InDepth InterView: Jennifer Love Hewitt Talks THE CLIENT LIST, New Music Video, JEWTOPIA, Hollywood & More
Today we are talking to a tremendously talented triple-threat who has been seen by millions on screens large and small for most of her life and can now be seen weekly on Lifetime's hit dramedy series THE CLIENT LIST, the gorgeous and convivial Jennifer Love Hewitt. Discussing all aspects of her role as star and executive producer of the series, now in its second season, Hewitt offers forth her candid insights into her character on the show as well as the larger issues being dealt with in the universe of THE CLIENT LIST. Also, Hewitt comments upon her impressive array of co-stars and guest stars, among them Broadway regulars Loretta Devine and Cybill Shepherd, as well as clues us in on what we can expect from this Sunday's show and the rest of Season Two. Most importantly, Hewitt gives us the 411 on her super-sexy and seriously impressive new music video promoting The Client List featuring her belting the SMOKEY JOE'S CAFÉ barn-burner "I'm A Woman" in showstopping - and heart-stopping - style, produced by AMERICAN IDOL's Randy Jackson and directed by famed photographer Matthew Rolston. Plus, in addition to an all access pass to THE CLIENT LIST, Hewitt opens up about her affection for performing and her plans to pursue more singing, dancing and theatre in the future, packed schedule permitting. Additionally, Hewitt provides memories of lighting up the small screen in presence and song as part of the movie musical A CHRISMAS CAROL, featuring a score by Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens, as well as working with Marc Shaiman as a pre-teen chorus member on SISTER ACT 2. All of that, reflections on what I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER and PARTY OF FIVE co-stars she would like to have appear on THE CLIENT LIST, musings on movie musicals, Glee and KIDS INCORPORATED memories, as well as thoughts on singing more SWEET CHARITY sometime soon (especially following last year's smashing "Big Spender" music video), her affection for burlesque and much, much more!
THE CLIENT LIST airs Sundays at 10 PM on Lifetime. More information is available here.
PC: Do you have fond memories of filming A CHRISTMAS CAROL in 2004? It's a superb adaptation and a really enjoyable film.
JLH: Oh, yes! Of course I do. I think so, too.
PC: It was filmed overseas - in Hungary - correct?
JLH: Yes, you're right - it was. It was filmed in Budapest, actually - which was amazing! It was so beautiful there. I had the best time doing that one.
PC: What was your favorite part of the experience?
JLH: Well, obviously, getting to record that music and sing a little bit on film was always a dream of mine, so that was amazing to get to do it - and with music that great!
PC: Did you get to work one-on-one with Alan Menken?
JLH: Yes, I did. He was just amazing. I am such a fan and I felt so honored to be singing his music in a film.
PC: THE LITTLE MERMAID was big for you growing up, given your age, I bet!
JLH: Oh, yes, it was - of course! Are you kidding me?! [Laughs.]
PC: As someone who started out on KIDS INCORPORTATED, what are your thoughts on Glee and the fandom of that show?
JLH: Oh, I think it's great. I actually have been super-sick this week, so I have been in bed with my DVR catching up on all the GLEEs that I missed - I love it so much. I am a big fan.
PC: Would you be open to be appearing on the show someday - and sing, too?
JLH: Oh, I would love that! I'd love it. I'd love to sing, too!
PC: Wait a minute, how did you get sick? Do you know?
JLH: I think I got it on the plane - I flew to New York to do promotion for the show and I think I caught something on the way back. All I know is that when I got home, it got worse and then I found out I had a bronchial infection. I'm getting better now, though.
PC: There's no avoiding catching something on a plane!
JLH: I know! You're trapped - trapped!
PC: Speaking of the series, congratulations on The Client List becoming such a huge hit in just one season.
JLH: Thank you so much - we were really happy with the reaction to the premiere this year, too. We're all excited.
PC: Season Two will have 15 episodes, up from Season One's 10 episode order, correct?
JLH: Yes. We will. We are actually filming Episode 12 right now, as a matter of fact.
PC: You have some fantastic co-stars on the show - first and foremost, Broadway royalty, Loretta Devine.
JLH: Yes, we do - and, oh, yes, Loretta Devine is just fabulous and I love working with her. And, then, there are the boys, too - they are so great.
PC: Tell me about some of the guest stars we can expect coming up.
