you know, stories. But back to The Starter Wife and Felix Soul. You know, it's amazing to me that anything you do in life-anything that you do in theater, in TV, has already been done in real life. So I imagine there's this action star running around who is trying to stay behind closed doors. And I'll just stop talking there and let you guys ask me your questions, if that's okay. Is that okay?

Yeah, absolutely.

James Black: Okay. All right. If you don't have any questions, I'll just-I'll just dance. I've been practicing all morning.

Is this the first time that you've ever played a character like Felix, where you're closeted and you're trying-bringing out this, you know, macho persona, but you know, living a lie, essentially? Just to preserve an image?

James Black: No, I grew up playing characters in the closet. I grew up in Dover, Ohio, and for the seven years that I was in high school-the five years that I was in high school, I played a white guy. No. Yeah, it is. It is, actually. The first time I've played a character that is trying desperately to keep inside of the closet, and you know, there's-that's a lot of stress. I mean, to, you know, think about the character. You read the scripts, and you're like, wow, you have to date a woman that you don't like and spend all this time with her and spend money with her and go with her, and you don't even like her. It's like having family members that you don't like, that you have to see every Thanksgiving.

Your character, though, is so adamant that he's straight.

James Black: Yeah.

What do you think is his biggest motivation? Is it fear? Is it he just is in completely in denial and oblivious, or is it fear that he's going to lose his cache as an action star?

James Black: You know, I played pro football, and I know that there was a couple of gay guys on the team. You can tell because they smelled better than everybody else. I swear to God.


James Black: You'd be on the-oh, man, you'd be on the field, and you'd-he'd-somebody would run by, and you'd be like, "Come on!" And, you know, and his shoulder pads would be just right, and but you didn't want to come out because there was so much just disdain for that kind of person in that kind of world. To come out as a football player and be gay, you would last about ten seconds, if that long, because something would happen to you. You would get-somebody would hurt you, and nobody would care. One time, this guy had a cramp in his leg during a meeting, and my brother and I wrestled, and I knew how to get it out. So he fell on the ground. He's screaming, and I started getting it out, and everybody's like, "What are you touching him for? Ew, you're gay!" And I'm like, man, there's no tolerance at all. In football, and I'm guessing in this world of action star, if middle America knew that the action star that they went to see kill the bad guy likes to, you know, play with butterflies, they wouldn't watch him anymore, and his life is over.

So it's fear?

James Black: It's complete and total fear.

How did you go from athletics to acting?

James Black: Athletics to acting. Well, I went to see my brother in a play when I was in ninth grade. What was it? Sermon on the Mount. What was that play? I can't remember the play, but a lot of guys-I was in choir, too, so a lot of the guys in the choir were in the plays. So I would go see them, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying was one of my favorites back in high school. I mean, you got to float down to the thing and sing and I was like, man, that is a lot of fun. So I wanted to do it, and I went to audition for a play, and the guy who was the acting teacher, acting coach, said, "You can try out for this play, but you're never going to get into one of my plays, ever," because he didn't like football players. So this was a burning desire that I've had since high school, and when I went to college, there's no time for-unless you're a theater major, but there's no time to be a theater major and play football. So I had to choose. So my senior year, I was in the chorus of Midsummer's Night Dream, and I got to run around in tights and big shoes and sing-what was it? Italian? I had no-I don't even know what the play's about. I just loved it. The Sound of Music.

So when I got done with football, I got into radio and TV, and I was a DJ. And I was bored with that quickly, and something happened in my life that made-you come to a crossroads of what you want to do and what you're doing, and I decided at that moment that I would quit my job and be an actor. So I drove out here, and I started acting, and that was pretty much my introduction to Hollywood. Go, "Here I am!" And I had an agent before I got out here, and my car broke down, seven times. But it broke down again about a block away from the audition that I had, and I got there as they were leaving, and I, you know, walked to their car, walked them, the producers, to their car, and I auditioned for them, and I got the part. And that has been the way that I pursue acting now, is whatever it takes. Sort of like football.

