Like the show's titular character, Drop Dead Diva is coming back to life!
After being canceled in January, the Lifetime series will return for a fifth season Sunday at 9/8c, picking up shortly after Jane Bingum (Brooke Elliot) kissed former love Grayson (Jackson Hurst) at her wedding to Owen (Lex Medlin). Oops! Meanwhile, Old Jane pushed the return button, sending her back to Earth. But whose body will she end up in? TVGuide.com spoke with executive producer Josh Berman to get the scoop on the new season:
What was the fight like to get the show back on the air?
Josh Berman: It's funny you ask that because for me, I just went into a depression and a funk and then the fans lifted my spirits with their insanely amazing social media campaign to save the show. Within days, there were petitions with tens of thousands of signatures demanding the show be brought back. I had never experienced anything like that. I've written and produced such usually popular shows like CSI and Bones, but the hardcore fans of Diva are just amazing. They really saved the show. We never trended on Twitter during our full four-year run, but once we were canceled, we trended off and on for two weeks. That was such a testament to the fans.
How will the show be different after coming back from cancellation?
Berman: I don't think people will see anything other than a show that's probably better than it has ever been. I can say that because we are lucky that the show, when it did get the budget cuts, that it happened after Season 4. We invested so much in our infrastructure during Seasons 3 and 4 that we didn't have any big capital expenses for this season. We're one of the few shows that actually bought our own editing equipment. We upgraded the sets, we built a back lot, so all the money you normally spend on a show had already (been?) spent, so it was the perfect time to trim our budget a bit. The flip side of that is that our actors and crew are so excited to be back that everyone is giving 110 percent. No one is slumming it in a season where you get a second chance. We want to reward the fans and we really want a Season 6. Lex Medlin is a series regular now, and obviously Josh Stamberg left, but that was a natural evolution for a show like this. We have the same number of series regulars from the beginning.
What can you tell us about how Stamberg's exit affects the future of Parker, Kim and their unborn child?
Berman: As a writer, it's a really exciting time to write for Kim Kaswell (Kate Levering). Most storylines about a woman abandoned by a man that you've seen on TV are generally about a woman in her early twenties who is trying to figure out what she wants in life and the repercussions of the guy leaving. In this case, we have a professional woman who is a partner in the firm, in her mid-thirties with an unexpected pregnancy. She got her hopes up that she has found a man that will marry her only to have them dashed and now she's with a baby she never thought she wanted. We are not shying away from any of that messiness.
Old Jane is back on Earth! What can you tease for her and Jane finally coming face-to-face?
Berman: It's an epic meeting of body and brains in Jane and Old Jane. Watching these two interact is so funny and so heartbreaking. At the same time, they have to figure out if they can even get along with each other. We have Old Jane in another person's body and she wants her life back, and Jane now has to convince her that she needs to move on with her new life just like Jane/Deb moved on with her life. It's a real fun romp. It's probably my favorite episode that I've written of the whole series. It's the episode that had we been canceled, I never would've gotten to tell.
What are we going to see for Jane in the immediate aftermath of Owen having a heart attack after seeing her kiss Grayson?
Berman: Jane feels terrible about kissing Grayson. Even though her heart might have lept, the better side of Jane knows it was wrong. You can't commit to a man and then kiss somebody else at your wedding! She feels horrible. She feels that she is now a bad person. How can she ever make it up to Owen, the man she saw a future with? She's truly in the depths of her soul now, torn between these two men in a way that she could've never predicted. She thought she put away her feelings for Grayson. She knows she's in love with Owen, but with that kiss, her feelings for Grayson have reawakened, so she now has longings for two very different men and she's not sure what direction to take.
Vanessa, Grayson's ex, will be returning this season. Will that be another wrench thrown in there?
Berman: In real life, Jaime Ray Newman is pregnant. She is due the same week that Kate Levering is due in real life. We are bringing these two women together to go against each other in court. They are both seven months pregnant at the time. By the time the episode airs, they will both have given birth. Grayson no longer has feelings for that woman, but we're bringing her back mainly as a counterpart to Kim. While Kim is single and not really thrilled about being pregnant, Vanessa is now married and quite happy being pregnant. We're showing two very different approaches to pregnancy.
Do you see Grayson and Jane as being the end game of the series?
Berman: I think that either option is equally realistic, but we definitely move into a real direction this season.
What's in store for Stacy and the pakery this season?
Berman: This is a big season for Stacy (April Bowlby). In Episode 3, Barbara Corcoran from Shark Tank plays herself and makes an offer for the pakery. Stacy has to decide whether or not she's going to sell the pakery. That causes her to do a lot of self-reflection. She makes a big decision out of what she wants in life and that decision will reverberate throughout the season.
Tell us about the new guardian angel played by Justin Deeley.
Berman: Justin Deeley is amazing, first of all. But the idea behind that was that I wanted to create an angel who is a male version of Deb: a guy that's gorgeous, but superficial. He wanders through life given things, but never understands where they come from. In Jane's development, I thought what a great counterpoint to create a male version of Deb that would supposedly give Jane advice, but really it's the other way around. What we quickly discovered is that both Justin and Brooke are phenomenal funny and physical comedians.
Drop Dead Diva returns Sunday at 9/8c on Lifetime.