JLH: Well, we have a lot of people coming up - I know that we have a lot of soap opera people and also some people I haven't gotten to meet quite yet but who have already been approved and booked for the show. I don't necessarily know everything before it happens, believe it or not! But, yeah, I can tell you that a lot of the guest stars this year are Riley's clients - we have Jonathan Schaech coming up, for example. We have some other interesting people, too.
PC: What has it been like having Cybill Shepherd play your mom?
JLH: Oh, amazing! Just amazing. We just felt so privileged to get her for the movie, and, then, when she agreed to do the series we obviously just felt like we had hit the jackpot - she is just tremendous and her character does some really interesting things this year and has an interesting arc to her story. But, yeah, it's almost surreal to think of the fact that I go to work everyday and, yep, there is Cybill Shepherd playing my TV mom - it's totally amazing! [Laughs.]
PC: Do you share a kinship given your modeling backgrounds and early screen success, particularly given the fact she has had two hit TV series as well as all her impressive film work?
JLH: Oh, definitely - absolutely. I find her film work and TV work extraordinarily inspiring - I really do. Actually, since you mention it, she and I were joking around when we did the original movie that we were the oldest working ones onset - we definitely were the two who had been doing it the longest! [Laughs.]
PC: I bet!
JLH: Ever since then, we always fool around and say we are the old fogeys of the group - and, I guess, in a way, we are! But, seriously, she is just tremendous to work with and a real sweetheart onset, too - obviously, what she has done in her career, like you said, is just incredibly inspiring and she is so, so cool as a person, too.
PC: Would you be interested in having some co-stars from your most famous properties - such as I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER and PARTY OF FIVE - appear on THE CLIENT LIST in the future?
JLH: Oh, that's so funny you say that because we were actually discussing the other day about having Scott Wolf come on - one of the people from PARTY OF FIVE, of course. But, yeah, I think it would be a lot of fun to have any of those people on the show - especially if they come on as clients.
PC: Ryan Phillippe was excellent on the final season of DAMAGES last year, for instance.
JLH: Yes! I know! He's great - Ryan is really talented. I'd totally love having him on the show.
PC: Lifetime offers a very relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere on their sets, I have noticed, does that hold true for THE CLIENT LIST?
JLH: Definitely. Lifetime has been so great to us and the set is just a joy - obviously, given the content of the show, we have to keep it light and keep laughing as much as possible and that is never a problem on our set. We tend to always have a good time - for sure.
PC: You look tremendous on the show - how do you deal with the nudity aspects, both with yourself and your male co-stars?
JLH: [Laughs.] Well, the boys are always wearing skin-colored body stockings under their towels. I always joke to them, you know, "Can't we find something a little more attractive for them to wear under there?!" because they wear these bike-short looking things that are not very appealing. It's very funny because we always try to hide their shorts around the set on the show - like I said, it's obviously a really fun set.
PC: How do you stay in such great shape? You look gorgeous.
JLH: Aww, thank you. To be totally honest, the last couple of weeks it has been almost impossible to work out at all, but I try to do the treadmill and yoga and weights whenever I can. I have a photo shoot coming up and I am really stressing out about it because I want to look like I do in the video, but it's really hard because of the work schedule right now with the show. So, I just do the best that I can. But, I'll tell you I always try to change it up - I never do the same workout because when I do I can sort of feel the muscles know what is coming.
PC: It's about strength and health, not just appearance.
JLH: Totally - healthy and strong is the goal.
PC: Do you hand-pick your own wardrobe - particularly the lingerie?
JLH: Everything. I hand-pick everything. We have a fabulous costume designer and costume department, so they bring me lots of options and we go through everything and pick out what works best based on what I think that client would want me to wear or what I think works best for the particular scene. We have a lot of fun with all that stuff. This year, though, we get to do a few more costume-y type things that I am really excited about, too.
PC: Your costumes in the "I'm A Woman" music video promo are so sensational - as is everything else going on in it!
JLH: [Laughs.] Thank you. Yeah, that top that I wear is beaded and it was handmade for the shoot and I will be wearing it on the show at a certain point this season but I can't tell you when because it is for a pretty pivotal plot point, but you can definitely see it clearly in the promo video. Our costume department is amazing and they did a beautiful job with it. And, then, the white fringe thing was just this random thing that I found in this lingerie store that is one of my absolute favorite places in LA and they just happened to have it there when I was looking for something just like it one day, so, I said, "Oh, my God! We have to use this on the show!" So, when this promo came up, I said the costume designer, Dorothy, "Oh, we have to use it for this!" And, we did - and made it our own.
PC: The "W.O.M.A.N." sign seems to be a wink to the "Roxie" sign in CHICAGO, yes?
