LADIES’ HOME JOURNAL

There are certain things enormously famous celebrities don’t usually like to be seen doing. Taping their breasts together is one of them. Teri Hatcher, star of the hottest comedy on TV, is in her backstage dressing room at The Tonight Show, sipping a chardonnay from the ‘Jay Bar’, getting her makeup done and her hair curled. And taping her breasts together. “The temporary boob job,” says Hatcher, laughing, as she hoists up her dress and slaps on the tape. Doesn’t it hurt when you rip off the tape?

“Nah”, says Hatcher.

“Teri is a real pro,” says Don, her makeup artist.

In less than an hour, Hatcher will be sitting in the star seat of The Tonight Show, where she will positively dazzle Jay Leno and the millions of viewers who will tune in to see the most endearing, beloved and funniest of the Desperate Housewives. Her character, Susan Mayer, is an inspiration to so many women: a beautiful but flawed divorced mom who struggles every week through yet another hilariously awful situation (stranded naked in the rosebushes? Martha Huber’s ashes thrown in her face?) with her dignity mostly intact. Clumsy, sweet and slightly neurotic, Susan has clearly won the hearts of America.

And so has the woman who plays her.

Hatcher is the ultimate comeback kid, the gorgeously resilient over-40 former has-been. “I couldn’t have been a bigger has-been!” she so honestly put it last year when she won her hard-earned Golden Globe—who emerged from Hollywood oblivion and proved, more than anyone else in the recent past, that even when you think it’s all over . . . maybe it’s not.

We could almost forgive her if she turned into a diva. But Hatcher still acts like the unemployed actress she was just a scant two years ago—BD (Before Desperate)—when she was, in fact, Very Desperate. Enough so that she was considering opening a muffin business. “I used to call my agents and say, ‘I’m getting out of the business, I can’t take it anymore. I’m gonna open a muffin store!’ Yeah.” She laughs. “My specialty was pumpkin-cranberry. I had that one down pretty well. I thought maybe I could be the Mrs. Fields of muffins.”

She almost didn’t make it to the show tonight, because instead of taking the fancy Leno Limo, she drove herself to the studio in her 7-year-old Lexus. “No, really, I’m Teri Hatcher and I’m on the show,” she tried to explain cheerfully to the guards at NBC Studios. Yeah, right. No one drives herself to Leno’s show. “No, really, I’m Teri Hatcher! I’m a guest.” It took more than half an hour for her to be cleared through the gates. (“I sincerely apologize’ Leno would say later”.)

Just as she is straightening her boobs, there’s a knock on the dressing-room door. “What’s going on, doll?” Leno says, entering. He wants her to shoot a skit spoofing the rumors of catfights on the set of Desperate. Sure, why not? says Hatcher. (“It is so not true, and I’m so bored with it” she says later, but for now she gamely agrees.) “So a girl and a guy are on a date,” he continues.

“Is this a joke I’m getting?” asks Hatcher. “Okay, good.”

It is a joke, some sophomoric and incredibly unfunny joke about learning to perform a sex act with a ketchup bottle, delivered by the Master of Comedy. “Oh,” says Hatcher, giggling, sort of, until Leno realizes that she’s in the middle of taping an interview, leans over and pushes the erase button on the tape recorder. “Sorry!” she whispers, as Leno abruptly exits.

We order another roOnd from the Jay Bar and discuss more important things, like love, motherhood and dating.

But first, a word about what Teri Hatcher really looks like without makeup. Let’s put it this way: At 41, she has a 25-inch waist (we checked the tag of herJuicy jeans), is exactly the weight she was in high school—in high school!—and is drop-dead gorgeous even before Don does his magic. Those terribly long eyelashes? “All mine. So far.” That perfect skin? “All I use is Cetaphil, $3.99.” The fabulous mane of hair? Well, okay. There is a big glam hairpiece splayed out on the couch that Don is contemplating weaving into her head for the show. “I bring my hair wherever I go,” she says, laughing.

“Don’t report that,” says Don.

“Oh, why not?” says Hatcher. “Actually, you want to know what’s funny? Honestly? I’m the only girl on the show who doesn’t wear fake hair. But that’s kind of the industry secret.”

“Was,” says Don. And the two of them crack up.

“Where were we?” says Hatcher.

Men.

Oh, that.

Hatcher is positively unapologetic about what’s missing in her otherwise seemingly perfect life. “I totally need a man’ she says. Fortysomething single types aren’t supposed to admit that. Not Teri Hatcher, bless her heart. “Well, I’m not in a relationship and haven’t been on a date in nine months, so clearly I’m not doing very good!” she laughs. Nine months? Teri Hatcher? She must be joking. “Seriously! It’s been oven nine months.

It’s crested into scary. It’s, like, gone from tolerable into nightmarish.”

You really do want a man, don’t you?

