On the noisy street across from Manhattan's Pennsylvania Station, a hotel best known for hosting the kennel club show dogs and their minders, is perpetually crowded. But off a side hallway, up a creaky elevator and down a warren of hallways, a hush falls as a sitcom comes to life.
Here, Sherri Shepherd, the host on "The View" who was unsure of the Earth's shape, sees her life take shape as a comedy. The Lifetime series "Sherri" launches Monday, Oct. 5, and runs through Friday this week before assuming its usual time slot the following Tuesday.
Shepherd wrote the pilot years ago and let it go when no one seemed interested. Relaxing in her lavender dressing room, she says, "When you have dreamed of this for over two decades and always dreamed of the cast," her voice trails off and she shakes her curls, not finishing that sentence but beaming.
So many people think their lives are the fodder of sitcoms, and Shepherd proves that out of tragedy can come comedy. Shepherd was married for six years, with the man for five years before that, and they had a son, now 4.
Shepherd's husband took up with a younger woman, a sandwich maker. "The Quiz-hoe" is how she's referred to on the show, a play on Quiznos. Malcolm-Jamal Warner, best known as Theo on "The Cosby Show," plays Kevin, her ex-husband.
"It feels like a good show," he says, perching on a director's chair. "So far, it's really funny. I've read three of the scripts."
"This is the first time anyone bent over backward to make a deal with me, to come here and read scripts," he says.
His character has an Internet company, and Sherri plays a legal secretary who's also an actress and stand-up comic. Shepherd worked as a legal secretary for 14 years, until 1999. Every so often, the women from the office would have a night out.
On one of those nights, at the Comedy Store, "I was making everyone laugh when Andrew Dice Clay was on," she says. "That's when the seed was planted."
When life hands her lemons, Sherri Shepherd makes a sitcom
Sherri Shepherd stars in "Sherri," which premieres Monday on Lifetime.
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