Rick Bentley

Hollywood Notebook: Kerry Washington doesn’t see Olivia Pope as role model

Kerry Washington is shown in a scene from the series “Scandal.”
Kerry Washington is shown in a scene from the series “Scandal.” AP

There are a lot of positive things about Kerry Washington’s character on “Scandal.” Her Olivia Pope is a strong woman who runs her own business and has the skills to deal with the complications of politics.

It still surprises Washington when someone says they see Pope as a role model.

“She’s having an affair with a married man who is the president of the United States,” Washington says with a smile.

That’s bad enough, but Pope has also been involved with a murder and a stolen election.

What Washington counters with is that Pope has qualities worth admiring.

“She is an entrepreneur. She is very smart. She has an amazing closet. And those are all things that I think are worthy of admiration. But she is nobody’s role model,” Washington says.

What Pope is, to Washington, is a complicated character, the kind series creator Shondra Rhimes likes to create for her programs (“Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “How To Get Away With Murder.”) Her characters are not necessarily all good or all evil. They are more like real people who deal with good and bad ideas all day.

“I actually remember a young woman who wrote me a letter about how she, God bless her, could not get off her couch. She was so devastated in the episode when Olivia stole the election, because that was really the first time that Olivia became a bad guy on the show, and up until that point, she had been everything you want to be, if you want to have an affair with a married man who is president of the United States. But she was truly devastated,” Washington says.

“She said to me in the letter that she was grateful because it forced her in her therapy sessions to talk about making room for people in her life to be complicated and allowing the people in her life to not have to be perfect, to allowing for her own imperfections and her own humanity.

“I think that’s what’s so powerful about this work.”

Young and old

It was interesting interviewing the cast of “Supergirl.” The series revolves around relative newcomer Melissa Benoist as the Woman of Steel.

The actress is only 27 years old, but she finds herself at the center of a media blitz as CBS tries to get the latest series based on a comic book off the ground.

She’s sharing the series with Calista Flockhart, who plays Cat Grant, the boss at the publication where Supergirl works in her secret identity of Kara Danvers. It seems like it was only a few years ago when Flockhart was the young actress at the middle of a media storm when “Ally McBeal” became such a sensation.

Benoist would have been only 9 when the “McBeal” craze started. Flockhart was 33.

Flockhart doesn’t feel obligated to offer her veteran perspective to her young co-star. She believes Benoist is doing fine on her own.

“She knows what she’s doing. She’s very confident. And I have a little bit of insight, I guess, in that I could probably provide for her, but she’s got it all together. She’s got it going on. I think she’s very capable,” Flockhart says.

Despite being more of a veteran in this cast at 50, Flockhart is happy to be on a series that promotes such a positive message.

“I think one of the things I love about this show is it’s a real celebration of girl power. And I was really attracted to this show because I think it’s a great show for moms and daughters to watch together,” Flockhart says. “I think there’s a real family aspect to it for me, and I just think that Cat knows that already. She knows that. She’s like, ‘I’m a girl and I’m awesome, and I’m not going to apologize for that,’ and I love that about the character.

OK, she opened the door. If she got involved with Superman, that might make Han Solo or Indiana Jones mad. In case you don’t know, Flockhart and Harrison Ford have been together for years.

She doesn’t know how either would respond.

Other news

Over there: Bravo gears up for a new flock of international housewives with the acquisition of “The Real Housewives of Cheshire,” premiering at midnight Saturday, Nov. 14. The 10-episode series follows the lives of six ladies who run in Cheshire’s most exclusive social circle.

Sharing drama and their lavish lifestyles will be housewives Tanya Bardsley, Leanne Brown, Magali Gorré, Ampika Pickston, Lauren Simon and Dawn Ward.

Riding alive?: AMC has greenlit the nonfiction series “Ride with Norman Reedus” for 2016. Six one-hour episodes will follow actor and biker-enthusiast Reedus (one of the stars of “The Walking Dead”) as he takes viewers on a ride on the open road to explore local motorcycle culture and its history and celebrate some of the best and brightest collectors, mechanics and motorcycle craftsmen around the country.

Each episode of “Ride” will begin in a different city where Reedus and his riding companion – a fellow actor, musician, friend, or local chopper fanatic who shares his passion for motorcycles – will journey to a new destination.

Rick Bentley: 559-441-6355, @RickBentley1

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