×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Listen: Eva Longoria on How ‘Desperate Housewives’ Changed TV and Made Her a Better Producer

Eva Longoria still believes “Desperate Housewives” may have been TV’s “perfect pilot.”

“It has everything, it sets up everything,” Longoria told Variety‘s “My Favorite Podcast.” “It’s super balanced in its storytelling. It was beautiful, it was stylized, it was stylistic and was so unique.”

Longoria credits creator Marc Cherry, who spent years developing and pitching “Desperate Housewives,” and pilot director Charles McDougall for creating a show that made a splash right out of the gate. For her, the “Desperate Housewives” pilot was a masterclass in how to create and launch a TV show, and she says she still uses what she learned from that experience as a producer launching her own shows.

“I always reference back to the ‘Desperate Housewives’ pilot for many things when I’m directing,” Longoria said. “There are so many iconic things that happened in the pilot.”

On this edition of the podcast, Longoria revealed why that pilot is her favorite episode of TV ever, and also discussed the new ABC drama “Grand Hotel,” which she executive produces. Plus, “Grand Hotel” star Roselyn Sanchez also revealed her favorite TV episode: the pilot to Lifetime’s (and now Netflix’s) drama “You.” Listen below:

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Snap Stills/Shutterstock (2103329h)Left To Right: Nicollette Sheridan - Edie Britt, Felicity Huffman - Lynette Scavo, Marcia Cross - Bree Van De Kamp, Eva Longoria - Gabrielle Solis, Teri Hatcher - Susan MayerDesperate Housewives - 2004
CREDIT: Snap Stills/Shutterstock

The pilot to “Desperate Housewives,” the mid-2000s hit that put Longoria on the map, premiered on Oct. 3, 2004.

The episode introduced viewers to the neighbors of Wisteria Lane, and took place in the aftermath of the suicide of Mary Alice Young, voiced by Brenda Strong. Among the stars are Teri Hatcher, as single mom Susan Mayer; Marcia Cross as perfectionist Bree Van de Kamp, whose poise hides trouble at home; Longoria as Gabrielle Solis, who has a secret (she’s carrying on an affair with her teenage gardener); and Felicity Huffman as Lynette Scavo, an advertising exec who put her career on hold to be a stay-at-home mother of four.

The pilot episode won three Emmy Awards: outstanding lead actress in a comedy series (Huffman), outstanding directing for a comedy series (McDougall) and outstanding single-camera picture editing for a comedy series (Michael Berenbaum). Marc Cherry was nominated for outstanding writing for a comedy series.

“ABC was in last place, and every network passed on ‘Desperate Housewives,” recalled Longoria, who was the first person cast on the pilot thanks to a talent holding deal she had with the network. “ABC was like, what do we have to lose?”

That was quite a turnaround season for ABC, as “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Grey’s Anatomy” all premiered in the same year.

“Desperate Housewives” was an immediate hit. “I remember we premiered and the next morning, we were working,” Longoria recalled. “I got a call from the producers — ‘we’re a hit!’ So what does that mean? I didn’t comprehend the monstrosity of it.”

Longoria credits Cherry for teaching her that “you and your director have to be on the same page in terms of setting up the tone of the show. [‘Desperate Housewives’] nailed this tone that was eerie but funny but serious and dramatic but light. That was Marc Cherry. He had a very specific idea.”

Roselyn Sanchez, Eva LongoriaEva Longoria Foundation dinner gala, Inside, Los Angeles, USA - 08 Nov 2018
CREDIT: MediaPunch/Shutterstock

As for “Grand Hotel,” Longoria directed the show’s second episode and also makes an appearance on camera. Sanchez (above, with Longoria) stars as Gigi Mendoza, the second wife to hotel mogul Santiago Mendoza, played by Demian Bichir. Based on a Spanish format but set in contemporary times, the show is a bit of an upstairs/downstairs look at the scandals and secrets that surround both the Mendoza family and the staff that works for them.

“We shot the pilot in Miami and re-created it in Los Angeles: the blue skies look of the show,” Longoria said. The executive producer said she’s also proud of putting so many women in top production roles on the show, including a female director of photography, stunt coordinator, editors, assistant directors and more.

“We wanted to put women in traditionally male roles,” she said.

GRAND HOTEL - ABC's 'Grand Hotel' stars Denyse Tontz as Alicia Mendoza, Bryan Craig as Javi Mendoza, Demi‡n Bichir as Santiago Mendoza, Roselyn S‡nchez as Gigi Mendoza, Justina Adorno as Yoli, and Feliz Ramirez as Carolina. (ABC/Ed Herrera)
CREDIT: ABC

Variety‘s “My Favorite Episode With Michael Schneider” is where stars and producers gather to discuss their favorite TV episodes ever — from classic sitcoms to modern-day dramas — as well as pick a favorite episode from their own series. On “My Favorite Episode,” some of the biggest names in TV share their creative inspirations — and how those episodes influenced them.

Be sure to subscribe to “My Favorite Episode” on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, Soundcloud or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post every week. 

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • first wives club BET

    TV Review: 'The First Wives Club' on BET Plus

    Launching a series based on a beloved property is harder than it seems. On the one hand, you get the immediate boost of name recognition to lure in preexisting fans. On the other, straying too far from the plot and/or spirit of the original risks sparking their righteous wrath. It’s a tricky balance to strike, [...]

  • Thomas Golubic8th Annual Guild of Music

    Guild of Music Supervisors President: 'The Economics of the Job Don't Work Anymore'

    The Guild of Music Supervisors (GMS) hosted its 5th annual “State of Music in Media” conference on Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Los Angeles Film School. Featuring a wide array of panel discussions on all manner of issues related to music in film, television and advertising, the confab drew top composers, music supervisors, licensing and [...]

  • Christopher Eccleston Anorexia

    Christopher Eccleston Reveals He Was 'Very Ill' With Anorexia While Filming 'Doctor Who'

    “Doctor Who” actor Christopher Eccleston has opened up about his anorexia, body dysmorphia and suicidal thoughts. Eccleston, who played the ninth incarnation of the Doctor, made the revelations in his forthcoming autobiography “I Love the Bones of You: My Father and the Making of Me.” “Many times I’ve wanted to reveal that I’m a lifelong [...]

  • Justin Theroux Mute

    'Mosquito Coast' Series Starring Justin Theroux Set at Apple

    Apple has ordered an adaptation of “The Mosquito Coast” to series, Variety has learned. Justin Theroux will star in the series, which is based on the novel by his uncle Paul Theroux. The story follows an idealist who uproots his family and moves them to Latin America. Neil Cross is adapting the book for television [...]

  • 'Big Mouth' presentation, Paleyfest, Panel

    TV News Roundup: Jenny Slate's Netflix Comedy Special Sets October Premiere

    In today’s TV news roundup, Jenny Slate’s first Netflix comedy special “Stage Fright” premieres Oct. 22, and Netflix also releases the first trailer for its upcoming comedy “Living with Yourself,” out Oct. 18.  DATES Jenny Slate‘s first full-length comedy special “Stage Fright” will launch on Netflix Oct. 22. In it, the comedian and actress shares [...]

  • Shane Gillis SNL

    Shane Gillis Out From 'Saturday Night Live'

    “Saturday Night Live” is officially cutting ties with Shane Gillis. “After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining ‘SNL,'” an “SNL” spokesperson on behalf of Lorne Michaels said in a statement. “We want SNL to have a variety of voices and points of view within the show, and we [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content