A Quickie with Joni Lefkowitz

 
 

AE: Fine, be that way. Well, the
series is up now. I saw Bridget McManus guest stars in the first episode.
JL:
Yes. Susanna and I are going to a girl’s birthday party and we bash
everybody else, like saying that the girl who’s turning 28, really looks 35. At
the party, we’re alienating everybody with our inside jokes. And I have a crush
on Bridget’s character, and Susanna has a crush on this guy, and we set each
other up on assignments to help us get our crushes. And then, each one kind of sabotages
the other.

AE: Who doesn’t have a crush on
Bridget? People might not remember that you were the very
first guest on Brunch with Bridget
.

JL:
Yeah. I think that was the best one, personally. It has not been the
same since.

AE: After you, there was nowhere to
go but down?
JL:
[laughs] "Just stop!" She should have quit while she was
ahead.

AE: You know Bridget doesn’t quit. Is
she going to be a series regular?
JL:
She’s in at least four out of six episodes. She plays my crush, and we
have a very short-lived love arc.

AE: So, it’s a lesbian relationship
in real-time?
JL:
Yeah. Like real life. It’s a really, over-the-top, moody, bi-polar
lesbian.

AE: It is like real life! An over-the-top, bi-polar lesbian relationship
is always a good ride. I think the number of hyphens in a relationship’s
description is inversely proportional to the length of it.
JL:
Yeah.

AE: When did you realize you and
Susanna had the same writing sensibilities?
JL:
Susanna had known since she was like, 14, that she wanted to write. She’d
been making short films and being in these festivals. It was something that I
was definitely intrigued by, but I didn’t think it was realistic to make a
living that way. Meeting Susanna and learning that we work really well together,
and have a single writing voice made me I realize that I wanted to go for it.

We suffered through many, many temp jobs and retail jobs before we got a
dime for writing, but it’s been worth the wait.

AE: Temp jobs are treasure troves of material.
Do you have any good stories?
JL:
I have a butt load of temp anecdotes but my favorites are all about this
60-something administrative assistant-for-life named Debbie.

AE: They’re all named Debbie.
JL:
Yeah, so she sat right across from me at my old job a corporate office.
[She] used to call me over to look at pictures of kissing babies and stuff.

One day, she was all riled up and was asking everyone if they’d seen her
boss. Finally, she came to my desk and goes, "Joni, if you see Dan, will
you tell him I had to leave? I have the screaming sh–s, and I’ve had to go to
the bathroom every five minutes."

AE: Oh goodie.
JL:
She also used to routinely yell at her mother on the phone: "Mom,
do you have the phone to your deaf ear? Put the phone to the ear that is not
deaf."

AE: Awesome.
JL:
Fun times in my life. I got fired from that job because it was
"clear I didn’t want to be there anymore." I was just proud that it
took them a year and a half to realize that.

AE: And now, you and Susanna have your
web show, and a project with HBO called Washingtonienne. What’s
going on with that?
JL:
It’s a half hour comedy about women in their late 20s working on the
hill. It was inspired by the real-life events of this intern [Jessica Culter] in
Washington who got caught up in a sex scandal. But we put it more like, "What
if your friend got caught in a sex scandal in DC?" It’s more like the tone
of Sex and the City. It’s kind of
grounded and true-to-life.

AE: When does it go?
JL:
We shot it and are in the editing stage right now. We’re awaiting word
on whether we’ll be picked up to series.

AE: It has a title that’s fun to
spell — thanks for that. Frankly, I’m sick of typing The L Word because it always comes out The L Owrd, and I have to fix it. I’m glad that’s almost over. If
you had a chance to write the finale, what would that look like?
JL:
I would like for the characters to realize they’ve dated their entire
social circle, so they all get sex changes to gain access to the world of
straight women. Except Max: He continues to make podcasts.

AE: Fantastic. What about lesbian
films? Which one is your favorite?
JL:
I liked that Imagine Me and You. I
thought that was cute.

AE: You said that with a little bit
of apology in your voice.
JL:
Well, I mean, it’s not a "good" good movie, but I thought as
far as lesbian movies go, it was decent.

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