Whatever it takes. And wrestling because, you know, you just-it's one-on-one, it's you against the other guy, and there's no excuses because if you say, you know, "The sun got in my eye." It's like, "Oh. Really." But in the regular season, I was undefeated for four years, and then I'd go to State and I'd get beat every year that I was on varsity. Well, I got beat once my senior year.

So how do you-the things that the show lampoons, the bad behavior, the Hollywood wife syndrome, the eccentricities of fame and fortune, how do you avoid falling into those pitfalls, and you know, what do you insulate yourself with in this town?

James Black: You know, it's funny. When I first moved out here, it took me about a year, and I got a TV show. The Burning Zone. It was on UPN. Two weeks before that, I was an extra on another show, and the regulars on that show treated me like a-less than a step-child. Two weeks pass, I get a show, we start to go in production, and some of these people are guest stars on my show. I get a chance to feel it. They didn't even remember who I was, but they were kissing my butt, and I thought, I never, ever, ever, ever want to feel like that or have that-anybody treated the way I was treated. And I know firsthand that people's personality change with the car that you drive up in. What's behind your names. And I don't have time for that. I just don't have time for that. You know, where I grew up in Dover, we don't have time for that. You stand in line. You're the next person. You don't get in front of the line. You know, that's the way I was brought up, so that's the way that I continue to live my life here.

Do you surround yourself with other Midwestern sensibility-type actors and friends here, and keep a small, close group?

James Black: Yeah, it's funny that people told me when I moved out here that you're going to attract the people that you grew up with, and it's up to you if you want to let them in or reject them. And yeah, I do. I stay with my family. A couple guys from Akron U that are actors now, that are comedians, we hang out. Our kids play together. And I don't do much. You know, I do my thing. I go home. I water the plants.

Do you and Chris have love scenes? How is that relationship going to progress in the show?

James Black: We had our first love scene in, like, episode two or three or something, and yes, it does progress, and yes, I do get caught, and yes, I deny the whole thing. "It wasn't me." And can I tell the story line? Is that okay to tell the story line, or should you just watch the episodes? It gets really interesting. Is that too-yeah. That's enough.

Who catches you?

James Black: My girlfriend.

Oh? Because you have a good entourage.

James Black: I do. My-well, my boys know. My close boys know, and you know, if you get paid enough money, everybody's happy. Nobody goes off and tells your story, and you know, you're safe. I think. If there's enough money involved and you're still making people money, I think that everybody's safe. But as soon as somebody's disgruntled and they don't get what they want, then there's a book or there a rumor. And-that never happens. So people never just sort of whisper in somebody's ear. So my boys know, you know, they got my back on the show. And my girlfriend finds out, and it gets ugly.

So have you been involved in any of the fantasy sequences yet?

James Black: No, but man, I want to be in every one of them.

Which one do you want to do, like, the most? Do you have a pitch?

James Black: I want to be in the Mission: Impossible one. There's one coming out. They did the Body Heat. That's amazing. I love that movie, and it's funny to me because I was talking to somebody about the movie, Body Heat, and he was a stunt guy that was on the show a couple weeks ago. He had never seen it.

Debra has a huge fan base from, you know, a number of things she's been in, but specifically, you know, a lot of people know her from Will & Grace, and obviously, you know, she's got a lot of fans in the gay community. And coming out of a mini series, you know, Rodney's character and then your relationship, is going to be a huge story arc within this series. Are you one, excited to be a sort of unknown icon in the gay community, and two, do you think that they're-from what we haven't seen, do you think that they're going to be really happy with the relationship as it's developed?

James Black: I think they're going to be-I think they're going to be extremely happy. Do you mean the gay community?

Yeah, I mean the gay community.

