'Drop Dead Diva': Jane Elliott returns in delicious dramedy


The last time we saw attorney Jane Bingum (Brooke Elliott), her world was turning upside down.

Jane, whose plus-size body currently is being occupied by the spirit of a deceased and vapid model named Deb, was facing possible disbarment for breaching attorney-client confidentiality to prevent an act of fraud. The good news was that romantic sparks were starting to fly with Tony Nicastro (guest star David Denman), the handsome attorney representing her. Matters took a surreal turn when yet another hottie, a guy named Ethan (guest star Devon Gummersall), showed up on her doorstep claiming to be Jane's "secret" husband.

Fortunately, in the middle of all this, Jane can still count on her borderline inept guardian angel, Fred (Ben Feldman), along with three humans who have her back: Grayson Kent (Jackson Hurst), Deb's former fiance, who now works with Jane at the law office and feels himself oddly attracted to the woman he doesn't realize is his ex-love in a new body; ditsy Stacy Barrett (April Bowlby, "Two and a Half Men"), Deb's best friend and now Jane's supportive roommate; and Teri Lee (Margaret Cho), Jane's loyal assistant.

Part fantasy, part legal dramedy and part female empowerment message, "Drop Dead Diva" -- which returns for a new season Sunday, June 6, on Lifetime -- was one of last season's brightest success stories, that rare show that opened big, buoyed by strong ratings and even stronger word of mouth, and got even bigger as more and more viewers discovered the show.

Maybe that's why, on a recent April morning, there are no divas anywhere in sight on the humming Peachtree City, Ga., soundstage that is home to the show. Elliott -- the pretty stage-trained actress making her TV series debut in the title role -- takes advantage of a break in filming to sit down for a few minutes in one of the richly appointed "offices" that make up the set.

"In season two, just when Jane thinks she has a handle on things, she doesn't," Elliott reveals. "She keeps being presented with challenge after challenge, and whenever she is going, 'I know how to do this; I'm a lawyer,' she is thrown all these things that make her realize she doesn't 'have' everything the way she thinks she does."

Elliott herself, however, seems to be coping with her newfound stardom just fine, although she admits it's still disconcerting when strangers come up to her because they recognize her from the show.

"A lot of people have been very nice and said how much they like the show," she says. "You have to get used to the fact that you are not completely anonymous. It's both startling and good. You forget, if you happen to be wearing no makeup and some jogging pants and head to the store, and people recognize you and want to talk to you about what you are buying. But it's also really great when people just want to tell you how much they really like your show. Who can not love that?"

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