Laura Kightlinger, The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman
knows Hollywood. Over the last 20 years, she has racked up writing and acting credits on shows ranging from Roseanne
to Saturday Night Live
to Will & Grace
. Now her sights are set on spoofing Tinseltown (and her own self-confessed laziness) in IFC’s new series The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman
, premiering tonight at 11 pm/ET. A perfect vehicle for Kightlinger’s brand of dry, irreverent wit, this anti-Entourage
revolves around two best friends navigating the lower levels of the entertainment biz. TVGuide.com spoke with the Jamestown, New York, native about the project and discovered her checkered past of job dismissals.
TVGuide.com: Where did the idea for The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman grow out of?
Laura Kightlinger: It had so many incarnations. There were a few different pilots. I guess I based it on when I first moved to L.A…. I’ve told this story a million times, but one of the first times I shopped around a screenplay — sorry for saying “shopped around” — it got to the second in command at this big studio and he said he loved the script, but he was concerned because it was from a woman’s point of view. It grew out of a lot of situations like that.
TVGuide.com: There are a few lines almost exactly like that in the show.
Kightlinger: There probably are. Everything that’s ever happened to me, I’ve thrown in there.
TVGuide.com: The show centers on Jackie and Tara (Nicholle Tom), who are BFF. Had the two of you worked together before?Kightlinger: No. She’s just fantastic. Ever Carradine was in one of the initial pilots, but she became a big star on Commander in Chief, so we had to audition new people and they wanted to get a beautiful blonde like Ever. We saw a lot of talented women, but Nicholle stood out. She was funny and vulnerable without being too sarcastic and bitchy, because I’ve got that cornered. We just hit it off, and I guess that was just good luck.
TVGuide.com: Were any of the characters in the series inspired by real people you’ve met while working in Hollywood?
Kightlinger: Yes. I know for sure the character of Bobby P., who’s played by Jeremy Kramer, was inspired by this time I was out with my ex-boyfriend Jack Black. People would fall all over themselves to meet him. So we were out having dinner and this semi-big director came over and introduced himself with his credits. But his big credit was a sequel to something. So now the character of Bobby P. says, “Hi, I’m Bobby P., 'Cat Demon II.'”
TVGuide.com: Was it difficult producing, writing and starring in Jackie Woodman, while also being a series regular on Lucky Louie?
Kightlinger: No, not really. The schedule for Jackie Woodman started like a week after Lucky Louie, so it worked out pretty well.
TVGuide.com: HBO constantly runs the Lucky Louie clip of you slapping a ham and talking dirty to it. How do feel about that being used as a marketing tool?
Kightlinger: I think it’s kind of funny. I’m never noticed or recognized, but a week after that came out I was in a supermarket and a guy yells out, “Hey, you were spanking the meat!”
TVGuide.com: Sounds like you’ve got a fan. Did you re-enact the scene for him?
Kightlinger: No, I did not, but I was a bit embarrassed. He recognized me from the show, but the people around who didn’t must have thought something filthy was going on.
TVGuide.com: You were a writer and producer for Will & Grace. Do you ever miss it?
Kightlinger: I do miss it. It really was the best job I’ve ever had. It was also the longest job I’ve ever had — seven years. Every job I had up to that point I was fired from, so I was very thankful to be there.
TVGuide.com: What were some of your more interesting firings?
Kightlinger: Well, my very first job was at Ponderosa Steakhouse. I got fired from that, and all I had to do was take buns out of the oven and put them on a plate. But on all-you-can-eat nights, it just got too crazy trying to feed everybody.
T Guide.com: So you couldn’t put buns on plates fast enough?Kightlinger: I don’t know. I was just uncoordinated and it was more pressure than I could handle.
TVGuide.com: Were you ever fired from any show business jobs?
Kightlinger: I got fired from my first acting job. Roseanne and Tom [Arnold] were sweet enough to bring me out from New York to L.A. Tom had this new sitcom where I was to play his wife, and we had four kids and lived in a trailer. At the time, I was 23 and they had seen me do stand-up on Comedy Central. So the director gave me a lot of activities, because he was worried about me not being able to act and look like a mom of four. One of the things he asked me to do was check the roast, but I had never cooked before. In fact, I used to store my shoes in the oven in New York. So when he asked me to check the roast, I had no idea what to do. I said, “It looks good” and he yells, “Get a fork and check the roast!” So I got fired from that. Luckily, they were nice enough to give me a job writing for Roseanne after that.
TV Guide.com: Speaking of writing, your book Quick Shots of False Hope is being adapted for a feature film. I came across an interesting review from a Donna Croughen from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She wrote, “Great book! A seminal work by a first-time author. Plus, I loved Laura in Mulholland Drive, but she needs to know that she doesn't have to take her shirt off if she wants to get movie parts.” Considering you weren’t in Mulholland Drive, what is your response to that evaluation?
Kightlinger: God bless Donna in Chapel Hill! She thinks I’m Laura Elena Harring. On a good day, I guess I can look like her. But I like the first part of Donna’s evaluation and I actually do have my shirt off whenever I’m writing. So it’s kind of the same thing.