New CBS Series Came When Morgan Freeman Was Inspired by Hillary's Infamous Testimony on Benghazi

September 21st, 2014 6:48 AM

The Sunday newspaper supplement Parade Magazine carried an interview Sunday with Tea Leoni, star of the new CBS series Madam Secretary, who confirmed that the infamous “What difference does it make?” testimony of Hillary Clinton on Benghazi inspired the new show.

Madam Secretary comes from a perhaps surprising source: Morgan Freeman, Leoni’s costar in 1998’s Deep Impact, who hatched the idea for the show with his producing partner, Lori McCreary. “Morgan was watching Hillary [Clinton] during the Benghazi hearings,” says McCreary. “He called me and said, ‘What did she go home to, what does she talk about?’ ”

Says [series creator Barbara] Hall, “We all wanted to show a woman whose personal life wasn’t falling apart or experiencing scandalous events; she’s doing what she thinks is right, in government and at home.”

Leoni says the producers allayed certain doubts she had about playing a high-powered woman on a network drama. “I knew Morgan was going to protect this character. He was never going to let it become Madam Sexetary.” She also had a broader concern: “There’s often an assumption that men in 2014 have an unwillingness to partner with a strong woman. I can’t believe more people aren’t offended by that. I’m tired of it, and I’m way too old to play out that scenario.” Hall agreed, and made sure to give Henry equal footing with his politically powerful spouse.

This being CBS, they weren't going to be so inspired by Hillary in real life that the Secretary of State went home to an adulterous ex-president spouse.

Leoni told Ken Tucker she hoped the show would arouse curiosity about government work. “I’m sorry that young people aren’t ignited by politics, that it’s a dirty word. My daughter is interested in the stalemate in Congress; she says, ‘So neither side budges and that’s it? We don’t do anything?’ Making a case and negotiating—that’s what we want to do in the show. Wouldn’t compromise and agreement be great things to promote?”