James Black: I love having fans, and my neighbor, Doug Spearman, is on the show-on Logo. What's the name of that show? Anyway, he was the mayor of a parade. They asked him to ride in a float. I want that. So yes, I'm looking forward to it, and I think that they're going to be happy with-well, I've talked to a few of my friends who are gay. You know, some of my best friends are gay. That's a bad joke. Never mind. A lot of people say, "Some of my best friends are black," to me all the time. I'm like, really? That's great. So some of my best friends are gay, and I forgot what I was going to say. What did you ask me?

Oh, whether or not, you know-how you think they're-[indiscernible] happy, how well you think that relationship is developed.

James Black: They told me they're going to watch the show because of me, so I'm glad. So maybe I can get a better parking space now on the street. Who knows.

Do your gay friends get incensed that you're not gay, and you get this great gay role? Like, you know how, like, Hispanic actors get very angry when, like, an Italian actor gets a Hispanic role? And do gay actors get upset when a straight actor snags a great role?

James Black: I don't think so. We're all actors, and people get parts for so many different reasons that-

You know what I mean, though.

James Black: I do know what you mean. I talked to Doug, my neighbor, and he's like, you know, I got it because I have certain qualities that maybe a gay actor has, that go against the part. Or maybe my build to go against-you know, you have to be able to play both sides. So-because I was in art and dance.

And wrestling.

James Black: And wrestling. Because I wear a singlet. I have very little clothes on, and I grab in between people's legs on purpose and get points for it. You know, I don't think so.

That does exist, though. Like-

James Black: It does because-

Actors get very incensed when they think that that slot should be theirs, and another actor from a different ethnicity grabs it.

James Black: Yeah, like Hispanics play Indians in movies, and rappers play actors. I do know what you mean, but in this case, I don't-I don't think so. Because there's a certain mold that I think-that it has to be fit in a certain way. And then I'd imagine that there are some gay actors who auditioned for the part, that aren't out. Because we don't all wear signs, but no, I don't think so. On a certain level of acting, you get mad when somebody gets a role, but after a while, if you've been around long enough, there's enough work for everybody, and if you're going to spend your time getting mad about not getting a part, then you are so missing your opportunity. And the attitude that you carry with you is going to keep you from getting parts. So I don't think so. That's how I feel about it.

I was wondering, does your character have, like, big movie roles? Like, are these fake movies that he was in? Do you have those kind of movies that your character's been in?

James Black: My story line is I am the lead actor of the series Dark Acts. Dark Acts I, Dark Acts II, Dark Acts III. The franchise. So Dark Acts, I wield axes and swords and I go to a gun fight with a sword. So yeah, that's-Dark Acts I, II and III, the trilogy, and I'm guessing in season two-did I just say that? Who knows what's going to happen? I'll be out by then.

Did you and Chris read together when you auditioned for the part?

James Black: No.

You didn't? Because you're-the chemistry or, I don't know, the tension between you is just magnificent.

James Black: Thank you. We have talked about how well-and it doesn't happen very often. But sometimes you just click with an actor, and I did with him immediately, and I wish I could tell you why. But I commend Mr. Learner and the folks, the producers. They knew. They knew. I give them full credit for that. I've had, you know, like, chemistry reads and stuff with other people, and you can't fake it. You just can't fake it.

But it's that fine line of tension and chemistry, and you just-it's brilliant.

James Black: Thank you. I haven't seen anything, so maybe I should see something.

After that very entertaining interview, we got another two-for-one interview, and a rather interesting one at that. We talked to David Alan Basche, who plays Molly's ex-husband Kenny and Alysia Reiner, who plays another starter wife, Cindy, and is also David's real-life wife. This one started with some hilarious introductions as well.

David Alan Basche and Alysia Reiner

David Alan Basche: I'm David Basche. I guess official David Alan Basche, although in this episode we're filming now there's a great joke about three-named actors being pretentious, and I get to say it. So I'm David Basche, and I play Kenny, Debra's ex-husband. I'm not Peter Jacobson. I know Peter and like him very much. Saw him last week. He's doing fine on House, so he's given me his blessing. That's my story.

Alysia Renier: And I'm Alysia Renier. I'm David's starter wife. \And I play Cindy who's another starter wife on the show.

