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Alumna Elliott stars on 'Drop Dead Diva'

July 29, 2009

KALAMAZOO--A music theatre performance graduate of Western Michigan University is continuing to make waves on stage and now on television by landing a leading role on the new series "Drop Dead Diva" on Lifetime Television.

Brooke Elliott stars as Jane on the series, which premiered on Sunday, July 12. With the new role, Elliott continues an active and successful acting career since leaving WMU in 1998.

In the series, Elliott stars alongside comedian Margaret Cho. Elliott has had an extensive on-stage career, having been on Broadway in "The Pirate Queen" and "Taboo," as well as in the national tours of "Wicked" and "Beauty and the Beast," among others. Film credits include "What Women Want" and "Liar's Club." She also performed as a co-star on NBC's "Law & Order: Trial By Jury."

On "Diva," Elliot plays Jane Bingum, a woman who ends up with a model's spirit inside her body after a car crash. The model's immediate reaction is disgust at Jane's full figure, but that changes over time.

The show's premise is part of a trend in several new shows that celebrate curves rather than focus on the drawbacks of being overweight. "Diva," along with Fox's "More to Love" and TLC's recently announced "One Big Happy Family" each features a character or cast their creators say are reflective of the society that's watching them, without the judges, giant scales or eliminations of reality shows focused on losing weight.

"This show isn't about losing weight--it's about gaining confidence," the show's creator, Josh Berman, told the New York Daily News. "Until now, the message that television and film have given to viewers is, 'If you care about your figure, go on a diet, start exercising and you can have a magical makeover.' It's really not that easy for most people, and the reality of weight loss for a character like Jane is that she will struggle with it." In the first few episodes, the show does focus on weight, because that's what a skinny model would focus on.

"But as the series goes on, the weight issues will drop into the background," Berman says. "Jane is a fully developed character and her weight is just one aspect of her."

"Drop Dead Diva" can be seen on Lifetime at 9 p.m. Sundays.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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