As they tweak scenes for the pilot, Markus and Chenoweth
sometimes act them out. In one, Kristin's boss, the full time tycoon
and part time Casanova Tommy Ballantine, interviews Kristin for
the job as his personal assistant.
He dictates a list of chores: "First, call my veterinarian. Tell
him the flea dip didn't take. My cat is still infested, only now
he smells like dry cleaning. I want my cat picked up, re-dipped,
de-Martinized, and returned at his expense." Chenoweth's forehead
wrinkles in concentration as she mimes writing on a notepad. "Fix
cat," she says. "Oops! I mean, fix cat problem. Whoa. Better add
that last word! Like the difference between lightning and lightning
bug!" Chenoweth puts a little spin on the word "bug" that makes
Markus light up.
All games are best when they are tense, and Markus
has set up a shrewdly comic battle of wills between the righteous
Kristin and the sensationally pagan Tommy ("If you're a woman and
you're breathing, you're in Tommyworld"). Markus's innovation is
not so much in the sitcom form as in its content. By making Kristin
the heroine of the show, he brings to center stage the kind of character-
a moral, conservative person-who has traditionally been relegated
to a stock secondary role, such as the uptight neighbor. "I'm having
the same feelings that I had on "The Cosby Show'," Markus says,
"We're taking a character American Television viewers don't normally
see as accessible and turning her into a Everyperson."