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CBS drama leaps off the cliff and the cast is loving it

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Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) is showing her tough side on this season of The Good Wife.

EIKE SCHROTER/CBS Enlarge Image

Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) is showing her tough side on this season of The Good Wife.

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- The Good Wife just got good and nasty.

Last Sunday's episode, aptly titled Hitting the Fan, basically blew up the series (which airs Sunday nights on Global and CBS). If you haven't seen it yet and it is sitting in your PVR, skip the next paragraph.

Will (Josh Charles) learns of the plan by Alicia (Julianna Margulies) and Cary (Matt Czuchry) to leave Lockhart Gardner and take half the clients with them. Hurt by this betrayal by his old friend and former lover, Will acts swiftly to have Alicia, Cary and several associates thrown out of the law office and a vicious tug-of-war over clients ensues. Lawyers fight lawyers in court and even Alicia's reconciled husband, newly elected Illinois governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), gets into the act, killing plans to make senior law partner Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) a Supreme Court judge.

"It feels like it can never go back," said Noth, one of several main cast members who met with reporters at a press conference near the series' Brooklyn, N.Y., sound stages.

"It's brave of them to do it," he continued, referring to the series' husband-and-wife co-creators Robert King and Michelle King.

Margulies said her character is now in full "warrior mode." It's a complete transformation from how Alicia began on the series, rocked by her husband's infidelities and stumbling back into the workforce.

"She's always been a dedicated lawyer and an incredibly smart, well-thought-out human being," said Margulies, wearing a floor-length crimson overcoat atop a jet-black dress. New Alicia now mirrors ruthless and ambitious Will, "and that's going to be incredibly fun to watch on the show."

Now that Alicia and Will are on opposite teams, "they both realize they are made of the same cloth and she learned from the best," said Margulies. She said this new competition "strangely has taken on a sexier feel than a love scene. Each can read the other's mind and they're always one step ahead of each other."

Alan Cumming, who plays Peter Florrick's cunning chief of staff, Eli Gold, said he was shocked when he read the Hitting the Fan script. He's excited by the "upward incline" the series is taking as it moves toward the 100-episode mark in its fifth season.

The 48-year-old Scottish actor, who recently did a one-man Broadway show playing every character in Macbeth, said he's surprised to be playing "a middle-aged man in a suit" at this stage of his career. "Because he's so far away from me it's actually a good thing when I get into 'Eli drag' -- it feels like another person."

He had high praise for his co-stars, singling out Margulies' "calm, great spirit" and calling her "easy to work with."

Noth, he said with affection, "is crazy. He's a bonkers teenage jock trapped in a middle-aged man's body."

The former Mr. Big from Sex and the City did little to erase that notion as he playfully swatted back questions during his fun and frisky press session.

Asked by one reporter how he could "get women not to hate you" after playing a couple of high-profile rogues and cheaters, Noth seemed keen to set the record straight.

"There's a misconception about all my characters," he said. "They're imperfect people and they're conflicted and they're complicated like everybody else. I find the generalization that they're bad to be a little ridiculous."

Noth's character was in part suggested by former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, himself caught in a sex scandal or two.

Margulies conceded that her character risks turning off fans this season with her warrior stance. Up until now, Alicia the single mom has been generally admired for her judgment and character.

How long she stays at her husband's side is anybody's guess. Noth wondered aloud if "anybody really gets over that kind of infidelity." They seemed well past it in one scene on Sunday's episode where Alicia and Peter -- in the midst of all that mayhem -- sneak in a "quickie." As Noth noted, however, the scene was "CBS sex -- that's kind of like holding hands."

Things were much more explicit on HBO's Sex and the City. Noth feels, however, that Mr. Big gets a bad rap, suggesting Carrie got far more action on that series than his character. "Can you count on one hand how many relationships Carrie had in between?" he asked. "Lots!"

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 31, 2013 C6

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Updated on Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 9:56 AM CDT: Changes headline, replaces photo

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