Reba McEntire on “Malibu Country” and working with Lily Tomlin and Jai Rodriguez
Reba McEntire’s return to series television is a successful one with ABC this week giving a full-season order to Malibu Country.
She had been absent from the small screen since the end of the sitcom Reba in 2007, McEntire’s first sitcom which ran for five successful season.
While McEntire once again plays a newly-single woman with children whose marriage broke up due to a cheating husband, there are many differences.
Among them is more of a gay sensibility with early episodes featuring two friends of her character’s daughter – one a lesbian and the other a gay male classmate who are expected to appear in future episodes.
‘I’ve got a huge gay following, and they’ve always been very supportive,’ McEntire tells The Advocate.
A more prominent gay character on Malibu Country is played by Queer Eye for the Straight Guy alum Jai Rodriguez.
‘He is an incredible actor,’ she says of Rodriguez. ‘Great in person to get to work with, and I smother him to pieces. He was doing Rent on Broadway when I was doing Annie Get Your Gun in 2001 on Broadway. It’s really funny how our paths have run parallel for so long. I was auditioning the people for his role of the assistant of the record executive, and when he came in it was just clear he was the one for the part. Jai’s incredible.’
Then there is Lily Tomlin, the comedy icon and lesbian star who plays McEntire’s mother on the show.
‘It’s wonderful working with Lily,’ McEntire says. ‘She’s just so much fun. She’s down-to-earth. She’s not a diva at all. She’s not pretentious. She’s always working on honing her craft and making sure that her character comes to life and [finding out] what’s the background. She’s always studying it, and I’ve learned so much from her.’