Plastic-surgery queen to make cameo

Joan Rivers takes role on `Nip/Tuck' season finale

August 23, 2004|By Gail Shister | Gail Shister,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

Can we cut?

In a stroke of master casting, funny fashionista Joan Rivers will play herself in the season finale of Nip/Tuck, FX's hit drama about a booming plastic-surgery practice in Miami. It runs Oct. 5.

"This is like John Gotti being on The Sopranos," says creator-executive producer Ryan Murphy. "It's the ultimate typecasting and the ultimate hot-button discussion topic."

In the story line, Rivers, 71, who has done riffs on her many nips and tucks, goes to Drs. Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) and Christian Troy (Julian McMahon) on the down-low to avoid the New York media.

She proposes "the mother of all plastic-surgery operations," Murphy says. No details, but an FX insider says it's a procedure that Rivers has never had done.

Rivers shoots her three scenes this week.

Since Nip/Tuck launched last season, "people have said to me, `When are you going to have Joan on?'" says Murphy.

Rivers "really helped make plastic surgery a discussion point in American culture," Murphy adds. "Before her, the subject was cloaked in secrecy. She was the first to say, `Yeah, I had it. I loved it. So what?'

"In a weird way, when you think of plastic surgery in the zeitgeist, you think of Joan Rivers."

Murphy says he pitched the gig to Rivers on the phone. They met on the red carpet at the Golden Globes in January when she interviewed him and several cast members for her annual telecast on E! Entertainment Television. (Rivers and her daughter, Melissa, joined TV Guide Channel in June.)

"I knew she liked the show," Murphy says. "I pitched her the idea. She was silent for 10 seconds, then she said, `It's brilliant.' She was in. It's a smart part, and she's smart to do it."

Though she's made her career in comedy, Rivers has drama chops, too.

She won a Tony nomination for her role in 1994 as Lenny Bruce's mother in Broadway's Sally Marr ... and Her Escorts. She also co-authored the script.

The Nip/Tuck role "is not camp, it's not comedy," says Murphy. "But it's Joan, so of course it's funny, too."

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