Tea Leoni stars in Madam Secretary, the new CBS drama that has some Hollywood heavyweights behind it. The show has the legendary name of Morgan Freeman attached, but this time he’s behind the scenes as executive producer. It has been a heavily-promoted addition to the CBS Sunday night lineup.
The Daily Beast is not a fan of the show’s premiere, calling it predictable.
“Yes, you may have thought that this was going to be a juicy reimagining of Hillary Clinton’s life as secretary of state, asking the tantalizing question: What would Hillary do? But instead it asks pop culture’s most tired question: Can a working woman have it all?”
The Guardian is kinder, saying Madam Secretary will inevitably be compared to The West Wing and The Good Wife, which it calls “two of the best network shows of the last decade.” That is a high standard to meet, and it may take Madam Secretary some time to hit its stride.
People says the show deserves a shot, in part because of strong performances from Leoni and the show’s supporting cast that includes Keith Carradine, Tim Daly, Zeljko Ivanek, and Bebe Neuwirth, whom audiences will remember from Cheers.
The Beast reviewer Kevin Fallon acknowledges the show runners of Madam Secretary are forthright in saying the show is not based on the life of Hillary Clinton. Following that storyline closely might be ample material for a primetime drama, particularly since Clinton is often named as a potential successor to Barack Obama in the 2016 presidential stakes.
Although the show is not based on Hillary Clinton, producers did meet with one real-life Secretary of State. Madeleine Albright, the first woman to hold the post, chatted with them over lunch. Executive producer Barbara Hall and David Semel, who directed the pilot, said Albright was happy to help with the project. According to Hall, Albright was nothing short of enthusiastic.
“She’s very, very eager to weigh in and help us. She’s very excited about the show, so that was a great moment.”
As The Hollywood Reporter notes, this is Leoni’s first small-screen appearance since the 1990s comedy The Naked Truth. She recently made news for her split from husband David Duchovny. Duchovny came to prominence as the lead actor on The X-Files, a program on which Leoni guest-starred in 2000.
Whether Freeman will make a cameo is still uncertain. The actor told THR he is leaving that up to Hall and how she wants the series to progress. Freeman joked that since one character is a religion professor, and he has some experience playing God, there may be a spot for him in a future episode.
Madam Secretary debuts tonight on CBS.
[Image: Madam Secretary/CBS]