Not My Job: 'Good Fight' Star Christine Baranski Gets Quizzed On 'Good Sprite'
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
And now it's time for the game where we call up a person in their home and make them play our games because we know, finally, they have nothing better to do. It's called Not My Job.
Our guest today rocketed to international fame by starring in one of the highest-grossing, most beloved movie franchises of all time. No, not "The Avengers" or "Star Wars" - I'm talking about the "Mamma Mia!" cinematic universe. Tony- and Emmy-winning actor Christine Baranski starred in both "Mamma Mia!" movies. She now stars in "The Good Fight" on CBS All Access. It just began its fourth season.
Christine Baranski, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)
CHRISTINE BARANSKI: Oh, it's such a pleasure to be on the show. Thank you.
SAGAL: Thank you so much for joining us. Where are we finding you? Where are you sheltering in place?
BARANSKI: I am in a back office at my country home in Connecticut, in northwestern Connecticut.
BARANSKI: It's a house on a lake. I'm actually talking on a landline...
BARANSKI: ...An old-fashioned landline.
SAGAL: And who are you stuck at home with?
BARANSKI: Stuck is an interesting word. I'm blissfully with my (laughter) - but also stuck, blissfully stuck with three little grandsons, my daughter and son-in-law.
SAGAL: This is, like, a grandma's dream, isn't it - to have your grandchildren with you, and they're not allowed to leave?
BARANSKI: It's true. I can get my imprint on them and...
BARANSKI: ...Try to convince them, you know, of things like listening to Bach, you know, before bed is the most wonderful thing you could possibly do - or, you know, just, you know, planting seeds. And today, we baked a cake.
AMY DICKINSON: I think I - this is Amy. I think I read once that you never had a television in your home. Is that right?
BARANSKI: Yes. We took the television set out when they were little because it became clear that we couldn't monitor what they were watching. So we just - I remember taking the television out physically. It was that small. And I put it in a barn across the road and covered it with a blanket (laughter).
SAGAL: Wait a minute - but your TV career started in the '80s, right? So weren't - I mean, your kids weren't even allowed to watch...
SAGAL: ...You on TV?
BARANSKI: I - no, they didn't watch me. No. No. They didn't need to watch me. I played a vindictive, alcoholic divorcee, so it's not stuff...
JOEL KIM BOOSTER: Kids love that stuff.
BARANSKI: ...They need to see mommy do.
BOOSTER: Christine, this is Joel. I'm a gay person speaking to you. And as a young gay child, I did watch you on television in that show, and I did idolize you from a very young age for that. So I would like to say...
BOOSTER: ...That I think you robbed your children of something very special by not letting them watch it at that formative age because it really shaped me.
SAGAL: Yeah, and a college education does not make up for that.
BARANSKI: I wanted to be their mom. You know, I just wanted to be a wife and mom and not larger than life. I mean...
BOOSTER: That's so wild because I also wanted you to be my mom.
SAGAL: Speaking of your country house, we - there's this rumor that even got to us - and we don't know anything - that your lake house is famous for its skinny-dipping. Is that true?
BARANSKI: Oh, gosh. This story will not die.
BARANSKI: It will not die. So why - let's just revive it yet again. I've had very famous actors on my dock late at night either skinny-dipping or just - you know, I have a nice fire pit that we have, and we light fires and sing under the stars. And I've had very famous - I'm not going to be a name-dropper, but...
SAGAL: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Christine.
BARANSKI: ...Some of the greatest actors in the world.
BARANSKI: I can name...
SAGAL: Damn your integrity.
BARANSKI: But I'm not going to accuse them of nudity.
DICKINSON: So, Christine, is this why - is this a clue as to why you and Meryl Streep and Audra McDonald were all in bathrobes at the Sondheim tribute?
SAGAL: Oh, thank you for bringing that up, Amy.
BARANSKI: Meryl Streep was one of the people on my dock. I, you know, know she was fully clothed when she has visited. I will say that.
SAGAL: Wait a minute. We should just remind everybody that there was this wonderful online tribute to Stephen Sondheim last weekend, and I think we can all agree the highlight of a really remarkable evening of performing was you along with Meryl Streep and Audra McDonald doing a trio version of the great "The Ladies Who Lunch" from "Company." And as Amy pointed out, you all did it at home in your bathrobes. So how did that come to be?
BARANSKI: I'm sitting at the very desk where I recorded my section of the music. And I could only record it late at night, when my little grandsons were sleeping. But...
BARANSKI: It's a song that requires some full-out belting.
SAGAL: I was about to say - I mean, I just imagine...
SAGAL: ...Your little grandchild getting up and going, grandma, would you stop belting? I'm trying to sleep.
BARANSKI: Well, this is - I'm not kidding. This is what it sounded like. Let me try and do it. (Singing) Another reason not to move, another vodka stinger - I'll drink to that.
