EXCLUSIVE: The CW’s upcoming Katy Keene is once again expanding its family: Broadway legend Bernadette Peters has been cast as a mother figure to Julia Chan’s Pepper Smith, one of Katy’s close friends and inner circle.
Peters will play “Ms. Freesia,” described as “Pepper Smith’s eccentrically elegant surrogate mother and mentor” who “taught Pepper in the art of the con.” What’s more, “Ms. Freesia” is “a wealthy Upper East sider who secured her luxurious lifestyle through cunning means and is actively forming Pepper in her fabulous image.”
Chan’s Pepper is the name-dropping “It Girl” of Katy’s inner circle of friends. She’s the type who is always in the right place at the right time, knows all the hip people and is a sort of link between Katy’s gang and the red-velvet-rope crowd.
At the recent Tribeca TV Festival following a screening of the Katy Keene pilot episode, Chan said the series would quickly establish a bit more of Pepper’s background and personal story. Perhaps Peters’ “Ms. Freesia” provides the critical link.
Peters is a two-time Tony-winning actress (Song and Dance, 1986, and Annie Get Your Gun, 1999), and has been nominated a total of seven times, most recently in 2011 for Follies. Recent TV credits include The Good Fight, Mozart in the Jungle, Smash and Ugly Betty.
Peters’ casting is the show’s second announced hiring in recent weeks to fill a parental generation character of a show that generally focuses on Katy and her youthful pals as they work and dream to make it in big-city New York. Last month, as reported exclusively by Deadline, the series announced that Daphne Rubin-Vega – like Peters, an actress with a major Broadway fan base – would recur as Luisa, the mother of Katy’s friend Jorge/Ginger (played by Jonny Beauchamp), an aspiring, ever-auditioning Broadway performer by day and drag star by night.
Katy Keene is the CW’s Riverdale off-shoot starring Lucy Hale in the title role, set for a 2020 midseason winter arrival. A specific premiere date hasn’t been announced.
Here’s the official Katy Keene trailer released in August. No Peters or Rubin-Vega, of course, but the footage gives a good sense of the mood and tone of the Riverdale spin-off.