So what was it like to replace Peter for this part, and David, did you try to reason with them in any way or just throw it out the window?

David Alan Basche: When I saw Peter-I saw him last week at the premier of The Women. We were at Debra's premiere. But when I'd seen him previously when we just started filming, I saw him at the gym and he said, "Hey, you're David." And I said, "Yeah, Peter." Because we know each other. We have some friends in common. We didn't know each other all that well. And he said, "How's it going over there? Debra says things are great." And I didn't want to say, "Oh my god, I'm having the most fun I've ever had in television!" So I kind of held back a little bit and said, "Yeah, no, sure, it's good. You know, it's good." And he said, "C'mon, man. She's great. You must be having a ball." And then I spilled it and said, "Okay, I'm having the most fun I've ever had in television."

And I said, "Look, I can't be you. I can't fill your shoes. I can't do what you do because you were so great in the mini-series. I watched every hour of it, and you were just fantastic. So I'm just sort of doing my own thing." And he said, "Good. Good." He said, "You don't have to feel too bad for me. House, the show is doing pretty well." And I said, "I didn't think so." And then he looked at me-this is very funny-then he looked and me, and I'm here and Peter's about here, and he said, "You know, I'm just glad-I would have been insulted, so I'm just glad they didn't hire another short, bald, Jewish guy." I said, "I am Jewish, but okay."

So you know, I'm trying to-clean slate. Clean slate. That's the short answer, is taking over the role of Kenny, having had another actor play it previously, I feel like I just decided to wipe the slate clean. Josie and Sara were great, and they said, "We see him as a cheerful sociopath." And I said, "Great. I'd like to steer a little bit towards lovable narcissist." And he's still somewhat sociopathic at times, but Kenny's just sort of like a puppy. He's a very intelligent, very good at what he does, puppy. Perhaps like many men.

Sorry, guys. He's easily distracted. He doesn't think before he speaks. He blurts out the first thing that's on his mind. Doesn't really have any regard for anybody else's feelings or what's going on around him. But you just can't hate him because sometimes he's funny and he's charming. So that's my goal is to toe that line of the viewers saying, "Oh, I see why Debra and Kenny were married in the first place. I don't dislike him." But then also think, "Oh my god, what's the next crazy thing that's going to come out of Kenny's mouth?"

Alysia Renier: He just needs a good trainer.

It seems like in the first two episodes that I saw, there's still love there between you and Debra's character. You have a very touching scene where you were holding hands, reviewing the [new baby tape]. It just seems like that there is still love there. So do you want to talk about that?

David Alan Basche: Yeah. I think, well, first of all as people watch the episodes there will be a little bit more revealed I think in Episode 4, 5, 6, 7 about why Kenny and Molly were together in the first place. About what Molly saw in him. About what she does still like about him. Kenny's a good dad. He's a little aloof, but he's there and he shows up and he makes the time and he's fiercely protective of his daughter.

There's a really great, fun moment when a kid at the pool is giving my daughter a hard time, and even though his last name is Spielberg I push him right in the pool. And then of course immediately regret it because there goes my career. So there's two sides to that coin.

And I think the relationship with Molly and Kenny is one that I hope is in many ways realistic despite our comedy. That, you know, you spend ten years with somebody, even at the end if it's ugly we hear from friends of all-we all hear about messy divorces, but at some point you realize, "I was really head-over-heels in love with that person." And that doesn't go away so easily. And for me as an actor one of the things I loved about the part when I first read it was that layer. It's not a caricature. It's not just he's the asshole ex-husband. I don't mind being called that. That's great. But that's not all he is. And just like you watch Jeremy Piven in Entourage and you're like, "He's the asshole agent," but you just love to hate him and there's a little piece of him that's still human and he just can't bring himself to quite completely not do the right thing.

And so I like that layer of love underneath there with Molly. I say I'm not jealous about Zach, her new boyfriend. C'mon. Of course I'm jealous, and that comes out later. You see me say, "No, no. It doesn't bother me. I don't mind." And then two episodes later it finally comes out. So I like the layering of that in our relationship, and I think we'll continue to see more of that.

