In Manhattan’s prestigious Upper East Side neighborhood where the ultra-wealthy reside, it can be difficult for some to navigate among those who appear to “have it all.”
From summer homes out east, to private jets, drivers, nannies, and exposure to the best of the best New York City and the world has to offer, the Upper East Side (UES) represents a life of privilege that might sound foreign, but does in fact exist for the privileged few. So much so that native New Yorker and lifelong resident of this prestigious zip code, Jill Kargman, together with the Bravo network, has created the hit comedy “Odd Mom Out.” Now in its second season, the hit TV show satirizes the world in which the one percent of New York City inhabits.
The first scripted comedy from a network known for its reality programming, “Odd Mom Out” was named one of 2015’s top 10 TV shows last year and was Bravo’s highest rated launch for a new series. Kargman, along with showrunners Elisa Zuritsky and Julie Rottenberg, explore the ultra-wealthy lives of the UES, granting viewers a voyeuristic look inside this unique world.
As Kargman’s character, Jill Weber, struggles to fit into this lifestyle of perfectly coifed blond moms who seem to have a handle on everything, the show is relatable on many levels because everyone at one time or another feels like the “odd mom out.”
Comprised of a fabulous and funny cast, the women who personify these characters took some time to sit down with BELLA New York to dish about the show that’s given them license to create some truly jaw-dropping, laugh-out-loud comedy.
Surrounded by a world of excess, it might be surprising to know that writer-turned-actor Jill Kargman is having the time of her life sharing through comedy the hilarious and outrageous situations that have been her “norm.”
While she’s ensconced in a world that can be quite crazy even to her, Kargman credits her parents for the down-to-earth childhood she and her brother experienced, as compared to some of the over-the-top lifestyles that surrounded them in Manhattan’s upscale Upper East Side neighborhood.
“I feel like growing up in the 1970s it wasn’t the same level of conspicuous consumption that is it now,” says Kargman. “We learned to appreciate everything and were reminded of how lucky we were to eat out at beautiful restaurants and not have to worry about what to order,” she says.
That sense of appreciation and exposure to all the culture New York City has to offer is the same way in which Kargman and her husband have chosen to raise their three children, while still living in the neighborhood she grew up in. “We still don’t have a country house and I want to keep it that way,” quips Kargman. “I have no lust for a second home like most people in my neighborhood.
Instead, Kargman aspires to continued success. Even after graduating from Yale, where she was a part of the theater, becoming an actress was never part of her long-term plan. “It’s a career where you can have extreme talent and work hard and still not move up, and that to me is a frustrating path I wouldn’t have taken,” she says.
Instead, she channeled her creativity into writing. She’s written for publications like Mademoiselle, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and is the author of 11 books, including the bestseller “Momzillas,” on which “ Odd Mom Out” is loosely based.
When Bravo originally approached Kargman, they wanted her in front of the camera but she made it clear that reality television just wasn’t for her. “I definitely did not want a camera following me around,” she says.
After working through the logistics, they decided to create a satirical version of Kargman’s life with her as the star. “The character in the show is me when I was 28,” she says. In those early days, she felt isolated and vulnerable, especially while trying to navigate her way through the world of super-wealthy, over-the-top momzillas.
Exhausted and hormonal, those feelings of alienation would prove to be the catalyst for her work down the road. “My observations kicked in while I watched these other moms, who were blond and perfect, getting their lives together while I felt like a mess all of the time,” she says.
And while the UES neighborhood provides Kargman and her team with an unending flow of material, she says the response from the moms has been nothing but wonderful. “I am really lucky I have cool moms in my school,” she says. “I’ve gotten nothing but high=fives.”
Kargman is most proud of the fact that the show has garnered some pretty amazing guest stars. From Blythe Danner, Dan Hedaya, Drew Barrymore, John Hodgeman, Amy Sedaris, Molly Ringwald, and Meredith Viera, this group of all-star talent has her feeling proud. “They’re all in demand and they wouldn’t have done the show unless they responded to season one,” she declares.
Whether Kargman plans to continue acting in the future is anyone’s guess; right now she’s focused on her show. “If the right thing came along, I would do it but I’m not trying to be famous.”
This August she appear at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in her one-woman show, “Stairway to Cabaret,” which she will bring to the Cafe Carlyle in early 2017. She also has a new book coming out in September entitled, “Sprinkle Glitter on My Grave: Observations, Rants, and Other Uplifting Thoughts About Life.”