BARANSKI: It's scripted that it's a rage. It's a primal, alcoholic rage scream. That's what you have to produce. So imagine me in front of my cell phone trying not to wake up my lovely grandchildren, who could have been traumatized hearing grandma have some sort of, you know, quarantine meltdown.
DICKINSON: Oh, geez.
BOOSTER: That was literally gay Make a Wish, Christine. That was...
BOOSTER: I just can't even describe...
SAGAL: Well, Christine Baranski, it is a pleasure to talk to you. And since you...
BARANSKI: Oh, my God. I'm such a huge fan of this show. This is such fun.
SAGAL: Well, let's see how you feel after this. You star in "The Good Fight," so we've asked you here to play a game we're calling...
BILL KURTIS: The Good Sprite.
SAGAL: That's right. We're going to ask you three questions about the good Sprite - that is, 7 Up. Answer two of them correctly, and you'll win our prize for one of our listeners - the voice of anyone they may choose for their voicemail. Bill, who is Christine Baranski playing for?
KURTIS: Jared Rennie (ph) of Asheville, N.C.
SAGAL: All right. You ready to do this?
BARANSKI: The good Sprite, huh?
SAGAL: Yes. I did warn you that it would be stupid.
SAGAL: So here we go, Christine.
SAGAL: Here's your first question.
BARANSKI: Here we go.
SAGAL: 7 Up's popularity is probably in part thanks to its original name. What was 7 Up first marketed as when it was introduced to the market way back when? Was it, A, Bib-label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda; B, Carbonated Citrus Vim Restorer; or C, Crack?
BARANSKI: They all sound utterly ludicrous.
BARANSKI: Why don't I go with Crack? I'll just go with Crack.
SAGAL: You're going to go with Crack...
SAGAL: ...Always a fine choice. In games, in life, go with crack. But no, the answer was Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda - Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda. The lithiated in that referred to its key ingredient back then, which is lithium. That's the same medicine they give to people with bipolar disorder.
SAGAL: Good and good for you. All right. You still have two more chances. Here's your next question. 7 Up has many popular varieties, like Cherry 7 Up. But not all the new varieties made it, like which of these? A, Chocolate 7 Up; B, 7 Up with Old Bay seasoning; or C, 7 Up Upside Down. Instead of lemon-lime flavor, it was lime-lemon flavor.
BARANSKI: Old Bay (laughter).
DICKINSON: Old Bay (laughter). Choose that.
BARANSKI: I didn't realize it would be this stupid.
SAGAL: I thought you were a fan of the show.
SAGAL: You're going to go with C. That's right, Christine.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: They tried selling 7 Up Upside Down. Instead of lemon-lime, it was lime-lemon, and who knows what the difference is?
SAGAL: All right. Here's your last question. You get this, you win. In the 1950s, a 7 Up ad campaign recommended that drinkers of the soda do what? Was it, A, sign, a, quote, "loyalty oath" to 7 Up rather than communist vodka; B, dip cigarettes in it for that, quote, "lemon-lime tobacco flavor"...
SAGAL: ...Or C, mix it with milk and give it to infants?
BARANSKI: Good God.
BARANSKI: Would you give me A again?
SAGAL: I'll give you A - sign a, quote, "loyalty oath" to 7 Up rather than communist vodka.
BARANSKI: I'll go with that.
SAGAL: You're going to go...
BARANSKI: Another vodka stinger.
SAGAL: Another vodka...
SAGAL: This could be another vodka stinger.
SAGAL: No, I'm afraid the answer was C - mix it with milk and give it to infants.
BARANSKI: ...My God.
SAGAL: I know. In the words of the ad campaign, 7 Up is so pure, so wholesome you can even give it to babies and feel good about it. Bill...
SAGAL: ...How did Christine Baranski do on our quiz?
KURTIS: Well, technically, Christine only got one right. But...
KURTIS: You played it so well that we're going to make you a winner in this game, Christine. Have another vodka.
SAGAL: I think...
SAGAL: I think we should give her a point just for the singing - just for singing.
SAGAL: Christine, thank you so much for playing. It is so delightful to talk to you. Christine Baranski is an award-winning actor and performer. She is the star of "The Good Fight," streaming now on CBS All Access. Christine Baranski, what an absolute joy to talk to you. Thank you so much for joining us.
BARANSKI: Oh, my God. It was so much fun. Thank you for having me, guys. Thank you so much.
BOOSTER: Thank you, Christine.
SAGAL: Thank you, Christine. Bye-bye.
BARANSKI: Bye (laughter).
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DOES YOUR MOTHER KNOW")
BARANSKI: (Singing) You're so hot, teasing me. So you're blue, but I can't take a chance on a kid like you. It's something I couldn't do. There's that look in your...
SAGAL: In just a minute, Bill lifts our spirits and our foreheads in the Listener Limerick Challenge. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to join us on the air. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.