What is it like for you guys working together, and you're expecting? Are you running and getting her pickles from Craft Services?

David Alan Basche: I have to admit that there have been a couple times where my wife has actually had pickles and ice cream. I think it probably was more to please me.

Alysia Renier: Totally.

David Alan Basche: There. The truth comes out. It's been great. Alysia's been working steadily all the way through the pregnancy, and she's done episodes of our show but then was back East working, working on a film and in theater and a Web series and all this other stuff. So I have weekends off, so back I went. And we hadn't told anybody that she was pregnant yet, but I just came back five weekends in a row.

Alysia Renier: He was awesome that way because I was back East working a bunch. And I have to say your body takes over in ways you had never expected. And there have been moments-I was telling someone recently I was sobbing hysterically because I said, "It's only 1:00 and I've eaten so much and I'm going to be hungry again," because your body just takes over. And he's been the most extraordinary husband in whatever I need or want.

David Alan Basche: That's now on the record.

Alysia Renier: Whatever I need or want.

David Alan Basche: What was it? The most extraordinary husband.

Alysia Renier: The most extraordinary husband ever because be it food or sex, which no ones tells you-and I don't know if this is all women, but my sex drive is through the roof. And he's been so phenomenally accommodating, shall we say.

David Alan Basche: I do what I can. Moving on. It's been nice to work on the same set together, a segue to that. Now I'm blushing.

No, it's been great to work on the same set together. We met doing theater, and we've done more theater together. We've done some film together. We've never done television together. We've never been on the same TV set, so that was really exciting. And we hear a little talk of some more episodes for Cindy next season and some other interesting things, so that would make us both happy.

Alysia Renier: When we told the show that we were pregnant, we said, "We have a great idea. What if Kenny gets Cindy pregnant?"

David Alan Basche: And there was kind of a pause, and all the writers were like, "We could do that. Oh, wait. You really are-" and they figured

it out right away.

So did they know you guys were married at first?

David Alan Basche: When you auditioned, did they know? I don't think so.

Alysia Renier: I don't think so.

David Alan Basche: I don't think so. I was supposed to put in a good word and I was a little slow about it. Because I knew one of the writers on the show. I had never met Sara and Josie except for when I tested for the role and we started working together, but I know Howard Morris from another thing we did together, and so I was supposed to call Howard and say, "Look, you should cast my wife in this part. It's nepotism. Do it. She's great. She's a pro. Do it." And I think I was a little late, and so when Alysia came home I started to say, "Okay, I'm going to email Howard, I'm going to-" And she cut me off, and she said, "I booked it, [I booked]." I was like, "Oh, all right."

I haven't seen the first two episodes like some people here but I have read that Zach and Kenny live in the same apartment building? So can you talk a little bit about the dynamic? And you mentioned there's some jealousy about-

David Alan Basche: Yes. How can I describe Santa Monica Terrace? That's the apartment complex where we live. Suffice it to say that Zach's divorced, and he lives there in the penthouse apartment. I'm divorced, and I live there in the penthouse apartment. If one needs sugar, you knock on Charlie Sheen's door. It's that kind of place. It's the bachelor place. The divorced Hollywood guy place. And so far there hasn't been any 'Kenny meets Zach in the hallway' or 'Kenny meets Zach in an elevator'. There hasn't been any of that, which is interesting. And I think they're going to kind of save that god willing, for Season 2 and see who else moves into that complex. And I think it would be great to have, like, real people. Just, like, when you get in the elevator you're like, "Hey. Oh, hey."