JLH: Yes! Yes. I love CHICAGO. I actually have that sign in my apartment, though - it's actually from my real apartment.
PC: That's incredible. What are your other favorite movie musicals? Did you see LES MISERABLES yet?
JLH: I did see LES MIZ and I thought it was just incredible. Totally incredible. I love CHICAGO, too. The other one that I really loved was the last HAIRSPRAY - I thought it was really great and the lead girl was really good; everybody in it was.
PC: Nikki Blonsky actually just did this column last week, believe it or not.
JLH: Really?! That's so great! But, yeah, yeah, yeah - I thought she was awesome in it. She's a really, really sweet girl, too. But, yeah, I would definitely say that I am a very big movie musical fan in general and I try to see every one that I possibly can - and Glee every week. Always. They are just my favorite thing to watch.
PC: Have you seen SMASH?
JLH: Yes, I loved the first season and I have the new one on my DVR but I just haven't caught up with it yet - I love the whole cast, though, and I'm sure they're all fantastic in it. I always feel like things with lots of music in them are what I am attracted to most - I just love things like that and I always have.
PC: One of your early film roles was your appearance singing onscreen in SISTER ACT 2, after all - with Marc Shaiman involved, no less!
JLH: Yes! Yes! [Laughs.] Oh, God. He was really there with us and he was there in the recording studio, too - what a great guy!
PC: You can say that again.
JLH: He is so, so talented and it was so much fun to do that. We all had a blast doing SISTER ACT. I have a lot of fun memories.
PC: So, what about a musical moment for you on THE CLIENT LIST sometime soon?
JLH: Well, I will say that we definitely have more singing and music on the show this year, for sure - I can absolutely say that much! [Laughs.]
PC: Any hints?
JLH: Well, I guess I can say that this season we find out that Riley's dream before she was a mother was to be a singer. So, there is a little opportunity for her on the show this year where she may meet a record executive through one of her clients and be able to sing for him. You'll see what happens! Riley also sings her kids to sleep a lot this year, in a few different episodes. We also have her reprise a couple of numbers from her high school days and stuff like that, so that will be fun to see, I think.
PC: A high school flashback perhaps?
JLH: Yep! You got it - a few, actually. It's super-fun to do those.
PC: Period filming is always fun, whatever the era - especially the styling!
JLH: Oh, yeah, always - and especially that part! [Laughs.]
PC: How did you originally approach adapting THE CLIENT LIST, first with the TV movie and then with the series itself?
JLH: Well, we originally developed The Client List along with Lifetime as a TV movie - my manager and I became partners on the project. Then, we brought in Howard Braunstein on the project and produced it along with Lifetime. After the movie was a big hit, I got nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress and I remember sitting there on the night at the ceremony and thinking, "Oh, my God! How did a woman who gives happy ending massages end up at the Golden Globes?!" It was just shocking to me! [Big Laugh.]
PC: It's a long journey from one to the other, for sure!
JLH: Yeah, but that's really where the idea for the series started. I thought, "There's really something here that people respond to." I mean, I can't tell you how many people came up to me throughout the night and said, "Oh, my God, we love the movie! We can't believe how great we thought it was! Wow!" And, you know, they were influential, big people who were saying it. So, I thought, "There's something here." And, then, the next day, my manager and I discussed it and we decided, "Yeah, this should be a TV series," so we went in and pitched it to Lifetime.
PC: Were they immediately receptive?
JLH: Oh, yeah. They loved it. I mean, here we are on Episode 12 in Season Two, so it all worked out pretty well!
PC: Do you have a certain sense of accomplishment having spearheaded the project from TV movie to hit series like you have?
JLH: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. The Client List is my baby. I always tell people, "It took nine months to put this project together because it is my baby." And, it really did take that long! [Laughs.]
PC: A great analogy to be able to use.
JLH: It's true, though! I take so much pride in it - I really do. It's awesome in Hollywood, especially at 34, to be able to start a new TV series and have it be received so well and be so successful. I feel lucky - really lucky.
PC: So many actors of your generation never made the leap - it's a credit to your work ethic that you've made it work, more than once.
JLH: Aww, that's so sweet - thank you for saying that, Pat.
PC: While this year's "I'm A Woman" promo is spectacular, last year's "Big Spender" (from SWEET CHARITY) was thrilling, too. How did that music video promo come about?
JLH: The concept for "Big Spender" was actually based on a dream that I had...
PC: No way!
