Ni­cole Richie: be­ing cool is the ‘acting’ part

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - AN­DREA MANDELL LOS AN­GE­LES —

“Great News” is count­ing on Ni­cole Richie’s Mil­len­nial chops.

The TV per­son­al­ity has all the hall­marks of the ma­ligned gen­er­a­tion in the new Tina Fey-pro­duced NBC com­edy “Great News,” play­ing a Snapchat-ob­sessed, shal­low news an­chor whose an­tics rou­tinely give the old guard (por­trayed ex­pertly by John Michael Hig­gins) heart­burn.

But in real life, she, like many 30some­things, del­i­cately opts out.

“I don’t con­sider my­self a Mil­len­nial,” says Richie, 35, con­trast­ing youth cul­ture so­cial me­dia de­pen­dency to her col­lege days when she used AOL dial-ups to get on­line. “Be­cause there’s some real ones out there I know and I’m like, whew! We are not the same.”

“Great News” re­volves around a young TV pro­ducer (Briga Hee­lan) who grits her teeth as her over­bear­ing mother (An­drea Martin) takes an in­tern­ship at the news sta­tion. Richie plays Por­tia, an an­chor whose pay­cheque is rooted in her abil­ity to be the res­i­dent cool young thing who gets rat­ings.

On paper, Richie is per­fect, hav­ing char­ac­ter­ized so much of the early aughts thanks to re­al­ity TV show fame with Paris Hil­ton on “The Sim­ple Life” (2003-07).

But times, they have changed. Her chil­dren Har­low, 9, and Spar­row, 7 (with hus­band Joel Mad­den), “live in em­bar­rass­ment of me,” says Richie, who says she started hav­ing kids years be­fore many of her friends. “But I kind of ex­pected that. “I’ll do one dab, and I’ll get like, ‘How dare you, why would you do that,’” she laughs.

“Great News” marks Richie’s sit­com de­but, and the for­mer re­al­ity star au­di­tioned three times to prove her chops to Fey and se­ries cre­ator Tracey Wig­field.

“I think it’s in­spired cast­ing,” says Martin. “When peo­ple hear her name, im­me­di­ately they think, ‘Can she act?’ She’s so great be­cause her comedic rhythm is dif­fer­ent from every­body else. She re­ally is so cool and chill, as the kids say, and that’s what comes across.”

On set, Richie had a mo­ment in the sun with Martin.

“An­drea had a line where she had to say, ‘Turn down for what,’ and she didn’t know what that meant,” says Richie. So I was like, ‘Oh!’ I played her the song. So she con­sid­ers me so young and hip and cool,” says Richie. “On the other hand, my girl­friend called me yes­ter­day and said ‘Drake said some­thing about your dad in his song.’” Richie drew a blank. “She was like, you don’t fol­low @cham­pag­nepapi (Drake’s han­dle) on In­sta­gram?!’ I was like, what is that?’ She’s like, ‘You’re 90!’”

Wig­field based the show on her re­la­tion­ship with her mother. She calls Richie nat­u­rally funny.

“She also has high-sta­tus pres­ence about her,” she says. “As soon as she walks in the room, I felt like, ‘This is a cool per­son. This will be great against John Michael Hig­gins, to make (his char­ac­ter) feel like a loser ev­ery week.’”

But dad Lionel Richie wasn’t al­lowed to come spy. “Be­cause he’ll come and it’s a thing,” she says. “He’s so ex­cited. He’ll tell a story about me when I was 15. And like I’m not try­ing to do all that. I’m just here, at work, do­ing my thing.”

Her own TV habits? “I’m like seven years be­hind,” she says. “Like I just started watch­ing ‘Girls’ sea­son 1. Do you un­der­stand? I’m very far be­hind. And be­fore that I was watch­ing ‘Des­per­ate Housewives.’ Not the ‘Real Housewives.’ The des­per­ate ones.”

“Great News” airs Tues­day at 9 p.m. on NBC. USA Today

NBC

Ni­cole Richie plays the self-ob­sessed young thing against John Michael Hig­gins’ over­bear­ing coan­chor in “Great News.”

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