And yeah, the dynamic between Zach and Kenny is, at first Kenny is oblivious. He really is sort of like, "Hey, knock yourself out. We're not married anymore. Do whatever you want." And there's a-I can't remember what episode it is. Maybe 5. There's a wonderful scene where I haven't quite put together that they're actually a couple. And that's that part of Kenny that in normal social situations, a little slow, a little distractible. If it's business, if you're talking about getting a movie made, there is no slow or distractible. He's your guy and it's going to get done. But I can't quite figure out that my wife is actually dating this guy until I see them in the tub together. Until I walk into the house. I use my key that I still have, and they're in the tub, and they're like, "What the hell?" And I'm like, "Hey, guys, so listen, I have a great idea for the film. We're going to do this." And I just start doing business while they're sitting naked in the tub there.

So after that I finally put together that they're actually a couple. And as I said there appears to be no jealousy. But then it takes Kenny a little while and he realizes, "Wait a minute. Wait a minute. That's mine." And she says, "No. I was never yours and it doesn't work that way." And so then Debra and I get to have some great scenes where we have to work through that.

And I think that's part of the appeal of the show is all these relationship issues. It's not like, "Oh, well, I'm not divorced. Will I like the show?" It's not like, "I'm not 20. Will I like the show?" There's a little bit of something for everybody, I think, and this is just interpersonal communication. Just how men and women communicate. It's how couples communicate, regardless of gender, I think. Just, you know, it fascinates me.

You mentioned that Kenny's a good dad but in the first two episodes he made some interesting choices. I think he takes money from his daughter's school and then he moves into this interesting apartment.

David Alan Basche: You say that like it's a bad thing. Yeah, well see, that's Kenny. He's like, "Uh huh. It'll be fine. It'll be fine." He's very positive He's very optimistic. So there's no problem because the money was for reshoots on a film, and that, sure, the reshoots will be great and the film will work out very well, but I won't give away the story.

But yeah, he sells the house out from under Molly and doesn't tell Molly or Jaden. He's like, get the money for the reshoots. So yes, absolutely. And that's the side that I've embraced that yeah, was that the right thing to do? No. Was it nice? No. Considerate? No. Thoughtful? Uh uh. That's not Kenny. He's neither nice nor thoughtful nor considerate. Doesn't pay attention. Doesn't listen very well. But he's still in love with his wife. He loves his daughter.

And again that's-I'm looking forward to seeing worse things. What else is Kenny going to do that's bad, that's wrong, that's not acceptable, that's taboo? How can I push the envelope? And I told Sara and Josie, "Good. Bring me fun stuff. People want to watch that. They want to see, "Oh my god, he's a horrible asshole.'" And then at the end of the episode or even the next episode or even the last episode of the season, he does something heartless, he does something selfless. Then you're surprised and you're like, "Very interesting." I don't want him to be a caricature.

Has there been any Hollywood dealings like yourself, that you kind of reference that character for at different times yourself?

David Alan Basche: Yeah. I apologized to my manager profusely when we started this, and I said, "Dude, like, the black shirt with the stripes and the jeans," I said, "It's the uniform." That's what I told them I wanted to wear as Kenny, and the shades and the car. Yeah, I think we've all met plenty of Hollywood guys like that, and I will forever hope to not become that in real life. And I have a very good-

Alysia Renier: Trainer.

David Alan Basche: But yeah, I actually once had a commercial agent. I was with William Morris for a very brief time in New York, and this guy was an assistant and had his head up his ass, and he managed to get his boss fired and the next time I saw him he has his feet up on his boss' desk. And I came in. He was bringing all the clients in and he said, "Hey, you've got nothing to worry about. I'm your biggest fan." And he gave me the wink and a snap, and I said, "Okay." Never heard from him again. Agency dropped me. But I didn't get a phone call to say sorry. I mean, never heard from him again.

