Andie MacDowell, the leading lady of Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove, thinks there’s already too much violence, too much hardness, too much angst in the world.
The last thing she wants at home is to see more of that madness on her television.
“I get stressed out with all the craziness out there,” MacDowell says. “It’s exhausting. I need something warm and fuzzy to watch.”
MacDowell suspects she’s not alone. She’s convinced that there’s a multitude of underserved viewers just aching for something other than bloody forensics shows and brutal serial-killer-as-protagonist dramas.
“Even reality TV has too much anger in it,” she says.
So MacDowell is excited to be providing an option.
Cedar Cove, which premieres at 7 p.m. Saturday on Hallmark Channel, is video comfort food.
MacDowell plays Olivia Lockhart, a municipal court judge in a picturesque Washington seaside community, a place so small that everyone knows everyone, a place so friendly that no one locks their doors.
The show is based on a series of a dozen books by bestselling romance novelist Debbie Macomber. MacDowell, in fact, now appears on the covers of newly reissued “Cedar Cove” novels.
“Isn’t it great?” the actress asks. “Making this show, with some of the things that I say, I often feel like I’m popping right out of a romance novel. And then, looking at the books, I really am popping out of a romance novel. How much fun am I having?”
The man in Olivia’s life is the handsome new editor of the Cedar Cove Chronicle, Jack Griffith (played by Dylan Neal).
“Here’s something else that’s interesting about this show — it’s the fact that we’re not kids,” MacDowell, 55, says of herself and her leading man. “You don’t often see people our age being represented as vibrant and sexy. I think it’s nice.
“And I do think Dylan and I have something. I think we’re doing a good job. Of course, it’s easy for me because Dylan is gorgeous. It’s fun.”
One could argue that it’s almost radical to offer this brand of kinder, gentler programming in this day and age. In many ways, Cedar Cove is something of a throwback to another era. It’s a celebration of small-town values and feels-like-first-time love.
Some people might find it cloying, but this has long been the Hallmark Channel formula for success in its original movies. There’s clearly an audience for this stuff.
There’s also a ready-made audience of Macomber fans.
“She has an enormous fan base already established for us,” MacDowell says. “I’m hoping the fans will be pleased, that we’ll give them a taste of what they already like.”
In the premiere, Olivia is up for appointment to a federal court in Seattle, a position in which she can have a greater impact as a judge, but she’s torn about leaving. This being a series titled Cedar Cove, it’s probably not much of a spoiler to reveal she’ll ultimately stay put.
Right show, wrong time
MacDowell co-starred in such feature films as Groundhog Day, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Sex, Lies, and Videotape, but she’s probably just as widely known as the commercial spokeswoman for L’Oreal beauty and hair-care products.
For the past four years, she says, she had been searching for just the right TV series. Then, at precisely the most inopportune time, along came the offer to star in Cedar Cove.
“I was waiting for my youngest daughter to finish high school and go off to college before I committed to something that was going to take me away from home,” MacDowell says. “I’ve been in Vancouver shooting since March and I won’t get back till August — and being away that long conflicts with the biggest job I have, which is being a parent.”
But MacDowell’s daughters, both of whom are aspiring actresses, read the Cedar Cove script and insisted that Mom not pass this opportunity up. Her older girl, Rainey, then volunteered to watch younger daughter Margaret during the remainder of her senior year.
“Then there were delays in getting started,” MacDowell says. “I was supposed to leave in November, but I ended up getting to stay with my daughter till the end of March, meaning I didn’t have to sacrifice a thing. So even that has worked out.
“And now I get to be in this beautiful place, working for a great company, making this wonderful show. I’m so lucky.”