Courteney Cox definitely enjoys the grape, both in character as Cougar Town‘s Jules Cobb and after a day’s filming is done.Seated between co-stars Christa Miller and Busy Phillips on the set of the ABC comedy, Cox is in good humor and unusually expansive before a small cluster of TV writers.
“I do love wine,” she said Wednesday when locatetv.com popped the question. “And I have a fancy palette. At least that’s what David always used to say to me.”
It’s her only direct reference to estranged husband David Arquette, from whom she separated last year after 11 years of marriage. “Oh yeah,” Cox said when asked later if Cougar Town provides a safe haven from all the tabloid speculation about her personal life. “Thank God for the show. This is my saving grace.”
Back to the vino, which Cox’s Cobb regularly consumes voraciously on Cougar Town. Her vessel of choice used to be the 44 ounce “Big Joe,” which was broken as part of a recent episode’s storyline. It’s actually filled with grape juice during filming, but cast members regularly gather in Cox’s on-set “bungalow” for the real thing.
“I like French and Italian wines,” she said. “I used to like California wines, but I like them less sweet now.”
At a preceding interview session Wednesday before the TV critic masses, Cougar Town executive producer Bill Lawrence noted that “one of the first things I noticed when I met Courteney Cox is she pours herself a healthy glass of wine. Like the type that you could do wrist curls with.”
“She keeps it for a long time. She milks it,” co-star Miller clarified, probably to no avail.
Cougar Town will be getting a third season next fall, ABC announced earlier in the week. That’s nowhere near a match for the 10-year run of NBC’s Friends, in which the now 46-year-old Cox played Monica Geller. Her ABC series also is a “single camera” show filmed in private while Friends unfolded during tapings before live studio audiences.
“I’m not huge on having an audience for some reason,” Cox said. “It made me nervous, even in year 10. “I’d rather do new scenes every day and move on. I get bored.
“But let me tell you something,” she quickly added. “I loved Friends. I’d have done a couple more years. But this is easier for me in some ways. I think it’s kind of tailor made for my personality.”
Her former Friends co-stars keep meshing with her both on- and off-camera. Jennifer Aniston recently guest-starred on Cougar Town in the role of Jules’ decidedly oddball therapist. Matt Perry’s new Mr. Sunshine comedy series will get a limited run on ABC in Cougar Town‘s Wednesday time slot, beginning Feb. 9th. And Cox recently glimpsed Matt LeBlanc adorning a bus in connection with his new Showtime series Episodes.
“He looks so cute. I will be watching it,” she said.
Friends brought her considerable fame and fortune. But its six stars also soon found themselves in the position of one-upping each other with movie roles and other projects.
“I wish I hadn’t been such a ‘comparative person,’ ” Cox said. “I don’t want to do that anymore. There was a lot of stuff that could mess with your ego being on a show with an ensemble of six people. It was hard. It was a lot of learning for me.”
Cox and Arquette were married halfway through Friends‘ run, and have a daughter, Coco, who’s now six years old.
“If I say yes, am I a bad mom?” Cox said after being asked if her daughter is allowed to watch Cougar Town. “I do let her watch it, but I tell her to close her eyes when it’s inappropriate. She really thinks that Dan Byrd (who plays Jules’ college age son, Travis) is her brother. She calls him Brownie. This is her family. She’s supposed to be here any minute.”
By the way, the show’s title is destined to change sooner (or more likely later), executive producer Lawrence said in an earlier session with TV writers.
Cougar Town “has nothing to do with what it’s about, but writers look for ways to procrastinate,” he said.
Cox, however, prefers to stay the course.
“I think it’s a great title,” she said. “It’s become cool to say you watch a show called Cougar Town, I think.”
The show’s audience fall-off is still pronounced, though, with Cougar Town regularly dropping a few million viewers from its potent Wednesday night lead-in, Modern Family.
“It’s a double-edged sword for us right now,” Lawrence said. “You’re always going to get nailed a bit if you don’t retain their audience. And they’re a big hit. We are successful, but we’re not a big hit . . . The next big test for the show is that either at the beginning of next season or halfway through it will have to lead off its own hour somewhere . . . So that’s the next real hurdle.”
“Well, I want to stay behind Modern Family,” Cox countered. “I like to stay behind a good, solid hit. I don’t want to move.”
“We’re going to have to make the leap sooner or later,” Lawrence said. “I would like to stay behind Modern Family for six years and then maybe the seventh year they try us out in our own time slot. But I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Wherever it lands, Cougar Town will have to replicate a fine wine. Improve with age or eventually die on the vine.