And then it was what? Ten years. Eight years or something. I was doing the show with Eli Wallach. And I was doing a two-character play. I was doing a play in New York with Eli Wallach. Nobody came to see me. They came to see him. Nobody knew who I was. But there I was. There was only two people so they were stuck saying hello to me after the show. And there he is. And I had a great moment because he came up to me and he was like, "Hey!" And I just said, "Sorry, you are? Have we met?" And he's like, "David, it's me." And I said, "I'm not getting it." He's like, "From William Morris." I was like, "Was I with William Morris?" I just played it straight, and he was like-and I just kind of walked-and he had a whole big group with him and I kind of watched him go, "Ahem." And then I just said, "Well," I said, "I've really got to run." I went, "See you later." And he kind of went, "Oooh." I don't know if that translated. That was a wink and a snap. And so one thing that I took from him is Kenny's wink. And I would imagine there's not an episode that goes by where Kenny doesn't wink. And it can be when he's completely lying and he's saying, "We'll get the money back, it'll be good." Or it can be to his daughter, like, "You did good." Like that. So I don't know where-I guess that's where it came from. I didn't really know, but.

Alysia, what are some of the appalling Hollywood wives stories that you've heard that you kind of infuse into your performance and in your brain as far as things that you say and do in situations?

Alysia Renier: Yeah. For me I am such an old-fashioned girl, and for me the concept of starter wife in general is so appalling. The idea that someone has a time limit in a relationship just blows my mind. And I think one of my favorite things about this show is that it spotlights the insanity that happens in this town in an incredibly humorous way, but also with a great deal of pathos for those women. And I think that's what will make people really connect to this show is that it's very funny and there are these fabulous fantasy sequences, and there's heart to it. And that's really important to me.

I always love art that sort of makes the world a better place. And not to get all whatever, but I love this show because of that. Because it has that heart to it. That it shows this is not okay. You see, like, this is not okay. This woman is-Molly is walking through this the best she can. Cindy is walking through this the best she can. But it really sucks.

David Alan Basche: And to be treated badly by the Hollywood establishment. They revoke your country club pass. They take things away from you based on your husband's status. It's really ludicrous.

Alysia Renier: So that's what I connect to in Cindy is the deliciousness of playing the comedy of it, but also the importance of the heart of it.

Can you give us a little bit of her backstory and then where she is now?

Alysia Renier: Cindy's a girl who similarly her husband gallivanted off with a younger woman. Divorced, and has nothing. No money. She's working at the Starting Gate School so-

David Alan Basche: That's where our daughter goes and that's where Zach's daughter goes.

Alysia Renier: And I'm doing that so my kids can continue to go there. So I can keep on the image of the life. And it's a great example of a woman who will go to any lengths to keep up that appearance really just for her kids, so they get the life that she really thinks is important to them.

David Alan Basche: In one episode there's a little bit of a story about a benefit. There's all these charity benefits in Hollywood, which is great. We're not upset that people do benefits. It's great. But because Molly and Cindy are starter wives, and the other starter wives, they get relegated to the back. So they are the farthest away from the podium, all the way in the back in the cheap seats. And it's just such a-I think it's just a dead-on social commentary about what's really important? Is it your status and how far you are or how close you are to the podium, or is it how money you raise for a worthy cause? It's very interesting.

Alysia Renier: And I think that's an interesting thing that I hope they explore a little bit more with this character and with the show in general, of what we believe is important on this earth. And how that translates in this town particularly. And it's a really fine line with the comedy of it because that's what makes people watch. It's so delicious. And the heart of it.

David Alan Basche: Well said.

Is it a challenge? I mean, here you are, you're both famous. You're seen by millions of people. Yet you say you're a traditional woman. You're from New York. I'm an East Coast person. I understand the mentality. How do you protect and insulate your family life and keep things normal here for yourself as your fame grows and as the show-?

David Alan Basche: We're about to find out.

Alysia Renier: You live in New York when you're not shooting. We live in Harlem when we're not here. And I have to say I grew up-

David Alan Basche: No pun intended, but that's keeping it real.

Alysia Renier: Yeah. I grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and I love New York. I love taking the subway because I love on a daily basis, seeing an incredible variety of human beings with an incredible variety of lives. And I always-I've never gotten off the plane here and not been shocked by the amount of plastic surgery and conformity and-what's the word that I'm looking for? When you spend a lot of money. Conspicuous consumption is the word I was looking for.

Really? Manhattan has its share of it though.

