Tags: Tea Leoni | Madam Secretary | CBS-TV

Producers: CBS's 'Madam Secretary' Is No Clinton Biopic

By    |   Monday, 15 September 2014 09:02 AM

A new CBS political drama, "Madam Secretary," may be about a female secretary of state, but the show's producers insist she's no Hillary Clinton.

The new show will premiere on Sept. 21 at 8 p.m., and stars Tea Leoni as the fictional Elizabeth McCord, a former CIA analyst asked to become secretary of state after the State Department leader is killed in a plane crash.

And while there is some inspiration from Clinton, the shows producers told Politico they actually looked more to New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for the drama of a character juggling work and family life.

Actor Morgan Freeman, who is executive producer of the show along with Lori McCreary, said that the show is about "empowerment."

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"How do you empower women?" Freeman said. "Hire them. Put them place where they’ve got some say so and watch sparks fly.”

Gillibrand and the fictional McCord both have two young children, and the show's writer and creator, Barbara Hall, said the thinking behind the character was "how do you deal with the president of the United States in the morning and the president of the PTA in the evening?"

But actor Tim Daly, playing Leoni's husband on the show, pointed out that its primary purpose is to entertain viewers.

"We're not making a documentary about Hillary Clinton, we’re not trying to support her supposed run for presidency," he said. "This is a story about a woman who is trying to do her job, and her is husband trying to do his job, their family."

Hall said she also spoke to former Secretary Madeleine Albright, and read writings by Condoleezza Rice and Clinton for research.

She said she does not mind the comparisons to Clinton, but believes that the show makes it clear that it is not about the former first lady.

Hall says she also met with Washington policy advisers, speechwriters and other insiders for research.

Daly, who is active politically with the nonpartisan group The Creative Coalition, said he has a long line of family and friends in politics and powerful positions to look toward while preparing for his part, including an uncle in the FBI and a grandmother in the CIA, and an aunt who was at one time one of the highest-ranking women in the Air Force.

McCreary said that the show is set apart from others like "House of Cards" because "we would like to portray politicians as we hope they are and we hope they will be and that will speak to us in a language that we understand and will help us understand what’s really going on."

Further, with Leoni's character, Hall said she wanted to create a "character who was the opposite of a politician."

McCord's CIA experience give her a "hands-on understanding" said Hall, but she still has to learn politics and diplomacy.

The show will likely tackle plenty of real-life news, including the Middle East, NSA surveillance, drone strikes and more, said McCreary.

Viewers can also expect some cameos from Washington figures, and Freeman himself will come out from behind the camera to make an appearance.

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A new CBS political drama, "Madam Secretary," may be about a female secretary of state, but the show's producers insist she's no Hillary Clinton.
Tea Leoni, Madam Secretary, CBS-TV
Monday, 15 September 2014 09:02 AM
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