JLH: Yeah! It was crazy - this crazy dream. I kept trying to think of what we could do and how best we could promote the show - especially since it was the first season and everything. So, one night I had this crazy dream - a lot like the video we ended up with - and the second I woke up, I wrote down everything I could remember on a snatch of paper and I brought it in and we worked with Matthew Rolston on making it a reality.
PC: How did you happen to involve him in the process?
JLH: Oh, I knew Matthew from a cover that he shot of me for Rolling Stone when I was 21 - I just loved working with him then and the shot turned out really great. We had stayed friends over the years and I think what he does with women is just incredible - totally incredible. As a person he is amazing, as well. So, in the case of both promos, actually, we brought the concept to Matthew and then he took my little ideas and made them much bigger ideas and that's how we sort of put it all together.
PC: How were the two shoots different for you?
JLH: Well, the first year was mostly in-house with Matthew and I mostly doing everything, but this year we were lucky enough to get Randy Jackson to come in to produce "I'm A Woman". So, Matthew directed the video again this year and is responsible for the whole concept of it and everything. It's even more exciting this year, I think, and the track turned out great, too.
PC: How did the idea of filming music video promos for THE CLIENT LIST come about - specifically, utilizing those two famous Broadway songs?
JLH: Well, obviously, I am a big fan of Broadway and musicals, so I personally just loved those songs on their own and I thought they both fit just perfectly with this show and what it's about - both of them are really empowering, sexy songs. They both fit the storyline for the show and are a lot of fun to show off with and do something great with because they are so great themselves. The first one we did, "Big Spender", was meant to be more literal, of course - all about the spa on the show; I imagined the girls saying "Hey, big spender," to the guys as they came into the spa. The second one, "I'm A Woman", was really sort of about saying that Riley has now come into her own and it's not so much about the men this year, it's about being a woman and feeling good about wherever you are finding yourself and finding the most empowering way to deal with every moment of every day and being the best you can be. So, they were both songs that people ended up really responding to, and, hey, it gave me a chance to sing and dance, so anytime I get that opportunity I take it - it's not something I always have a forum for, you know, so it was great!
PC: You nail the choreography in "I'm A Woman", as well. Was that a thrill to do live?
JLH: Oh, thank you. Yes, it was so much fun. We had someone work on it who is responsible for this amazing, amazing show out here in LA called HARLOW GOLD, which is a burlesque show.
PC: How interesting.
JLH: Yeah, I had done a lot of research about burlesque prior to the show and I visited a lot of burlesque clubs and stuff to research this, too.
PC: Why so?
JLH: Well, I found that burlesque was something I really responded to - you know, especially being a girl with a butt and hips and a waist and boobs; that really feminine, curvy shape. Burlesque dancing, to me, is the best dance form to accentuate all of that. So, it's funny you asked me about the beading on that one costume in the video because that was something we really wanted to incorporate so that it would accentuate the curves and the movement - really show the midriff and the muscles in the curve of the stomach and everything. They just did a beautiful job in styling it.
PC: What did you do for burlesque research in particular?
JLH: Oh, we went to a lot of burlesque clubs and checked out a lot of burlesque shows - which was hysterical! Especially because I went to a few of them with Randy, so people were whispering to each other, you know, "What the heck are Randy Jackson and Jennifer Love Hewitt doing watching a burlesque show together?" And, I guess they sort of had a point! [Laughs.]
PC: It must have been unexpected to come across, to say the least!
JLH: For sure. So, we checked out a bunch of clubs and the one I really responded to was the HARLOW GOLD show - which is just insane! They had women in that show that were so sexy and so empowered and so amazing, so we got a lot of them to come in and choreograph it with us.
PC: Are you a fan of the film of BURLESQUE? The lighting is unbelievable in that and some moments are slightly evocative of it in your "I'm A Woman" video, I thought.
JLH: Oh, yeah, that lighting was amazing - it was totally amazing! I am sure we were inspired a little bit by that for this, too - you'd probably have to ask Matthew about the specifics, though. You know, honestly, I just think that all great art is inspired by other great art, so I am sure there is a little nod or two to BURLESQUE in there.
PC: Are you a Fosse fan, would you say - especially given "Big Spender"?
JLH: Oh, yeah - totally; totally. [Pause.] I think the Fosse style is really hot.
PC: Would you consider singing some more SWEET CHARITY and taking it to the stage or screen someday? You would be ideal for that part, I think.
JLH: Oh, yeah! That would be so great - I'd love doing that! That's a great idea.
