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TCA Press Tour: Laura Linney will make you laugh -- and cry -- in 'The Big C'

July 29, 2010 | 11:46 am

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Showtime is hoping to shed a comedic light on an unfunny matter: cancer.

In “The Big C,” set to air in the fall, Laura Linney stars as Cathy, an uptight Minneapolis schoolteacher who is diagnosed with terminal cancer and decides, as she is dying, to start living.

Linney, who also serves as executive producer, says the show is less about the subject of dying than viewers might think.

“When this script came to me, what hit me the most was the theme of time. What do you do with time, what are the choices that we make and how do we spend it,” she said. “That’s something that I think a lot of people have forgotten in the fast-paced world where youth is overly celebrated. More than anything else, it's more about time.”

The show costars Oliver Platt as Cathy’s “emotionally immature” husband and Gabourey Sidibe as Andrea, her mean and snotty student.

Sidibe is still adjusting to stardom after her Academy Award-nominated performance in “Precious.”

“It’s been a strange year,” she said, laughing, during the press tour. “I thought I’d be a receptionist. Being an actress wasn’t the plan at all -- it goes to show that whatever plan you have for your life, you’re wrong.”

Like Linney, Sidibe pointed to the story as what sold her on the show.

“The pilot I thought it was really smart. The way the writers handled the delicacy of this woman’s life is so endearing and so smart, I wanted to be a part of it,” she said. “And of course I don’t turn my nose up at Laura Linney, who is just amazing.”

The show's lead character was faced with impending death, executive producer Jenny Bicks said, but they were in no rush to see that character die. But with each season of the show representing a season of the year, six TV seasons will only amount to roughly 18 months of Cathy’s life.

“We want to be truthful about the disease. She has Stage 4 melanoma. There’s a truth to how much you live,” Bicks said. "We don’t think in terms of when" the character might die. "If it comes time [that] she goes, she goes.”

If you can't wait until the premiere on Aug. 16, Showtime is offering viewers the first episode in full, which you can find below.

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy

twitter.com/gerrickkennedy

Photo: Showtime

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