"It's really different not having any audience at all," says Bergen, best remembered for her long and successful run as TV's Murphy Brown. "I don't really get any feedback. We just stay the course and hope the audience will expand."
Bergen who plays a former beauty pageant contestant in Miss Congeniality (opening Dec. 22) says she spends a lot of time these days conducting exhaustive research on her guests, an eclectic group that has included Diane Keaton, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Madeleine Albright. "Madeleine was a little stressful for me," she admits of the first female secretary of state. "Foreign policy isn't my bailiwick, but we were so thrilled that she gave us an hour. That was an intense crash course on foreign policy."
Now that she's in the interviewer seat, the veteran actress says she's developing a new respect for the many journalists who have grilled her over the years. "Sometimes, you can't avoid asking a stupid question," she says. "It's interesting trying to find my footing.
"We've had guests so interesting that we've followed them out to the parking lot and into their car," Bergen continues. "Then there are other times when I'm thinking, 'I've got 20 more minutes with her?! Oh my God!' And you've gone through all your questions and you don't know what you're going to talk to them about!"