Beverly Hills, Calif. • Katherine Heigl is returning to network television, and she’s bringing her mother with her.
By the way, Heigl doesn’t think either one of them has ever been difficult.
In NBC’s new fall drama "State of Affairs," Heigl stars as CIA analyst Charleston Tucker, who briefs the president of the United States on a daily basis. The president, Constance Payton (Alfre Woodard), was almost her mother-in-law, until the son/fiancé was killed.
Nancy Heigl is an executive producer on her daughter’s show, which caused some consternation among a few TV critics. It’s far from unusual for a star’s manager to get executive producer credit, although it’s not all that common for a 35-year-old actor to be managed by her mother.
So what, exactly, does Nancy Heigl do in her role as EP?
"She bakes us cookies," Katherine Heigl joked.
"Katie and I obviously have a partnership where we work in the business together," Nancy Heigl said. "I am her mother for sure. So, of course, I care about her interests. But I’m just learning about executive producing."
Executive producer Joe Carnahan said it’s a "team effort" and that Nancy Heigl was a "huge part" of the team … without getting specific about what she does.
"Nancy and Katie are both just producers like everyone else," said executive producer Ed Bernero. "I mean, we have producers’ meetings, and they’re at work every day with everyone. The role outside of the show doesn’t really seem to affect anything."
The questions about Nancy Heigl’s role in the production of "State of Affairs" are really thinly veiled questions about the reputation both Heigls have in Hollywood.
Katherine Heigl made headlines in 2008 when she declined to put her name in the Emmy competition for "Grey’s Anatomy," blaming the show’s writers for the lack of quality in her work. She knocked her film "Knocked Up" for being sexist, and there have been reports that both Heigls have been hard to work with on other projects.
"I can only say that I certainly don’t see myself as being difficult," Katherine Heigl said. "I would never intend to be difficult. I don’t think my mother sees herself as being difficult. I mean, it’s most important to everybody to conduct themselves professionally and respectfully and kindly.
"So if I have ever disappointed somebody, it was never intentional."
It may well be that Heigl is simply outspoken, and outspoken women in Hollywood are often labeled difficult. It’s also true that difficult people tend not to see themselves as others see them.
Heigl splits her time between Los Angeles and Park City, where she married singer Josh Kelly in 2007. The couple adopted their first daughter in 2009 and their second in 2012.
"I took a couple of years off to just really be with my family and be with my new child, my new daughter, and expand that family," Heigl said. "And I needed that time. I needed to be a mom and be a wife and be a friend and really revel in that and remember what it is I feel so passionate about in this industry."
Katherine Heigl also is an executive producer on "State of Affairs," and she’s excited about her new role.
"I’m not sure why I feel this way, but acting and performing has always felt a bit more like kid’s play to me because it’s something I’ve always loved," she said. "And I love the opportunity to tell stories and be imaginative. And the executive producing angle of it feels more like a grown-up job. … I’m learning. I’m getting better."
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