Reba McEntire’s back in the studio this fall — but not to record new music. Instead, she’s filming her new sitcom, Malibu Country, which premieres Friday (Nov. 2) on ABC at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT.
Starring McEntire and Lily Tomlin, Malibu Country is the country queen’s second foray into television. Her first series, Reba, is currently being aired on CMT.
“They’re both funny,” McEntire says, comparing the two shows during a phone call with CMT.com. “They both have great stories for the family to watch.”
The new show follows the character Reba Gallagher and her family as they adjust to a new home on the West Coast. After discovering her country-star husband, played by Jeffrey Nordling, has been cheating on her with his backup singer, Gallagher has just finalized a messy public divorce.
“She finds out during the divorce proceedings that he had bought this Malibu party pad,” says McEntire. “She thinks it would be perfect for her and the kids and her mom to move into to get away from all the gossip and prying eyes in Nashville, so that’s what we do.”
To add insult to injury, Gallagher was once a promising country singer in her own right, before giving it up to be a mom.
“He was more popular than her because after her first two albums, she decided to slow down and raise their two kids, June and Cash,” McEntire.
Now the family — Gallagher, the two kids and her feisty mother, Lillie Mae — hope to reignite Gallagher’s career and move on with their lives amid the posh surroundings of Malibu, Calif. But all in all, McEntire says her character is pretty well adjusted.
“I think she’s going to be a fun person to hang out with,” she explains. “Especially if her mama’s involved! (laughs) That’s Lily Tomlin, and she’s a handful. You never know what she’s gonna do in each episode!”
Also serving as executive producer on the project, McEntire was pitched the idea by Eurythmics singer and songwriter Dave Stewart. He mentioned the concept to McEntire’s stepson Brandon Blackstock during a flight from Nashville to Los Angeles, and word eventually got back to the Oklahoma native.
Other characters include overly open-minded neighbor Kim (Sara Rue) and record label assistant Geoffery (Jai Rodriguez), who helps Gallagher in her quest.
“The cast is a lot of fun,” McEntire said. “They’re very professional, very creative and very eager to get in there and start working. But more than anything, they’re just really good people that I like to hang out with.”
The first episode will follow the down-to-earth family as they travel from Nashville to their new home and meet their new friends. Gallagher is determined not to let the materialistic nature of their new seaside city corrupt her children’s values.
Fans will be glad to hear that McEntire will do some singing on the show — she sings the main theme song as well as “a couple of others” that will be heard throughout the season — and that during the premiere they can Tweet their thoughts live with McEntire as they watch.
After being forced to cancel her regular spot hosting the ACM Awards in order to continue working on Malibu Country, McEntire admits it leaves little time for anything else, but says she truly enjoys being on TV.
“I really do,” she says. “It’s a five day a week schedule, and we run it just like a play. On the fifth day, we shoot it in front of a live audience, and that crowd just brings something out in us. I know we’re all show dogs, so by the time the audience gets in there, we’re ready to have an audience to perform for.
“So putting it all together, making sure every script and every concept on the show is meaningful with maybe a little something to learn from it, it’s a lot of work,” says McEntire. “But it’s also a lot of fun. It’s a job I love to do.”