‘Madam Secretary’ Producers Talk the Benghazi Effect and Hillary Clinton

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TCA 2014: Panel talks current events influences while plugging new CBS drama

The cast and producers of CBS’ upcoming drama “Madam Secretary” appeared at the Television Critics Association press tour at the Beverly Hilton hotel on Thursday and tackled a range of issues, such as how the hearings over the embassy attack in Benghazi played a crucial part in shaping the show.

Executive producer Lori McCreary recalled how the show’s producers were attempting to come up with the central character of the show — which stars Tea Leoni as the secretary of state, and Tim Daly as her husband — when the Benghazi hearings began to dominate the headlines.

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“We started hearing this news cycle about what was happening in our embassies overseas so we started asking ourselves questions. what really happens in those American embassies overseas?” McCreary told reporters during the show’s panel. “And what’s life like for a secretary of state, especially how does that translate overseas, when rights for women are not necessarily the same as they are here? And then there’s an issue of balancing an incredibly heavy workload with a personal life. How do you even plan a single moment of your life — a baseball game — when at any minute you could be dealing with rocket attacks in Israel, a military coup in Pakistan, and a border crisis with Mexico? And somehow, that’s all before lunch.

“So that’s when we decided to do a show about a secretary of state, and in particular a female secretary of state,” McCreary said.

One current event that the “Madam Secretary” producers don’t seem particularly interested in broaching: Whether former secretary of state Hillary Clinton will run for president. Asked whether there was any talk about possibly titling the show “Madam President,” given the buzz about Clinton’s possible 2016 run for the presidency, executive producer Morgan Freeman was adamant.

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“No,” Freeman insisted. “I mean, none that came past me.”

Freeman was less certain when asked whether he would step in front of the camera to appear on the show.

“One never knows, does one?” Freeman  offered. “Whether or not I show up is going to depend on [creator] Barbara [Hall] and the kind of ideas she comes up with in that smart head of hers.”

Noting that Daly’s character is a religious professor, Morgan cracked that there “may be some place in that for me, because I’ve had experience playing God.”