The new political series from Emmy-winning writer/producer Lawrence O'Donnell, Jr. chronicles the struggles of young Senator William Sterling Jr. (Brolin), who is thrust into the position after the Senior Senator of California dies. McDonald portrays his chief of staff, Jackie Brock; others in the premiere episode include Bob Gunton, the state's current governor; William Russ as Tommy Doyle; David Noroña as the resident techno-wiz; and James Whitmore as the former California Governor, William Sterling, Sr.
In the Jan. 11 issue of TV Guide, McDonald spoke to writer Joanne Kaufman about the show and her ever-clowning co-star, Josh Brolin. Says McDonald: "When we started shooting, Josh said to me, 'My kids and I went to Blockbuster last night and rented 'Tonys' Greatest Moments' and we saw your three acceptance speeches. And my daughter was so moved that she cried.' He's always busting my chops like that. I've never clicked with someone as completely as with him."
In the same article, creator O'Donnell recalls McDonald's triumphant audition: "When she read for me I saw things in the script I didn't know were there. She has incredible strength and power in everything she does. Only after I saw Audra do it [did] I realize how much the character needs that."
A three-time Tony Award winner for her work in Master Class, Carousel and Ragtime, Audra McDonald was most recently on Broadway in the title role of Marie Christine. The singer-actress recently made her solo Carnegie Hall concert debut in an evening of songs scored for big bands, performing several tunes from her Nonesuch CD "Happy Songs." McDonald's other solo recordings, "Way Back to Paradise" and "How Glory Goes," are also on the Nonesuch label.
"Mister Sterling" airs 8-9 PM ET on NBC. Check local listings.