When Melinda Gordon sees dead people, CBS eyes ratings gold, as Jennifer Love Hewitt's Ghost Whisperer handily wins its time slot, sometimes drawing nearly 3 million more viewers than its Fridays-at-8 predecessor, Joan of Arcadia. As such, the net gave the freshman drama a ghost of a chance, ordering posthaste a full season. What led America to "catch the spirit," so to speak? TVGuide.com invited Love to whisper sweet nothings — or, at least, the answers to our questions — in our ear.
TVGuide.com: How delighted are you with Ghost Whisperer's reception? Some critics scoffed at its prospects early on.
Jennifer Love Hewitt: We're more than delighted. I know everybody on the show feels really lucky and I definitely feel like, I don't know, there's an angel watching over me at the moment. [Laughs] There's no one perfect word for how it all feels, but it's awesome.
TVGuide.com: "Awesome" works. Why do you think the show has resonated with people?
Hewitt: I think it's a really fun show to watch because of the scare factor and because there are all these surprises and ghosts — things like that have always been intriguing to people. But I also think that, real simply, it's a show that's about hope, and everybody in their lives, whether they're dealing with someone who's passed away or not, has always wanted one last moment to say one more thing to somebody that they loved or cared about. We offer the opportunity to see people do that every week. Melinda gives people closure in that way, and that's what we all dream for.
TVGuide.com: Melinda won't take money for her "services," so how is her always-empty antiques store staying in business?
Hewitt: How are we staying in business? Barely. [Laughs] We're actually getting ready to do an episode where a lot of money starts to come into the store. And, you know, the business is still going on even when Melinda is off dealing with ghosts; Andrea is obviously there handling customers and everything like that. So even though it appears we don't have that much business, we actually do and are staying afloat pretty well.
TVGuide.com: I want you to know this next question comes from a female coworker, so you don't think I'm just "being a guy": Does it bother you that the producers keep putting you in skimpy outfits and have you wandering around in bras?
Hewitt: No. I think that a huge part of the entertainment industry — and a huge part of life in general — is that people like "eye candy," so I think it's actually fine, it doesn't bother me. I think it's been done really tastefully and it's never overt in my opinion. It's never meant to distract from what's actually going on.
TVGuide.com: Still, you'll draw the line at an episode where Melinda goes undercover as a bikini model to give a dead photographer some peace.
Hewitt: [Laughs] Yeah, I don't know if that is something we would go for. But [the wardrobe styling] is meant to remind people that she is just a normal young person in a new, very sexy and great marriage, that there are other things in life besides ghost-busting and antiques-store owning.
TVGuide.com: Can we expect to see Christine Baranski return as Melinda's mom-in-law?
Hewitt: Yes, she's in an episode [airing Nov. 18] that we just filmed, so she's definitely coming back.
TVGuide.com: What can you tease for November sweeps?
Hewitt: We have a really scary ghost that's going to take over someone on the show, which is really cool; it will kind of change that character a little bit. And then we also deal with "white noise" — I have an entire ghost who for an episode I can't really figure out what she's saying, so I get to puzzle-solve a bit. It's our first ghost who isn't solid, so that should be interesting.
TVGuide.com: Listen to you with the lingo — "It's our first ghost who isn't solid."
Hewitt: Yeah, I know all about them!
TVGuide.com: Do you scare easily?
Hewitt: I do, I'm scared of everything. When we shoot stuff at night or in dark hallways I definitely get freaked!
TVGuide.com: Do you think Melinda will ever make contact with the show Joan of Arcadia?
Hewitt: [Laughs] Oh... no. I don't think so.
TVGuide.com: You were invited to succeed Shannen Doherty on Charmed. Why didn't you?
Hewitt: It just wasn't the right thing. They were lovely people and I was really honored to be asked and I actually really like the show, but it just wasn't the right time.
TVGuide.com: Fact or fiction: Rumor has it you were the inspiration for ex-boyfriend John Mayer's song "Your Body Is a Wonderland"?
Hewitt: Fiction. My body is not a wonderland, but thank you for the thought.
TVGuide.com: What else are you up to these days?
Hewitt: I'm finishing Garfield 2 next weekend and that's it, really. I'm just working hard on the show. Now that we've been picked up for the back nine, we're going until April, and then I'll figure out what I'm doing on the hiatus.
TVGuide.com: How about a sequel called "I'm Serious, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer"?
Hewitt: [Laughs] I don't think I'm going to do any more of the I Know What You Did movies. People keep telling me they're making a third one, but I haven't heard anything about that.
TVGuide.com: And you'll leave it at that.