It pains me to report this, folks, but Lynda Carter is up to no good, so much that her misdeeds will unspool on not one but two NBC procedurals. On Tuesday at 10 pm/ET, she guest-stars with Estella Warren on Law & Order: SVU, as a mother-daughter grifting team. After the dubious duo elude Benson and Stabler, they resurface the following night on Law & Order (base brand). TVGuide.com needed no golden lasso to make Carter come clean about her yen to be bad, a few of Wonder Woman's secrets and a bit of Battle of the Network Stars gossip.
TVGuide.com: I'm so excited to talk to you! I used to watch Wonder Woman. Boy, those were the days.
Lynda Carter: Those were the days. But it's on DVD now, so...
TVGuide.com: How did you come to be a bad guy on the L&Os?
Carter: A year ago I was finishing up The Dukes of Hazzard when I got a call from [L&O executive producer] Neil Baer, who asked me if I was interested in doing this part. I loved it because I got to play a baaaad guyyyy, which is not usually the way that I'm cast.
TVGuide.com: You're usually the loving mother, dutiful wife....
Carter: ... or saving someone from toxic waste or something. [Laughs] But here I'm playing a grifter with a daughter, and in order for it to be a crossover [appearance], we get away [on SVU]. Then they come upon us [on L&O]. The [SVU portion] was supposed to air last year, but they liked it and wanted to hold it so they could do a double episode. It was a lot of fun. I know Estella quite well; she's a delight to be with.
TVGuide.com: Who was more flattered, Estella to be cast as your daughter, or you to play her mom?
Carter: [Laughs] What a question! Well, she must have taken after my husband, that's all I can say. She is gorgeous and sweet and talented — and tall, which is good.
TVGuide.com: You ladies really tempt fate by trying to outsmart two L&O teams.
Carter: There is a lot of double dealing. I love those kind of shows where you have to figure things out — who really did it, who's really at fault — which L&O is great at. And working with Sam [Waterston], Dennis Farina and Jesse [L. Martin]... they were all great. It reminded me, watching these people who have been on the same show for so long, what it was like to do episodic television.
TVGuide.com: Would you be open to a steady TV gig?
Carter: It all depends. My kids are old enough now where I would definitely be open to that, and before I wasn't. Being on a show with good writers is wonderful, because when they are interested in long-term arcs of characters, that's when you have a lot of fun.
TVGuide.com: What's the deal, did they think we wouldn't notice the change when Wonder Woman's setting magically shifted from the World War II era to present day (aka the '70s)?
Carter: [Laughs] You know what it was? [The series] changed networks, and networks have got to do their own thing. The way [for CBS] to do it new and different, as opposed to the same old ABC show, was to update it.
TVGuide.com: How did she remember where she parked the invisible plane? And how good is an invisible plane when we can see Wonder Woman sitting in it?
Carter: Right! And when the seat they put in it looks like it came out of a Greyhound bus — I think it was maroon or something.
TVGuide.com: You once mentioned Catherine Zeta-Jones as your pick to play a big-screen Wonder Woman; any new favorites?
Carter: [I said] a person like Catherine. I don't think she's necessarily right. It needs a young, nonfamous person who has got vulnerability, a high factor of likability and a little self-deprecation. One of the things I worked the hardest at when I was preparing to do Wonder Woman was I wanted women to like her. She's wearing practically nothing, she's pretty and she's thin, so you hate her! I really wanted people to understand that if your boyfriend is watching with you, Wonder Woman would be the first one to crack him upside the head and say, "Get a grip!" I wanted her not to take herself so seriously — not "Look at me, I'm Wonder Woman!" but "This is just me." Like having blue eyes.
TVGuide.com: What would you have changed about your take on her?
Carter: The only thing I would have changed, particularly for the time, was [to deliver] more of a feminist message.
TVGuide.com: "Don't ask Diana to get your coffee, Colonel Trevor."
Carter: Right. We had [a feminist vibe] in the pilot, but the networks were terrified of offending anyone, because that's when it was all happening, so I just communicated it in other ways.
TVGuide.com: What's your most vivid memory of the original Battle of the Network Stars?
Carter: Oh, my god! They did several [versions] after the first one, and now they've done it again [with Reality Stars, on Bravo]. I think it worked the first time; I'm not sure about the [others]. One of my most favorite things was watching Farrah [Fawcett] do her hair backstage. All the rest of us looked crappy, but she looked perfect! Actually, that's just a joke. My favorite memory came at the end: Howard Cosell was the moderator and, after we won the last event, the tug-o-war, I dumped champagne on his head — unaware that he wore a toupee! He was not a happy camper.
TVGuide.com: I'm sorry, but you must have been legally blind at the time to not notice his toupee.
Carter: I know. [Laughs] I just didn't pay any attention to it!