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Kristen Johnston: The scoop on her 'Absolutely Fabulous' return to TV

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Kristenjohnston_lAs was reported earlier this week by the Hollywood trades, 3rd Rock From the Sun alum Kristen Johnson is — as she told EW just yesterday — “99.9 percent” locked for the pilot of Fox’s remake of  the British cult hit Absolutely Fabulous. And here’s just a little bit of back-patting for us here at EW: “The funniest thing is, EW is how I found out about Absolutely Fabulous,” she says. Supposedly, Johnston read about the plans for the remake in the pages of our dear little magazine. Score one for us! Because, the general consensus is that she’s perfect for the project. Glad we could help.

But anyway, I had the opportunity to catch up with her earlier this week, and she dished about why she’s getting back into regular TV (provided Fox picks up the pilot, once it’s made) and her role as Patsy. Originally, there was a report that she would be playing the role of boozy fashion publicist Edina, but Revolutionary Road‘s Kathryn Hahn will actually fill that spot, while Johnston will play best friend Patsy. About the casting mix-up, she says, “Have they seen me?” Exactly. She’s no Eddie, but definitely a Patsy.

You might realize that besides a few stints on shows like ER and Sex and the City, Johnston hasn’t really done much TV since her long-running stint as the alien Sally on 3rd Rock From the Sun ended in 2001. But after shooting a guest spot as a neurotic friend to Julia Louis-Dreyfus on CBS’s The New Adventures of Old Christine (which airs Feb. 18), Johnston realized it was time for her return to the small screen. “I hadn’t been on a sitcom set since 3rd Rock, so cable leads and network run-throughs, it was like, what?” she says, referring to shooting Old Christine. “It was the funnest. I thought, “Oh f—, this is where I need to be.” But is she ready for the grind that comes with a weekly series? “Oh yeah, I’m ready,” she adds. “You know what I’m ready for? The money.” Totally blunt and real! That’s the Johnston we all know and love.

More scoop from Johnston, after the jump.

 

addCredit(“Jim Spellman/Getty Images”)

Johnston also revealed more about her character and the script,which has been modified quite a lot (with the help of exec producer andstar-of-the-original Jennifer Saunders) for American audiences. “Ithink they captured the exact amount of sweetie-darling,” she says. “Imean, it’s a totally different element, it’s atotally different show. We don’t smoke, we are hungover all the time,we chew Nicorette, we’re trying to be more PC, but I think it reallyworks. It’s one of those scripts that’s like my favorite kind becauseon paper you’re like, Oh, this is funny, but when you read it outloud with two actresses, it’s, like, the funniest s— ever.”

Of course, I had to bring up a similar Australian-to-American remake from this past season, NBC’s critically derided remake Kath & Kim, that sort of bombed creatively (but inexplicably lives on…) and asked if she’s worried that’ll happen with this beloved series. She says: “Itcould be a stink-bomb, I don’t know. But I would rather go down with agreat effort instead of something that’s like, Oh, this is definitelygonna get picked up. But I think because of this reading, and the whole network was thereand everyone was there and flipped, never have I heard or seen anythinglike it.” And then she adds this fun little tidbit: “I shouldn’t say this to you but, like, literally the head ofthe network” — that’d be Fox’s Kevin Reilly — “hugged us all, left the room, and came back in two minutesand was like, ‘Let’s make the pilot.'” Ah, the power of a television executive.

One one final note on the Johnston front — and just one more reason tolove this woman and her impending comeback — I mentioned that her role in the recently released Bride Wars was the only redeeming thing about the movie. Her response? “Oh God, wasn’t that awful?” She was speaking of the flick as a whole, of course. Couldn’t have said it better myself.