“I do. I am ready to not roll over to an empty slot in my bed. And I don’t want to get married. But I want to be monogamous and I want to be with somebody who I can trust and I can, you know, really divulge who I am, and all my secret fabulous mysterious passions, some of them dark and some of them not, and I want to share them with somebody.”

Who gets you.

“Exactly. You know, my part of that journey is exposing myself in a vulnerable way to enough people until I finally find the one that gets it. The hard part of the journey is you have to go through some frogs first, and each frog hurts you a little bit more and makes it a little bit harder to go on to the next frog. And then, people sometimes say, ‘Well, is it because people are intimidated by you? Or is it your celebrity?’ I really think I had this problem way before. I think this is a ‘woman problem’. Though I think it’s probably amplified by being a celebrity. You know, when somebody tries to set me up on a date, I never feel like I’m in the same boat as the other person, because they have a perceived expectation of me. But I don’t know anything about them. And so, it isn’t even ground. And I feel sometimes like I’m disappointing them, or I’m not what they expected. Which is the unfortunate part about being a celebrity. Unless I go someplace where nobody knows me. . .Like maybe the front gate of NBC Studios”.

And it’s not as though she can go on Match.com.

“That I can’t do” she laughs. “Can you imagine that in The National Enquirer? That would be fun.”

So if Teri Hatcher wrote her own personal ad, what would it say? A long pause. “Gosh, well, it would have to have the word ‘desperate’ in it.”

“No!” says Don. You are anything but”.

“It’s a joke!” says Hatcher. But back to the personal ad. Gorgeous famous actress looking for . . . what?

“I don’t know” Hatcher says. “I feel like I know more what I don’t want. I don’t want to have to take care of somebody. I mean, solely. I want him to take care of me. Then as reciprocation to that, I’ll take care of him. But I think in my life, it’s always been me taking care of them first. I don’t mind taking care of the men, but I want them to take care of me, too.”

This is one of the topics Hatcher promises to address in her book, Burnt Toast, due out this spring. The title comes from her tendency to always take the leftovers, the dreck, to not think she is worthy enough for the, well, unburnt toast. This is not a woman you would think would have esteem issues, but who ever is? She is painfully candid about the fact that she didn’t have a happy childhood. Though she’s close to her parents, somehow she never felt good enough, worthy enough. She was an only child who hated being an only child, who felt isolated. As a kid, her working parents gave her a quarter each night to have dinner on the table when they came home from work. “I think I cooked my first Thanksgiving meal at 11″ she recalls. She has trouble trusting people, for reasons she’d rather not elaborate on. She never felt pretty, either. And as a kid anyway, no one ever told her she was.

“So I guess I want someone who’s. . . I don’t know, but they probably won’t be simple. ‘Cause I’m complicated and often weird and adventurous and have a lot of different kinds of qualities. And they would probably have to have that, too. See, I start thinking about this and then I think I’m never gonna meet anybody!”

And how would she describe herself in the ad? “Well,” says Hatcher, “I already told you, like, the bad things. Like having trouble trusting, stuff like that. But, I mean, I think I’m funny and creative and smart and spontaneous”. “And,” she whispers, “sexy. And I think I’m loving and generous.”

She might also add to the personal ad: amazing single mom. Her 8-year-old daughter, Emerson, whom she had with her ex-husband, actor Jon Tenney, is the real love of Hatcher’s life. And on the topic of motherhood, she’s more confident giving advice. Emerson, she says, is a much happier child than she herself was. Together they travel—they are off to Europe in a few days—and ride horseback with Nicollette Sheridan (the Housewife Hatcher is closest to). They go camping in Hatcher’s vintage Volkswagen camper, which she refuses to upgrade. And Hatcher, by all accounts, is the über-mom of her daughter’s school, the mother who makes “300 chocolate lollipop butterflies with gold paint for the PTA 50th anniversary party.”

Emerson goes to a school where kids are encouraged not to watch TV. So Hatcher isn’t her Desperate alter egoSusan Mayer when she shows up with plates of brownies. “To Emerson and all her friends, I’m just Mommy. I mean, believe me, as much as it seems like I’m a celebrity to you, the thing I’m known for is throwing kick-ass children’s birthday parties.” She just did a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory birthday party. “I did a whole wall with that old-fashioned strip dot-candy, so that the kids could go up and lick candy off the wall. I had 20 fake ficus trees, all through the house, like woods, that all had gummy cherries and chocolate Kisses and sour strips and Tootsie Rolls hanging off them, so you could pick your candy and you could eat it.”

She comes up with the ideas herself and does the whole shebang. She is, in many ways, re-creating the childhood she never had. “Like I did this huge Halloween party where I made a 200-yard maze that you had to go through out of bales of hay and corn-stalks. It was in my front yard and all around the pool. I had skeletons, a smoke machine…..”. And all of Emerson’s friends. “And all their parents. That’s the thing about my parties. It’s about the kids and the parents. And the parents always have as much fun, if not more, than their kids.”

