By Deanna Barnert
Special to MSN Entertainment
Freshman comedy "Better With You" is right at home in ABC's Wednesday night comedy block. In this week's episode, airing at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT, with a shotgun wedding to plan, Reba McEntire gets in on the laughs. MSN got the story on Reba's visit and life on-set with JoAnna Garcia (Mia), Jake Lacy (Casey), Jennifer Finnigan (Maddie), Josh Cooke (Ben), Kurt Fuller (Joel) and Debra Jo Rupp (Vicky).
Bing: Watch clips of 'Better with
MSN TV: It's a "Reba" reunion! With JoAnna playing another knocked-up young lady, is there a bit of déjà vu being back together?
Reba McEntire: I'm not getting onto her the way I did on "Reba."
JoAnna Garcia: She doesn't smack me. In fact, I try to smack her!
Garcia: I looked like a bowling ball toward the end of my pregnancy on "Reba," but I'm excited. I have big boobs. If you want my boobs, you can go buy them for $32 at Victoria Secret.
Jake Lacy: Noted. Christmas gift.
Reba, your new album is about the different facets of who you are. How does acting fit into that?
McEntire: The new album's called "All the Women I Am" -- plug, plug! -- and that does include acting. I need a song about that! In my mind, there was always an invisible camera following me, since I was a little girl. Getting to act with people is the icing on the cake. I am a huge fan of ["Better With You"]. I love the concept. It's relatable, no matter what age you are.
Jennifer and Josh, you know about reunions. You played a couple on "Committed" in 2005. What is it like to be back together?
Jennifer Finnigan: We play a couple that's been together for nine years. It's difficult to generate that chemistry and level of comfort with someone, but we have that naturally because we've been friends for years, so I texted him, "Please be my boyfriend again."
Josh Cooke: And I said, "How does Johnny feel about that?"
Finnigan: What's funny is my husband (Jonathan Silverman) is always going, "It's so good to see you two back together again."
Cooke: Character-wise, we were totally nutty in "Committed," and it was the beginning of the relationship. You tend to play the same thing over and over in TV, so it's fun to be such different characters. We're both geeks in this one.
Finnigan: And we embrace that. He will read something and up the nerd factor so high. The writers love it and write to it.
Who in the cast is most like his/her character?
Debra Jo Rupp: Jennifer.
Kurt Fuller: I agree. Focused, efficient, organized, sincere, go-getter, kind and a little wicked.
Cooke: It might be me, honestly. I'm really nerdy and I hate rocking the boat.
Finnigan: Kurt, as well. His level of neuroses is in keeping with his character. That's diplomatic, right?
Rupp: I feel Vicky is the little acerbic, bitter side of Debra Jo that they latched onto rather quickly and love to use.
Fuller: They're taking their cues from who we are as people. Maybe not our lives, but our basic energy.
Garcia: That's a sign of a great writer, but Jake certainly plays a character.
Lacy: I'm a deep, deep man in real life. [laughs] Casey is certainly a part of who I am -- the part that's not always quick on the draw -- but there's also a version of Jake that's not Casey. I will do [endless] jokes about Casey not getting things, as long as Casey comes with heart and his intention is to be there for his family, and the writers do that beautifully and consistently.
This show is a big shift from your last steady TV gigs. Are you each enjoying that change?
Finnigan: The hours on "Close to Home" made me a tired, unhappy person. It was great to be "the star," but I'd rather be in a strong ensemble surrounded by amazing people who make your work better.
Fuller: It bothered me that I liked my character on "Supernatural" so much. He was such a bad man, and I enjoyed it, but making people laugh rather than bleed is a welcome relief. Also, after being called "a douche," "baldy" and "ugly" by two of the best-looking men you're ever going to find, this is definitely better for my soul.
Rupp: Kitty [on "That 70s Show"] was so in me, with her high voice and the laugh. To not have to be happy all the time is a gift from the heavens. To have a hairdo that I can actually go out with afterward and not have to explain and to wear pretty clothes is unbelievable.
Garcia: I loved "Privileged" and am proud of that show, but I love playing a character who is a little more out-there. Mia feels a lot like Cheyenne to me, so it's nice to tap back into that.
How do you guys like shooting in front of a live audience?
Rupp: I need the audience. I'll fight tooth and nail, because sometimes we do preshoots without them.
Cooke: Scripts change every day, so you have highs and lows throughout the week. It elevates once you have the audience there, but it's a fine line: These tapings can last from three to six hours. The major benefit of this medium is that you get to rehearse and try new things, so taping night is so fun. When you've got an audience that gets it --
Finnigan: There's nothing like that. You'll do anything to make them laugh. So much energy. So much adrenaline. The other big advantage is you immediately know what's funny and what will work. There's no other medium that gets to do that.
Garcia: This is the life, man. We have the best job in show business.
"Better with You" airs Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.Deanna Barnert is a Tinseltown-based entertainment journalist. She has covered TV and film for over a decade, contributing features and celeb profiles to MSN.com, SheKnows.com, Lucid, Genre, Soap World Australia and other outlets. A member of the Television Critics Association and former Soap Opera Weekly editor, she has appeared as an expert on Soap Net and Rick Dees in the Morning. She also contributed to the Explorer Guide Los Angeles. Check out her blog, TVDeeva.com.
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