The Sunday Conversation
With Dana Delany of 'Desperate Housewives'

It's all about the timing for the former 'China Beach' star.

By Denise Martin / November 08, 2009
It feels like it's finally Dana Delany's time. The actress had several near brushes with TV superstardom after her Emmy-winning run as Nurse Colleen McMurphy on "China Beach" ended.

Mike White, who wrote the hit "School of Rock," cast her as the uptight matriarch on Fox's critically beloved but short-lived dysfunctional family drama "Pasadena," Darren Star originally asked her to star in "Sex and the City" and Marc Cherry first offered her the role of Bree on "Desperate Housewives."

Fortunately for Delany, Cherry came back around and she stepped into Katherine Mayfair's well-kept shoes two seasons ago.
Desperate Housewives/ABC
— Marc Cherry said that originally Mike was going to marry Katherine in the season opener. Obviously, that did not happen. How did he let you down?
— It wasn't until a week before we started shooting. He called me at home and said, "I should probably tell you that Susan is marrying Mike." So I said, "Oooh, OK. . . . " Then he said that Katherine would have a nervous breakdown, and I said, "Oh, OK! Much better!" Because happiness is great in life, but it's kind of boring dramatically.

— What would have happened had Mike chosen Katherine?
— Mike would still be pining away for Susan. Marc always said that the last episode of the final season would be Mike and Susan getting married, but I think he realized that we played that card last season. I thought it was brilliant that he switched it around.

— But does it make sense for Katherine to be spinning out of control? Lying to herself, stalking Mike. . . . They killed Edie, but why should Katherine morph into the person the housewives have to hate?
— I think that there's a certain, almost like a Greek formula to this show where you have the four housewives and you have someone circling them causing problems. That was Edie's job, now it's Katherine's. But I also think Katherine is so different from Edie, and I don't think we're going to lose her or her complexity. Katherine's very clever.

— Andy Richter beat both you and Wolf Blitzer in a recent "Celebrity Jeopardy" match. You were formidable but Blitzer wound up in the red. What happened?
— Andy trounced us both, but I really feel like I need to defend poor Wolf. He really took a rap for that. It really is about the buzzer.

— Oh, come on.
— I know it's a cliche, but it really is. You do a rehearsal before the show, and I was neck and neck with Andy, he was like half a millisecond ahead of me on the buzzer. They have a machine that gauges it and Wolf just couldn't get it.

— You were named one of People magazine's 50 most beautiful people in 1991. What does that title get you?
— Not much! Really, not much. I was so busy working on "China Beach" that I didn't really have time to think about it.

— Remind me why you first turned a role on "Desperate Housewives" down.
— Marc had offered me the role of Bree, but I had just done "Pasadena" and I thought the role was too similar to that and I don't really like to repeat myself. I've never ever been in this for the money. I just like to do what challenges me. Thankfully, Marc circled back. That's unusual in Hollywood. Usually when you say "no" they hold it against you for the rest of your career. I've experienced that.

— Do you know why he circled back?
— He said I was sly, and that I got the slyness of the show. Which is nice. I think. I think that's a nice thing to be told.

— The demise of "Pasadena" still hurts, I must say.
— It was just the worst timing. Fox's two new big shows at that time were "24" and "Pasadena." But when 9/11 happened all the money went to "24" because it's a show about anti-terrorism and no one thought the country wanted to see a show about a dark dysfunctional family at that point.

— You also turned down the role of Carrie in "Sex and the City."
— Oh God, I'd hate to be thought of as the person who turns everything down. I should clarify this one: I had done a movie called "Live Nude Girls" with Kim Cattrall that was somewhat similar. It was women sitting around talking about sex. Darren Star was a friend of mine and he had joined up with Candace Bushnell and came up with this idea and he asked if I'd be in it. It was very much in the early stages, and I had just done "Nude Girls" and "Exit to Eden" and I just said to Darren, "I cannot do a show with 'sex' in the title." People will lynch me if I do one more thing about sex.
Credit to Los Angeles Times.