Vanessa Williams Gives ‘Desperate Housewives’ A ‘Shot in the Arm’

by | September 26, 2010 at 12:08 PM | Desperate Housewives, Fall TV Preview 2010, Interviews, Show & Tell, TV News

'Desperate Housewives' (Photo: ABC)

'Desperate Housewives' (Photo: ABC)

“It’s some of the best bitchy dialogue we’ve done on this show.”

That’s the promise from ‘Desperate Housewives‘ creator Marc Cherry, who’s “thrilled as all get-out to have Vanessa Williams joining the cast.”

Williams, 47, joins the show for Season 7, premiering tonight at 9/8c on ABC, as Renee Perry, the glamorous wife of a New York Yankee, “who stirs it up on the block” and gives the show “a shot in the arm.”

During my visit to the ‘Desperate Housewives’ set this summer, the former ‘Ugly Betty‘ villainess told reporters she didn’t have any trouble joining the pack of ‘Desperate’ divas this late in the series’ run: “They’ve been very welcoming, very accommodating … they’re wonderful.” She added, all sets have “a different vibe … you blend in and adapt.”

As for filling the void as the wicked witch of Wisteria [peace out, Edie Britt], Williams says you might see shades of her fashionable ice queen Wilhelmina Slater–but Renee Perry is no knockoff:

“I understand the reason why they want me to play this kind of character, they want a shot in the arm, to bring in a different kind of mix. I hope I bring in the glamour and the out-of-towner girl freshness to Wisteria Lane, but in another shell. The appeal is to, ‘Let’s get someone worldly, and someone who stirs it up on the block’ … but it’s not Betty world.”

Vanessa Williams Rides into Town

And it wouldn’t be Wisteria if she didn’t have a secret lurking in her past, but you’ll have to watch for that, since Williams won’t divulge any more details on her twist, not even the secret location of the drama-ridden town her character’s moving to, which remains a perpetual mystery. “I don’t know where Fairview is … that’s not my secret,” Williams joked.

Other ‘new kids on the block’ have suffered from underdeveloped characters and shaky storylines in previous seasons (ahem, Drea de Matteo or Alfre Woodard’s characters anyone?), but something tells us the addition of Vanessa Williams could be different.

“Yes, some additions have been more successful than others,” Cherry concedes, after also admitting he was “skeptical” about bringing Williams on board, since she was just coming off of a different ABC show (the canceled ‘Ugly Betty’).

“It’s a trick every year,” Cherry explained. “One of the things I’ve learned over the evolution of the show is that a lot of different talents are required to be on ‘Desperate Housewives’–you have to be able to both drama and comedy. The drama you have to have a twinkle in your eye and the comedy as to be rooted in reality.”

But halfway through his first meeting with Williams, “I just fell in love with her,” said Cherry. “And she really just got the tonality of the show–what really struck me was her understanding of what we did here.”

So look for the former Miss America to add a dose of glitz to the skitzy world of suburbia.

Vanessa Williams Talked to Reporters on the 'Desperate Housewivs' Set (Photo: Fancast)

Vanessa Williams Talked to Reporters on the 'Desperate Housewivs' Set (Photo: Fancast)

More Scoop the New Season from My Set Visit to Wisteria Lane:

Williams’ character in a nutshell:
“She’s the wife of a professional athlete, and they’re having marital problems, so she’s a woman who has some money, some glamour, some style … but her background is completely different. And we’re introducing her as Lynette’s best frenemy from college, so she moves in and starts shining a spotlight on some choices Lynette’s made in her life.”

And it’s some of the best bitchy dialogue we’ve done on this show.”

Gaby and Bree’s Friendship Takes a Hit:
“What we start to deal with in the first episode is the ramifications on Gaby’s friendship with Bree, because she finds out something we’ve been holding back for six seasons; she finally finds out that Andrew, Bree’s son, has run over her mother-in-law. And that comes out and starts to affect their friendship in a major way.

And in the second episode, the two families are again put into conflict because there’s another hit-and-run. Oops. Yeah, there’s another accident involving both families.”

EP Bob Daily, on How the Baby Switch Storyline Will Play Out:
“It’s such an explosive, emotional thing. But we finally figured out a really interesting way to do it. We’re honestly going to try to play it for genuine emotion. It’s going to be months…. Everyone is going to find out eventually – we’re not going to pull back from it all. We’re talking about playing it out over the course of six, seven … eight episodes. It’s proving to be a really interesting, rich storyline, so we’re thrilled with it.”

Two New Hunks Makes the ‘Housewives’ Flip on Wisteria Lane

On Season 7 Guest Stars and Cat Fights:

~”Marcia [who plays Bree] will have a new love interest, in the form of Brian Austin Green [of 'Beverly Hills, 90210']. “Bree has an instant physical attraction” to Green’s blue collar repairman character Keith, who will also have a flirtation with Renee (Williams), and before long, they’re both fighting over him!

~”We’ve also got Lainie Kazan coming on board and she’s going to be doing a few episodes for us in Teri Hatcher’s storyline.”

Marc Cherry on Actresses Campaigning to be on the Show:
“I can’t really walk into a party in Beverly Hills without women of a certain age assaulting me for work.”

The New Season of ‘Desperate Housewives’ premieres Sunday, Sept. 26th, at 9 p.m./EST on ABC.

Meet the New B*tch on the Block: Renee Arrives!

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