Alysia Renier: Yeah. You definitely have that on the Upper East Side.

David Alan Basche: But not like here. The car culture here alone is enough to tip the scales. I'm surprised that we don't fall off into the ocean just from all the Bentleys around here.

Alysia Renier: And Hummers.

David Alan Basche: And we like L.A. I'm just going to jump in and say when we first came to L.A. we were-friends had been saying, "L.A.'s so fake and everybody's so plastic and you're not going to like it and you have to drive everywhere. Stab you in the back." And we said, "You know what? So we'll keep our New York place." We have a little apartment. "We'll keep our New York apartment and we'll come to L.A." They're flying us out. We're working. We love L.A. The weather's great. There's great people here. There's a lot of work here. The industry has so many different facets to it. There's so much of it that's wonderful. And every once in a while you get to do a job like this, which is spectacularly fun. And maybe even work together.

So there's all these great things. We choose to go back to New York because we've noticed about ourselves that it's hard not to get caught up in L.A. It's a challenge not to get caught up in the L.A. bullshit, honestly. And that's not a comment on any of you who live here. It's true. If you say there's no Hollywood bullshit, you're lying. It's here and we all know it's here and it's that culture of, you know, you're only as famous as the last picture you did or how big your opening was or what car did you drive up to the last premiere? And we drive in a Prius because that's the right thing to do not because-

That's a very chic L.A. car, though.

David Alan Basche: Not when we had it.

You're trendsetters.

David Alan Basche: And Hart Bochner drives-there's a fuel-cell vehicle parked over there and it's ugly but it's 200 miles to the gallon or something. So I'm interested in that side of L.A., too, the side of L.A. and California that's really progressive and really open minded and really into looking towards the future. So there's great energy out here. Great stuff out there.

Alysia Renier: And we have amazing friends out here who keep us grounded, and we-I love living by the beach. The ocean is always a wonderful tool to remember that you're not the most important thing on this earth.

David Alan Basche: Yeah, it makes you feel small in a very good way. And when I said we're about to-you said, "How do you keep it real?" And I said, "We're about to find out." I mean, literally we're about to find out. I don't know how you do it as a family.

Is it your first?

Alysia Renier: Yeah, first one.

David Alan Basche: First baby. We have friends that do it, and one set of friends we have, they're both actors and fairly high profile. She's wildly famous. And they are very protective of their time together and their privacy, so I think that's something we'll have to learn to do. And we're pretty good at setting boundaries with people and saying, "We need this time for ourselves." And we love when people come up and say, "I saw you in that thing and will you sign this?" Yes, absolutely. I love it. Are you kidding me? I love it. If I'm with my kid-and I keep saying "kid" because we don't know if it's a boy or a girl-if I say, "Look, we're with our kid. We're eating dinner. Hang out, come back in 15 minutes when we're leaving, and I'll absolutely sign a few."

So I think we're going to have to learn some of those little tricks about how do you protect your privacy a little bit and your private life? And that's going to be tough because here we are spilling it. She's talking about her sex life and I'm talking about this. Apparently we need a little practice at the privacy thing. We'll see. And it's that old thing, be careful what you wish for. Do we want the show to be wildly successful? Yes. Honesty I think it's going to be-a friend of ours wrote Raising the Bar, and we heard that it had a great premiere on cable, 7.7 million people or something like that. And so I'm thinking 8.5, [10] maybe, 8.5, 8.1 would be okay.

And with that, after another of his famous winks, David Alan Basche and his wife Alysia Reiner were off to the set again, and we'll wrap it up here for Part II of my The Starter Wife set visit, but we have one more part left. In the last leg of this day full of interviews, we talk to three more newcomers to the show, in Daniel Gerroll, who plays the cranky Brit actor that Judy Davis befriends at her rehab clinic, Danielle Nicolet, who plays Liz Marsh, wife of the L.A. Dodgers star relief pitcher Devon Marsh, and we talk to Reggie Austin who portrays Devon. Look for my Part III piece very shortly. Peace in. Gallagher out!