‘Kath & Kim’ Stars Molly Shannon and Selma Blair on Remaking an Australian Hit and Their Plans to Offend Americans

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Earlier this fall, New York spoke with Molly Shannon and Selma Blair about their roles in NBC's new Americanized version of Kath & Kim — the hit Australian show about a single mom and her newly divorced daughter — in an effort to handicap the sitcom's Stateside prospects. In anticipation of its long-awaited debut tonight, a longer transcript of their chat — which touched on malls, muffin tops, and fake cheese — is after the jump.

So what's different about the new version of the show?
MS: The essence of the relationships is the same. Everyone can relate to the family struggles, the dysfunctional family, the mother that’s wanting to get on with her life…

SB: We still have the same love of the mall, the same obsession with celebrity and tabloids, and the name-brand thing. But ours is definitely Americanized. We’re not trying to copy it exactly, that’s for sure.

The previews make it seem reminiscent of Married With Children.
SB: It’s not really like that. It might have the look to it, the way it was shot, and those promos that you’ve seen, but I don’t think it’s going to read like that anymore. It has much more of a story now. Much more of a heart.

MS: Comedy is so great but it has to be based in truth. You don’t want it to be a caricature.

Does Kim still have a muffin top?
SB: Yes, Kim enjoys her food. She likes anything that has artificial cheese. And Cinnabon — or, rather, Cinnarolls. For trademarking purposes.

Do you have a favorite episode you’ve shot so far?
SB: We’re doing the lingerie party, where I admit that I don’t know what I’m doing with my life.

MS: Oh, it’s very emotional.

SB: But my favorite was you doing hip-hop, come on!

MS: Oh yeah. I was feeling a little old and I wanted to feel young so I kind of got into a whole hip-hop thing. I basically see this thing on MTV and I get an idea for wanting to look younger and I get an outfit like that. I try to look real cool, so…

SB: Mom turns into a playa. And then we go out to a bar because she decides we’ve gotta get out of the house. So I put down the Doritos and we go to the bar and she gets her vodka Red Bull on and she gets her dance crew on — a bunch of drag queens and Mom hip-hopping on the floor.

So, who are you lampooning, exactly?
MS: In watching the Australian version, what I loved is how together Kim is. She has her act together and she has a positive attitude but she keeps getting sucked back into her daughter’s drama. So I had to take that and form my own thing based on what I know and remember about those types of women. I used to do fragrance modeling in different department stores all over California when I was a struggling actress in L.A., and there was a woman that oversaw the models. She was ultra-feminine, she always had her nails done. She wore white pantsuits. So she’s somewhere in my head.

SB: I don’t know. I’m kind of lampooning myself, parts of me when I was younger, parts of people who I’ve actually loved. I’ll have to get back to you on that one, otherwise I’ll get myself in trouble.

Some Australians take the original version a little personally. Is there a danger here also?
MS: I think it’s very relatable — so many people can relate to having the kid at home. The family dysfunction is something that everyone can relate to.

SB: We’re not trying to offend anyone. It’s comedy, you do offend people sometimes but that’s not our intent. Sometimes comedy hits a little too close to home. We’re making fun of ourselves too — we’re American as well!