When asked what advice she would give single mothers, she doesn’t even blink. “That’s easy: Take care of yourself. At some point you have to become aware that, yes, giving and giving and giving is good. But at the same time, you’re not teaching your child that you are of value also. And it’s okay to take turns. Even with something as simple as, like, music in the car. “I don’t want to listen to Britney Spears right now, I want to listen to Billie Holiday. So it’s my turn for an hour and that’s what we’re gonna do”. I see my friends do this thing, where they have this urge to sort of quell everything. You know, oh, food? Let’s get you food now! Oh, you want to watch a video? Here, let’s put it in! You know what I mean? And I think it’s okay for kids to sit unsatisfied for a while and learn to deal with that feeling. Because as adults, we have to deal with that feeling. And when you grow up and you never have to, then you’re not very prepared for life, are you?”

Hatcher says she always wished she had more kids and would still like to. “I would have never thought that I was only going to have one child,” she says. “Just knowing how much I hated being an only child. But now, I’m in the position where there’s no guy and I’m getting older, so would I adopt or would I have my own kid by myself?” She has thought about this a lot. “I just always think about how awful it would be for that kid—to have one child in the family who had a father and another one who did not. I think it would be brutal.”

Another knock on the dressing-room door signals that it’s showtime.

Live on TV, Hatcher sparkles and dazzles. Leno, too, is mystified by this dateless wonder. “Have you met anybody?” he asks her on the air. “I have not met anyone,” she replies. “What seems to be the problem?” asks Leno. “I mean, you’re attractive?’ “I don’t know’ says Hatcher. “Maybe you’re setting your goals too high,” says Leno. See, this is the problem with being too nice. “I don’t think it’s that” says Hatcher. “I think it’s just maybe you can’t have everything at once. I’ve had such an amazing blessed year. You know, career and work and my daughter. And maybe it’s just too much?’

She still has that Burnt Toast thing going on.

“I want to find somebody that I can have something deeper with,” says Hatcher. Then she realizes where she is and immediately segues into a joke. “I probably shouldn’t use that word!” Huge cheers from the audience. “Teri Hatcher, ladies and gentlemen!”

After the show, Hatcher and I retreat to one of her favorite bars, The Firefly, in Studio City. On the way I ask her what she whispered to Jay Leno at the commercial break. She laughs. There’s a guy she wants to meet—an actor, but she won’t say who—and she knows Leno is friends with him, so she put a bug in his ear.

The Firefly, Hatcher’s joint, is a dark lounge with bookshelves and low lighting. We sit on sofas in the corner. We drink vodka tonics and order mussels. The bar scene is a singles utopia, but Hatcher seems oblivious to the crowd out front. “I’ve been coming here for years” she says, “since way before Desperate Housewives. I was coming when nobody even remembered who I was. And they’d still give me a table?’

We talk more about men and love and disappointment. When was the last time she was in love? “Um, never” she says. And her gorgeous eyes cloud up. She has never been in love? “Not the way I dream about being in love” she replies, her voice catching. “I mean, you know, I put myself out there, so it’s not my fault. And I certainly loved Jon in certain ways. But I can’t say that I have loved anyone or been loved in the way that I fantasize about. When I look at a few of my friends’ relationships, I can’t say that I found ‘That Guy.’ Or that he’s found me”.

Has she been hurt a lot, by men?

“I wouldn’t describe myself as a victim. I mean, I feel like I’ve participated in everything fairly knowingly. So…..”

But did anyone ever totally break her heart?

“Oh, sure! I’ve been cheated on and stuff. Who hasn’t?”

So how does she deal with it?

“Crying is always good,” she says. And then she laughs. “Except for the puffy eyes the day after.”

Later, Hatcher gives a tour of her house. Her kitchen, where she has been known to build enormous homemade gingerbread houses, also has “tomato soup red” cabinets that Hatcher painted herself. The insides are filled with well-used baking paraphernalia. And on the counter over the sink she has part of her enormous collection of salt and pepper shakers. In the living room, the pillows on the couch are huge stuffed candy bars (just a little thing she bought for the last kids’ party and liked so much she kept them there). Upstairs is Emerson’s bedroom and near that is Hatcher’s, where a roaring fire is burning in the fireplace. The bed looks like Romantic Monthly installed it there. The bathroom has two sinks and an enormous tub surrounded by unlit candles. Her vanity table is cluttered with perfume bottles (and a few more salt and pepper shakers).

It’s not the kind of Hollywood home one might expect a big star to live in. It’s warm, cozy and very, well, normal.

Doesn’t the woman ever indulge her inner diva? “I think the diva thing comes from expectations,” Hatcher muses. “That in some way you think you deserve something. And I feel really grateful for every little thing I get. I wonder sometimes where I’d be if it weren’t for the success of the show. I wonder if I would be strong and thoughtful and willing to feel the darkness. I’m fortunate that I don’t have to know. Because I know that getting this gig…….it was one in a million.”

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