Not all of us see the value of rebooting a beloved TV series, but it’s a pretty safe bet that we all see the value of Candice Bergen, who is killing it once again on the new-old Murphy Brown. She makes us laugh, she feels our menopausal pain, she casts a knowing eye on the political landscape. Back during the show’s original run, she was a foil for Dan Quayle. Today she’s a foil and—shocker!—a former date for Donald Trump.
Just how much she’s valued was confirmed last week when Bergen picked up her ninth Golden Globe nomination for portraying Murphy. With characteristic slyness, Bergen gave credit to President Trump for her nomination. “It would not have been possible without the help of the President, who not only gave us the impetus for this reboot but provided us with fresh fields to plow daily that Diane English and our superb writing staff have cultivated fearlessly and with unique wit,” she said in a statement.
Diane English is the executive producer of the show—past and present. The reboot includes most of the original, charismatic cast, with Faith Ford, Grant Shaud, and Joe Regalbuto.
Getting to the Reboot
English had actually wanted to bring the series back during the 2012 presidential campaign, when Sarah Palin was on the ballot. Nothing came of it until this past election, when she met with Warner Brothers executive, Peter Roth.
“Roth came to us and said, ‘Would you consider bringing the show back?’” English told reporters at the Television Critics Press Tour. “Candice and I were kind of reluctant because we felt we had done it. But as the months ticked by, it started to feel like we had maybe a real reason to come back, and so Peter said, ‘What if I pay you to write a script?’ That got my attention.”
With characteristic slyness, Bergen gave credit to President Trump for her Golden Globe nomination.
Bergen loved the script and was immediately enthusiastic.
“I said, ‘Let’s do it’!” Bergen told NextTribe. “We moved the show to New York because I have to be in New York for other reasons. They built Murphy’s townhouse on a soundstage in a studio in Queens. When we saw [it] for the first time we all got tears in our eyes. Murphy was so important to all of us, and so to be back there, we’re just grateful.”
She added: “It’s been very moving being back at this. I can’t even explain it or understand it myself … it’s so fun and very satisfying. The Murphy character is unique, weird, exciting and funny.”
Taking On Ageism
With the characters and the actors 20 years older, the theme of ageism is present both on and off camera.
“I think, much like Murphy and Frank and Corky on television, and much like ourselves, they don’t like being sidelined,” noted Bergen. “They’ve all been in retirement for the last few years, and they want to get back in the action, especially now when there’s so much action.”
Murphy and Frank and Corky don’t like being sidelined because they are older now.
Longtime fans of Bergen remember the actress in numerous feature films like Starting Over, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, Getting Straight, Mike Nichols’ Carnal Knowledge, and Sand Pebbles opposite Steve McQueen and Sir Richard Attenborough.
Recently, she got to yuk it up with Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, and Mary Steenburgen in this year’s hit, Book Club.
The Secret from Her Past
The much-loved comedian has been making the rounds on TV to promote her show, recently appearing on Saturday Night Live, 60 Minutes, CBS News and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. She’s even been on the radio, playing “Not My Job” on NPR’s weekly show, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. While talking to Colbert, Brown acknowledged that she and Donald Trump actually went on a date as teens. “I was very young, I was about 18. Trump and I are about the same age. Or as he would point out, I’m about six months older.”
Colbert asked how the date went. “I was home very early!” Brown quipped.
Like others, Bergen has been worried about the events taking place at the White House. “That’s made for comedy if it wasn’t so terrifying, so sad and so humbling,” she said. “When you travel internationally today as an American, you keep your head down … you are just ashamed.”
The tagline for her philanthropy project is: ‘From one old bag to another.’
Still, Bergen is adamant about making a difference in the world, creating Bergen Bags, a customization business for which she personally hand-paints renderings of people’s beloved pets, monograms, and an array of other requested images onto their favorite handbags. Her tagline: “From one old bag to another.” All proceeds are donated to the ASPCA and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Bergen’s revitalized career is red hot, and that’s exactly how she likes it. At 72 years old, she is just as vibrant and straight forward as ever.
When asked what her secret is for being energetic, she deadpanned: “fear of death.”
Susan L. Hornik is a veteran entertainment and lifestyle journalist. She is an expert at making lemonade from lemons.