“Call Me Kat,” a comedy starring Mayim Bialik as a 39-year-old single woman who spends her entire savings to open a cat cafe in Louisville, Kentucky, premieres at 8 p.m. Sunday evening on Fox.
“Call Me Kat” is based on the British series “Miranda” about a single woman (Miranda Hart) who owns a joke shop and boutique and has been a constant disappointment to her mother (Patricia Hodge).
“Call Me Kat” stems from a meeting showrunner Darlene Hunt had with executives from Jim Parsons’ production company “That’s Wonderful Productions” to discuss an idea he had for a series about Southern mothers.
“At the end of the meeting, an executive at his company rattled off other projects they were developing,” Hunt told City News Service. “She mentioned `Miranda’ which I knew well because I had met with the BBC a few years earlier about developing an American version of Miranda Hart’s show. It was a short meeting at the BBC because without an actress attached, I had no ideas.
“As soon as the executive at Jim’s company told me that Mayim Bialik was interested in doing an American version, I was hooked on the idea. I thought I could build a show around her. I like that she’s not 20-something. I like that she’s quirky and accessible and relatable and funny.
“I left that meeting and by the time I got to my car I had landed on the idea of her as a 39-year-old single woman who ran a cat cafe in Louisville. I had just visited a cat cafe with my kids in L.A. and I have long wanted to set a show somewhere in Kentucky since that’s where I’m from.”
Hunt created the 2010-13 Showtime dramedy “The Big C” which starred Laura Linney as a suburban Minneapolis school teacher diagnosed with melanoma. She was also a producer of the 2015-16 Amazon Prime Video period drama “Good Girls Revolt,” the 2018 reboot of “Roseanne” and its spinoff “The Conners.”
“I was at a place in my life, having written darker material, that I really wanted to write a light bright comedy with heart,” Hunt said. “I wanted to tell a story about a happy successful single woman of a certain age. Even though she’s dating and has crushes, she doesn’t feel like her life is missing something without a romantic partner. Her partners are her friends and her business is her baby.”
Parsons, who portrayed the boyfriend, then husband of Bialik’s character on “The Big Bang Theory,” is one of the show’s executive producers. He “has consulted on every aspect of the project from script development to casting to costumes,” Hunt said.
“Mayim really wanted his support in person during filming of the pilot but sadly, due to COVID, he’s stayed on the other coast and all of our consults are over the phone or Zoom,” Hunt said.
“Call Me Kat” shows a character who spends “a lot of her time in the way that we don’t see a lot of women spend their time on television or really in life,” Bialik told reporters in a Zoom call last month.
“She is alone,” Bialik said. “She’s alone sometimes with her thoughts and with her fantasies. What we’ve created is a woman who includes everyone in her world because that’s what makes her world interesting and colorful.
“And sometimes those are people that exist, and sometimes they are people that do not, that don’t exist. And sometimes it’s people who exist in different ways than they actually exist so that it fits better with her world view.”
The rest of the “Call Me Kat” cast consists of Emmy winner Swoosie Kurtz as Kat’s mother, Kyla Pratt and Emmy winner Leslie Jordan as employees at the cat cafe, and Cheyenne Jackson as Max, a former crush and good friend of Kat’s who returns to Louisville and takes a job as a bartender at the piano bar across the street from the cat cafe, working with his friend, Carter (Julian Gant).
The show will regularly air at 9 p.m. Thursday.
Bialik is also among the series’ executive producers. She made it “a top priority” that the scenes involving cats be shot together “so that they don’t have to wait around, even if it makes her own scenes more complicated or out of order,” Hunt said.
“Call me Kat” has had “some comical cat moments” during filming, Hunt said.
“Sometimes during a scene a cat just decides to meow all the way through it so we just take that cat out,” Hunt said. “We don’t suffer cat continuity. Sometimes I watch a cut of an episode and can see different cats appear and disappear within the same scene. Perhaps it’ll turn into a drinking game for viewers.
“But mostly we all enjoy scenes with cats. Especially Mayim. We recently had one trained to give her (a) high five.”
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