Kathy Bates hates NBC. Actually, she absolutely detests NBC.
And you could hardly blame her, what with the network canceling her series “Harry’s Law” in May 2012 despite the fact that it was one of NBC’s most-watched series.
Asked whether her experience with that show made her at all reluctant to join the cast of American Horror Story: Coven” (Wednesday, 11 p.m., FX), Bates said, “You bet.” And she hesitated a moment before talking about her feelings toward the NBC execs who canceled “Harry’s Law.”
“I don’t want to give them any airtime,” she said, contemplating what she wanted to say next and then taking aim at NBC.
“I think they treated us like s---,” Bates said. “They kicked us to the curb. I think they disrespected us. I think they disrespected our 7 to 11 million viewers every week. And I think they’re getting what they deserve. Thank you.”
You’ve got to love that kind of honesty. It’s relatively rare in Hollywood, where people tend to give politically correct answers so as not to offend anyone who they might end up working with again someday.
Networks don’t even use the word “cancel” much anymore. They simply stop talking about series they drop.
Bates, however, is clearly still smarting from the cancellation of her legal drama after 34 episodes. In NBC’s defense, “Harry’s Law” had lots of older viewers and performed far less well among the 18-to-49 demo advertisers covet — and pay to reach.
The unhappy ending to “Harry’s Law” did not, however, prevent Bates from reaching out to Jessica Lange about “American Horror Story.”
“I went out for a drink with my friend Jessica after seeing the first season,” she said, “and I said, ‘You’ve got to get me on that show.’ ”
The Oscar-winning actress was thinking of maybe a couple of episodes as a guest star, but then she had a meeting with executive producer Ryan Murphy.
“And I must say when he pitched this show to me, this little kid that lives inside all of us, I think, just started jumping up and down and running around and saying, ‘I want to do it!’ ” Bates said.
Details are sparse about “American Horror Story: Coven,” which has not yet been screened for critics. (That’s not a good sign, but we’re promised a link a couple of days before the premiere.)
But we know it involves New Orleans and witches (obviously), and that Bates stars as Madame LaLaurie, based on a historical figure who tortured and murdered slaves.
The chance to play the role “just got me so excited that it sort of washed most of the crap away” from her “Harry’s Law” experience.
“Clearly, there’s some residue,” Bates deadpanned.
Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.