The Friends star has fought plenty of knife-wielding killers in the Scream franchise, but she’s battling different demons on Shining Vale, debuting March 6 on Starz. Showrunner Jeff Astrof previews the action.

It didn't take much to sell showrunner Jeff Astrof on a series idea from Catastrophe creator Sharon Horgan: The Shining, but as a comedy. Or, to put it another way: "Sharon said, 'I want to do a sitcom that makes people s--- their pants,' " recalls Astrof (Trial & Error, The New Adventures of Old Christine). "So I said, 'A s---com!' And I wanted to do that too because I was just so bored. I've been writing comedy for 28 years. I needed fresh snow." The result: Shining Vale, debuting March 6 on Starz.

When it came time to find the show's leading lady, though, Astrof admits he never thought of Courteney Cox — even though he worked as a writer on the first two seasons of Friends. Luckily, Lisa Kudrow had the script and passed it along to her former costar. "Courteney called me and said, 'This script is the only thing that's ever been written for me,'" says Astrof. "'I want to do it. I have to do it.'"

Shining Vale
Courteney Cox on Starz's 'Shining Vale'
| Credit: Starz

At the center of Shining Vale is Cox's Pat Phelps, a creatively suppressed "lady porn" author who — along with her husband, Terry (Greg Kinnear), and their two teenage kids — ditches Brooklyn for a 200-year-old Victorian mansion in Shining Vale, Conn., in an attempt to save her marriage after she cheats with the handyman. But once there, Pat (a 17-years-sober alcoholic battling depression) starts worrying she may have schizophrenia like her mom — or, the house is haunted by a woman named Rosemary, played by Mira Sorvino.

"Pat can only see Rosemaryin a heightened state," like when Pat is on medications, or when stressed or anxious, says Astrof. "Rosemary is either a figment of Pat's imagination, or her alter ego, or her muse… Or she's a ghost or a demon trying to possess her."

Astrof promises all will be explained in "the last frame" of the season, which is also full of nods to The Shining, of course, but also Rosemary's Baby, The Changeling, and more: "It's painstaking, but it really is a love letter to the genre."

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