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Bonnie Somerville talks Cashmere Mafia

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They say that the third time's the charm, and when it comes to Bonnie Somerville and Darren Star, the rule just might turn out to be true. The actress and producer are enjoying the early success of Cashmere Mafia, their third joint venture, and Somerville recently took a moment to discuss the project with reporters.

Somerville held leading roles in Grosse Pointe and Kitchen Confidential, two Star-produced series that met untimely ends despite critical acclaim. Fortunately, the two like each other enough to give it one more shot.

"I joke with him," Somerville admitted. "I tell him, you know, 'Why do you keep hiring me? All of the shows I do for you get canceled,' and he laughs. But he's been very good to me."

Somerville stars in Cashmere Mafia as Caitlin Dowd, a senior executive at a cosmetics company. Caitlin and her three best friends provide each other with much-needed support and laughter as they navigate New York lives crowded with high-powered jobs, family problems, and fabulous clothes.

Portraying the fiercely loyal foursome is made simple for Somerville and her costars (Lucy Liu, Miranda Otto, and Frances O'Connor) by the easy friendship they forged from the start. "None of us knew each other [at first], but we did spend a lot of time together in New York when we shot the pilot...and when we were shooting the series," she explained. "We definitely had a lot of days where we would get in trouble for laughing too much, which I think is a key thing if you're going to play best friends. We'd go shopping and do stuff like that together."

Somerville ruefully spoke of those fun times in the past tense, as the show's production was halted due to the ongoing writers' strike. "We were just in the middle...I mean, you're just finding out what Juliet decides to do [about a potential adulterous affair]. Zoe has a conflict in her marriage, with her work. There's definitely a cliffhanger with my character as far as the whole sex thing--like, 'what team am I choosing' sort of thing. And then it was like, 'Pens down, everybody...pens down.' That was it. We were done."

Caitlin's struggle to "choose a team" is crucial to the development of her character, and Somerville seems committed to playing her part as faithfully as possible.

"My character is based on Sally Susman, who is one of the heads of Estee Lauder Corporation. And I met her and I actually presented her with an award, and she is an openly gay woman executive in the cosmetics industry. So I talked to her for a really long time, and she's one of the most incredible people I've ever met. So I definitely got to know her a little bit."

Fans hope to see much more of Somerville when the strike is finally resolved, and some worry that competition from the new show Lipstick Jungle--also a Sex and the City-ish tale of a small band of powerful women in Manhattan--will edge Cashmere Mafia off of the airwaves. But the Cashmere cast has no mind for such fears.

"We've never really talked about that," Somerville confidently stated. "I think most people want to pit us against that show, but it certainly was not an issue for us. I don't think we ever were worried about that."

Cashmere Mafia airs on ABC Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m., and you can catch two more new episodes before the show goes on strike-induced hiatus. Cross your fingers for a resolution and let TV.com keep you aware and informed.

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