Maya Rudolph will be able to put her “Saturday Night Live” Oprah Winfrey impersonation experience to good use shortly as she’s about to play an Oprah-inspired talk show host on her new NBC sitcom, “Up All Night.”
Producers of the show confirmed at Monday’s Television Critics Association Summer Session that Maya’s character, Ava, was being retooled from the pilot that was already shot for NBC, about two parents — Reagan and Chris (played by Christina Applegate and Will Arnett) — trying to raise a baby and stay cool.
When asked about her character (who is Christina’s boss on the show) becoming a talk show host, something Lorne Michaels confirmed was a change that stemmed from his input (he’s an executive producer on the show), Maya said Oprah is an inspiration to her character.
“I think when people hear ‘daytime talk show,’ the first word that comes to anyone’s mind is ‘Oprah’… So that’s the goal and I think this character’s journey is someone who is trying to get there,” Maya explained. “She’s certainly not at the point of celebrity. She’s got a long way to go.”
New mom Maya, who gave birth to her third child just a few months ago, son Jack, admitted to being a little out of it during the TCA panel, but she recounted her meeting with Oprah, which happened some time after playing the talk show legend on “SNL” some years ago.
“She was great,” Maya said. “The first time we did Oprah on ‘SNL’ it was a parody of Oprah’s Favorite Things, and she had me on [her show], which was really, really exciting… She actually said she loved it. She said she was really happy because I was the first woman to actually play her in many years at ‘SNL’ and that I was like, thin.”
“She thanked us for not putting her in a fat suit,” “Up All Night” Executive Producer Emily Spivey, a former “SNL” writer, added.
The characters of Reagan and Chris will remain the same – two first time parents not quite ready to give up their cool, but trying very hard to be good parents at the same time.
At Monday’s panel, Christina said she could absolutely relate to her character.
“I know for myself, I gave birth to my daughter at 39 years old so I had many years of being completely self obsessed and self-absorbed and doing what I wanted to do. Also, coming from this generation, I [know] people who are sort of 38-40 now [and] still say, ‘Dude,’” Christina laughed. “I don’t know if we’ve grown up entirely. I know that we’re professional, responsible, but there’s this whole kind of generation of people that I think, you know… we were first to kind of get the tattoos, our music was different and I know that for myself, I still feel like I’m in my early 20s. So a baby comes and it does change that.
“My baby’s a blessing, but that’s what these characters are, these later in life parents who’ve been doing it their way for a really long time, and now it’s someone else’s way,” Christina, who is mom to daughter Sadie, 7 months, added.
“Up All Night” premieres on September 14 at 10 PM on NBC.