Last week, The Hollywood Reporter posted a thorough (if not-so-surprising) piece on the antics of Katherine Heigl and her momager, Nancy. Click here a refresher. Difficult, abrasive, and her own worst enemy – that pretty much sums up Katherine’s reputation. And worst of all, not bankable. It’s ok to be difficult and abrasive and your own worst enemy if your movies are a hit. Katherine’s movies are not a hit, and haven’t been for a long, long time.
My favourite part of this: “I have never experienced anything like Nancy Heigl.” Seriously, how scary is her mom? And why does Katherine insist on having her on set? Don’t they get enough bonding time at lunch? Nancy is her manager, not her vocal coach or makeup person. Katherine is choosing to bring Nancy to set out of want, not need. Nancy is her… problem solver (Katherine’s problems include nothing to eat at craft services and poor wardrobe choices, apparently). In Team Heigl’s mind, Nancy is probably protecting Katherine on set and shielding her from being the “bad guy.” But instead of Nancy’s behavior being an asset to her daughter’s working relationships, it has spawned off into a mother/daughter nightmare reputation.
Soon after the story hit, Katherine released an effusive statement about her new CIA pilot being picked up by NBC. It is positive and full of praise for others, like this: “NBC has been a true partner in their passion and support for the show that we've dreamed of making and I could not be happier about joining forces with them. Together, with our brilliant writer Alexi Hawley, I believe we are going to make great television!” (The exclamation point is hers. Read the full statement on her official website here).
The subtext couldn’t be more clear: I am an absolute joy to work with and I love TV writers! (Except that one season of Grey’s Anatomy when I totally hated the writing.)
She also talks about how exciting and original this concept is: a CIA agent who advises the president and has a messy private life. Again, as Lainey keeps saying, it’s Homeland meets Scandal. But Katherine insists this is a fresh look behind the curtain of the CIA we haven’t seen before – interesting that at this point in her career, Katherine is so concerned with originality. Until now, her taste hasn’t been all that original: an ensemble medical drama followed up by a lot of rom-coms. For someone who claims to not want to be America’s Sweetheart, she certainly tried to follow the formula.
But one statement doesn’t erase years of being a sh-thead – and making your mom an executive producer on your new show is definitely not about the work. It’s about Katherine being in control and making sure the show is about her, and everyone knows it and acts accordingly.
Lainey posited last month that going back to TV is the right move for her – but TV has changed since Grey’s Anatomy. There’s a lot of talent (and movie stars) doing great television. TV doesn’t need Katherine Heigl, and she certainly isn’t above it. But the minute the audience or the critics sense that she feels way, we can all go back to watching Homeland and Scandal and House of Cards and Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire… you get the idea.
It’s a truth many of them don’t want to accept, but not everyone can be a movie star. Heigl thought she was Clooney, but maybe she’s Julianna Margulies. And that’s not a knock whatsoever. Julianna has had two long-running shows that both critics and audiences enjoy. She’s won a Golden Globe and an Emmy (and 8 Screen Actors Guild Awards!), and is moving into a producer role on The Good Wife.
Katherine too can have a very long and fruitful career on television, with more creative control than she would ever have as a film actress, if she let go of the entitlement (and maybe left her mom at home). But if the show is hit, how long until Katherine starts complaining and asking for time off to do films? A bitch gene like that doesn’t stay dormant for long.