When she’s not working, the mom of three spends time with her family and says that what makes her happiest is when they’re all together sharing a beautiful dinner. “I think ultimate happiness is the best accessory.”
FB: Jill Kargman
For as long as she can remember, KK Glick has always wanted to be an actress. She recalls writing an autobiography in kindergarten stating her career ambitions. “It was either that or a waitress at Friendly’s,” she says. Without missing a beat, it’s that wisecracking sense of humor that has Glick winning over audiences as the funny and relatable ER doctor in “Odd Mom Out.”
Although Glick has found her place among an all-star cast, the actress says she experienced a quick decade of rejection before landing her breakout role. While others around her were working professionally and building upon smaller roles, the future star was doing community theatre. And while she would have perhaps liked to have met Kargman a little bit sooner, she wouldn’t change a thing. “It was a slow build but it worked for me,” says Glick.
A Bravo fan before landing the part, Glick says it was like “the mothership calling me home” when she was cast. “It was pure kismet,” she says. “When I met Jill it was like lightning struck, love at first sight, like when I met my husband.” And the years of training paid off when she was called to audition. “It was all improv so the classes and money spent were well worth it,” quips Glick.
Her first initial reaction when reading the material was that “this is laugh-out-loud funny.” “The comedy hits you in the face,” she says. “It’s this over-the-top affluent world, but the way [Kargman] writes everything is extremely relatable.” According to the actress who is married but does not have children, you don’t have to be a mom on the UES to feel like the “odd mom out.”
Glick’s character, Vanessa, is the antitheses of the crazy momzillas who inhabit the Upper East Side. “She’s that refreshing antidote to these crazy women Jill is surrounded by,” says Glick. “She’s the one who’s thinking and saying what everyone is kind of hoping for.”
“I love how calm, cool, and collected they write her,” the actress says. “It’s nice to play someone with a calm moral center because I’m more in the land of the neurotic New Yorker.” And while the two might have the same deadpan dry humor, Glick finds it funny that she’s playing a doctor when she’s the biggest hypochondriac. “I would be the worst doctor; it’s great to play someone so smart and grounded. I hope she’s rubbing off on me,” she says.
In the new season, viewers will learn more about Vanessa when someone from her past reappears, shedding some light onto what makes her tick. “She’s super-independent, very funny, and very dry, which is fun to play,” says the actress.
When she’s not on set, Glick keeps busy studying her craft. “I still take acting classes between jobs, which I think surprises people,” she says. “I also love studying French and will be back in class soon.” The youngest of four children, she jokes that with 18 nieces and nephews she and her husband have yet to feel the pressure to have kids.
And while she might be relatively new to audiences, it’s clear her aspirations to make a living from acting shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve. Glick’s not only having the time of her life, she has also taken the advice her mother once shared – “to stand up straight” – and put it into practice. “It’s all about having confidence, knowing who you are and being comfortable with it,” the actress says. “You can’t wait for your life to start until your dreams come true; be happy now.”
She’s wildly funny, but then again the comedic trait is one that runs in the family, so it’s no wonder actress Abby Elliot is making waves on-screen in “Odd Mom Out.” While she’s garnering laughs each week, Elliot says she didn’t set out to be a comedian. “From a young age I wanted to act, whether it was musical theatre, or dramatic acting; I just remember not wanting to do anything else,” she says.
Her dreams of performing led to auditions at some of the most prestigious acting schools. But when she realized she was getting more laughs in her auditions than she probably should have, a conversation with her father – actor and comedian Chris Elliot – led her to try improv, which opened doors she might not have otherwise sought.
At age 16 she started traveling into New York City from her home in Fairfield County, Connecticut to pursue her career. She attended college at Manhattan Marymount but left after a month to move out to Los Angeles. “I was so eager to start working that I couldn’t stay put,” she says.
In just a few short years she headed back to NYC to join the cast of “Saturday Night Live.” “For me that experience was like college in that I learned so much,” says Elliot. “I learned how to perform in a pressure cooker environment and how to communicate with people.”
And while the work she performed on SNL was mostly as an impressionist, she’s proud of her time there. “I have definitely grown as a result of the experience,” the actress says. Being on the 8H stage and performing for Lorne Michaels [SNL’s creator] was a career highlight that the actress will not soon forget.