PC: SWEET CHARITY shares some similar plot points to THE CLIENT LIST, as a matter of fact.
JLH: That's right, that's right - they do have some similarities. That could be a lot of fun to do! I like that idea a lot.
PC: What about Lola in DAMN YANKEES? Is it true you auditioned and were in talks for the relatively recently rumored movie remake?
JLH: No, I wasn't involved with that, but I had obviously heard about it like everyone else did. But, I have been in talks for a while to do a few different Broadway things and a few Broadway things that are going to film, too, so I am aware of a lot of that stuff and what is being developed, but I haven't ever gotten too super-close to actually getting cast in anything...
JLH: Yet! That's right - yet!
PC: A lesser-known film of yours with a stellar cast and a fabulous lead performance from you is SHORTCUT TO HAPPINESS. Do you have memories of filming that with Alec Baldwin and company?
JLH: Yes, I do. SHORTCUT TO HAPPINESS was a lot of fun and I actually thought it turned out really well, too - I loved working with Alec as a director. Of course, working with Anthony Hopkins was just insane. And, I mean, who would ever picture me as the Devil?! [Laughs.]
PC: No one. What can you tell me about working with Andy Fickman on the screen version of JEWTOPIA?
JLH: Oh, Andy's great. That was a lot of fun to do, too. We had a really great time on that - it was a really out-there, fun, funny script and we just went for it. It was an honor to be a part of that project and Andy was a joy as a director.
PC: Had you seen the play onstage prior to signing on for the film?
JLH: No, I had not seen the play myself, but I had heard about the play and I knew that Andy wanted to approach the film with really fresh eyes and go off the script a little bit here and there, so it was just a joy to come into it new to the story and the characters like I did. I think it is really funny and really sweet.
PC: Is it true you are working on a new album? Have you visited the studio?
JLH: Well, I am thinking about it right now. I am not officially working on anything at the moment, but I am thinking about maybe playing around with some stuff. Nothing official, but I wouldn't mind doing it again soon.
PC: What are your plans following The Client List wrapping for Season Two in a few weeks?
JLH: Well, I am planning on getting a little rest. Then, I have my own production company, so I am thinking about maybe getting into directing and doing my own feature - a romantic comedy - if I can, over the summer. Hopefully, then I will be back doing Season Three for The Client List after that.
PC: You have directed a few episodes of The Client List already, have you not?
JLH: Yes. I directed the season finale last year and I directed a couple of episodes this year, too. I love directing and I look forward to doing it more in the future.
PC: The Client List - pitched, produced, directed by and starring Jennifer Love Hewitt! That's a lot of hats to wear!
JLH: It definitely is! Especially when you put it like that, Pat! [Laughs.]
PC: The fans are dying to know: what is next for Riley and Kyle this season?
JLH: Well, this season is kind of built around the triangle of Riley and the two brothers - which brother will she choose? So, I can't really answer that too much without giving anything away, but I can tell you that we are challenging Riley and the audience to decide who is best for her. I mean, is it better to keep your vows? One stayed with her; one left. One she made vows to and one she owes nothing to. So, which will be best for her at this point in her life? She has seen so much more of life now and Riley is a much different person now than she used to be - like she was before...
PC: A tricky situation.
JLH: Yeah, so, you know, she may not be able to judge Kyle for some of the things that he has done as much as she would have been able to before considering all the lies she is telling and how much she has changed her life. [Pause.] So, it will be interesting to see what the audience thinks of what we do with it - I can't wait!
PC: That element was a primary difference between the TV movie and the series, right?
JLH: Right. He just left in the series because of his own sort-of breakdown and doesn't know about Riley's job yet, which is a little different from the TV movie where we were in a dire financial situation and she went out and got the job without telling him.
PC: So, is a CLIENT LIST Season Three confirmed yet?
JLH: We are not - although I would love to say that we are! I can tell you that in my mind we are, but that doesn't count! [Laughs.]
PC: If not - or even if so - maybe a Broadway show sometime soon? Please?
JLH: Oh, I would love it - that would be my dream come true.
PC: This was stupendous and I am so happy for your continued success, Jennifer. It's a long way from KIDS INCORPORATED to THE CLIENT LIST!
JLH: It sure is! Thank you so, so, so much for this, Pat. This was so great and I had so much fun talking to you. Bye.
View Jennifer Love Hewitt's "I'm A Woman" music video for THE CLIENT LIST S2 below.
Photo Credit: Lifetime, Hallmark, Disney, etc.