BWWTVWorld Exclusive: Reba McEntire Chats New ABC Series MALIBU COUNTRY

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One of the most successful entertainers, Reba McEntire has sold over 56 million albums worldwide. As a leading lady in her genre, the multi-platinum recording artist for The Valory Music Co. has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, earned an ACM Career Achievement honor and was recently inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. She has also won 15 American Music Awards, 13 ACM Awards, nine People's Choice Awards, six CMA Awards and two Grammy Awards, in addition to hosting the ACM Awards 14 times.

The Oklahoma native is also an acclaimed film, TV and Broadway actress. On television she starred for six seasons in the hit series "Reba," as well as the television movies such as "The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw," opposite Kenny Rogers and "The Man from Left Field," with Burt Reynolds. On Broadway she starred in the musical "Annie Get Your Gun" and as Ensign Nellie Forbush in the musical "South Pacific," which was filmed and aired as an episode of "Great Performances." On the big screen she starred in such films as "Tremors," "North," "The Little Rascals" and "One Night at McCools."

Reba returns to network television in the new ABC comedy series, MALIBU COUNTRY, premiering FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2 (8:31-9:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. The country music superstar spoke to BWWTVWorld the day after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast and expressed her concerns right off the bat.

How's everything there? I've got so many friends in New York that I've been praying for as many times as I can a day.

It was tough going for a while, but we'll get by. And on a much more positive note, we are really looking forward to your new series Malibu Country. Can you tell us about your character on the show?

My character is Reba Gallagher. I am a country singer, married to a country singer who is a little more popular than I am because after a couple of albums, I had decided to kind of back off the music business and the touring to raise my children. And so I come to find out that he's been cheating on me with his back-up singer. I file for divorce and find out during the divorce proceedings that he has bought a Malibu party pad so I take my kids out there. We take over that house and that way I can get my kids away from all the gossip in Nashville and also I can restart my music career.

Will there be much opportunity for you to perform your own music in the series?

Yeah, matter of fact, that's one of the fun parts about getting to do this sitcom. I am incorporating music, being a country singer, along with the acting and the storyline. And we have one song that's already in the pilot that Dave Stewart, who wrote the concept for Malibu Country, and myself and Narvel Blackstock, my husband and manager, we co-wrote, and that's called "The New Me.' And then in another episode we do the theme song, that's called 'Goodbye Looks Good On Me.' And also I'll be doing "Goodbye Looks Good On Me' on Good Morning America on Thursday morning, the day of the CMA Awards Show.

Do you anticipate having guest appearances by some of your musical friends?

Oh absolutely. We've already gotten Travie McCoy in on one and I've already asked Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson. Martina McBride said she'd love to do the show, so yeah. But what we're trying to do first is find everybody's voice of our main characters, get everybody settled in and then start bringing in our guest stars. I think that would be so much fun.

It sounds great! How has it been working with the legendary Lily Tomlin?

It's been a blast. I love Lily. I've known her for about ten years. I've gone to see her in her one-woman play, she saw me on Broadway doing 'Annie Get Your Gun.' We're friends, and I'm just such a huge admirer of her and for her to say yes to do this show was just a dream come true for me.

Speaking of Broadway, I wanted to ask you about your experience starring in 'Annie Get Your Gun.'

Well it's totally different from acting in front of a camera. You've got the same script every night that you're working. And you really hone in on the character and try to find deeper and more meaningful ways to express your character. I absolutely loved doing Broadway, not only because of the great script and the music of the show, and I've always been a huge fan of Annie Oakley, but I love the people in theater, I love the theater community. I love living in New York. It's just an excitement and energy that you just can't feel anywhere else. I absolutely love everything about it.

Do you have a preference for live theater or TV and film?

Well I'm very, very blessed that I get to do all of it. I do television during the week and then I do my concerts on the weekends.

So you have the best of both worlds.

Absolutely!

I wanted to get your opinion on all the current singing competitions on TV. Do you think they are a legitimate way to find new talent?

I think it's a wonderful way to find new talent. I think it's a wonderful way for the artist and entertainers to get on television and burst right onto the scene. Even the ones who don't make it past the second or third level, the people who see them on television get them a really great start. It is so hard to get into the business. It's just almost impossible. There are so few they take and accept and sign up to a record level. It is so hard. So this is great, for all the record people, the people in the business to sit and see what is out there.

Any chance we might be seeing you back on the Broadway stage in the future?

I would love to. Of course I want this television show to run for ten years, and when that happens, and we run our gamut, then I would love to come back to Broadway if they would have me.

We would all love to see that. Best of luck with Malibu Country.

Thank you and good luck to everyone there in New Jersey and New York. I'll be praying for you!

MALIBU COUNTRY premieres FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2 (8:31-9:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. In the premiere episode, "Pilot," Reba very publicly discovers that her country music legend husband, Bobby Gallagher, has been cheating on her. Determined to get a fresh start and perhaps revive her own country music career, Reba packs up her sharp-tongued mother and two kids and drives cross country to live in Bobby's Malibu beach-front party pad.

Once there, gregarious and over-sharing neighbor Kim immediately reaches out with an offer to mentor Reba as she adjusts to Southern California. With a new home and a much more liberal west coast set of rules, Reba, her kids and mom welcome the change, but soon realize that the open-mindedness of Southern California goes much farther than they'd expected. When Reba finds that trying to get her foot back in the music business is going to be an uphill battle, she befriends Geoffrey, the assistant to her record label's president -- who never seems to be in the office. Though overwhelmed and feeling out of place, Reba realizes that, all in all, family is what matters most, and they must learn to view their new Malibu lifestyle as a chance for a new beginning.

"Malibu Country" stars country music superstar Reba as Reba, Lily Tomlin as Lillie Mae, Sara Rue as Kim, Justin Prentice as Cash, Juliette Angelo as June and Jai Rodriguez as Geoffrey.

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Caryn Robbins Caryn Robbins is a Senior Editor and daily contributor to BroadwayWorld, and manages the TV, Film and Music spin-off sites. Her original musical comedy DEAR PROSPECTIVE STUDENT (follow @DearStudent) has been staged in two NYC theater festivals and was performed as an Equity Staged Reading in New York City in 2015. This June, DEAR PROSPECTIVE STUDENT won 'Best Ensemble Show' in Chicago's Premier Premieres Festival. Follow Caryn on Twitter @CarynRobbins
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