With her role on “Odd Mom Out,” the comedic actor is finally doing what she loves. As Brooke Von Weber, the quintessential momzilla who is highly-competitive within the uber-rich world she inhabits, the actress says her character is someone who really wants to have it all. “She’s obsessed with appearance and is completely self-absorbed,” she says. “But I think beneath all of that she is pretty insecure; the obsession with wanting to be perfect comes from a darker place.”
And while Elliot is nothing like her character, she can still relate to her. “I think we all strive in one way or another to be perfect, whether it’s as a parent, a partner, we all look to attain that,” says Elliot.
Past experiences have also proved helpful when digging deep to portray a woman so vastly different than herself. Growing up in Connecticut as the daughter of an actor, Elliot felt different than her peers. “I felt like the odd person out in a lot of situations,” she says. “Wanting to go into acting professionally I think is pretty alienating and the whole essence of what our show is based upon, feeling like the odd one out.”
In season two, viewers see Brooke at her worst; at the end of last season she discovered her husband cheated. But she won’t be down for long. “She’s vulnerable but you’ll see how she picks herself up and becomes this independent woman; that was fun to play,” says Elliot.
With a moment to reflect, it’s clear the actress is taking her father’s advice, to make things as fun as possible. “He always told me if you’re not having fun then what’s the point,” she says. It’s clear that Elliot, who is happiest after she’s completed a successful day and gets to head home to her fiancé and family, is having fun. “I feel most beautiful when I know that I’ve done the best that I can.”
With an extensive resume of work under her belt, actress Joanna Cassidy has proven that you don’t necessarily have to start off early to be successful as a performer. Up until her mid-20s she didn’t have the slightest desire to become an actor. Modeling to support her two children, Cassidy heard about a movie being cast and boldly called up for an audition. “I just said, I think you should see me for this job, and I got it,” says the actress, who plays Candace Von Weber on “Odd Mom Out.”
Up until that point, she didn’t have any experience except as an extra on a Steve McQueen film. “I didn’t go to school for this, I just observed, and thank goodness I have a good eye,” says Cassidy. “It takes a while to hone these skills although there are some people who right out of the gate — like Jill [Kargman] — just have it.”
Since then the actress has been working steadily, with roles on TV in “Six Feet Under,” “Buffalo Bill,” “Body of Proof,” and in films such as “Under Fire,” “ Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” and “Blade Runner,” a film she credits as her breakout role.
“I love sci-fi and when I got on set, I knew it was going to be gigantic,” she says. “I am thrilled because it’s what life is turning into. It’s a real prediction and Philip K. Dick [the author] was able to do that – he’s a brilliant man.”
These days Cassidy is focusing on a much different genre with her work on Bravo. As the matriarch of the Von Weber family, her character Candace, while trying to convince everyone around her that she’s in control, is terribly insecure. “She’s really uncomfortable with herself but covers it up well.”
The actress credits this amazing character to the writers. “I think they’re rock stars,” she says. She also has a large amount of respect for her fellow actors, all of whom, Cassidy says, are perfectionists. “A lot of hard work goes into this and it’s far from effortless,” she says.
“Comedy is not easy,” says the actress. “It’s complicated stuff, but I think I’m good at it and we’re having a blast doing it.”
When taking on a character Cassidy always infuses a little bit of herself in them. “I like to make a study of the people I’m playing and being in New York gave me the opportunity to do so for this role,” she says. “There’s a lot I like about these women; they’re very strong, like Southern women, and they know what they want and go after it.”
In addition to her career on-screen, Cassidy has also made it a point to be involved in charitable causes close to her heart. She’s involved with Warriors and Wolves, a therapeutic program for returning combat veterans at the Lockwood Animal Rescue Center in California. “I really want to help raise money for the sanctuary,” says the actress.
She has also lent time to help those with Alzheimer’s, it’s a disease that hits close to home. “My father had dementia,” she says.
With longevity in a business that can be fleeting, Cassidy credits her success to not giving up or taking no for an answer. A spiritual person who takes time to meditate, she says as a single mother she had to work hard; nothing was ever just handed to her. “I made it happen because I didn’t give up,” she says. “I’ve been a very fortunate human being.”
IG: Joanna Cassidy
Contributed by Alexandra Anastasio