Eva Longoria, Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross and Vanessa Williams may be in for a wild ride as they finish out their final season of “Desperate Housewives” — in fact, creator Marc Cherry promised as much when he and the stars met with press recently to talk about the end of the eight-year-old phenomenon. However, there’s one storyline in this crazy last season that’s being handled straight: Mrs. McCluskey will be dealing with lung cancer. The arc has everything to do with actress Kathryn Joosten, who plays the character, and is a two-time survivor of the disease.
“The show knows what my medical condition is. They’re aware of it; it hasn’t interfered with anything,” says Joosten, who won Emmys in ’05 and ’08 for her work on the series. “They came to me and said, ‘What would you think if we did this storyline?’ And I said, ‘Wow, I think it’s a great idea.’ So lung cancer is going to be prominent, and it’s a terrific way to give [the cause] a voice.”
According to her, they’ve already shot some of the scenes, and the
production people and crew “were very supportive. They knew it was a
personal statement for me as well. I was kidding around saying it was practice sessions.” She adds that she and the team “collaborated to some extent on how this might go. The show was eager to get it right. We didn’t want a soap opera-y, non-realistic situation.”
Joosten expects the story to play out over “several episodes near the end, but I don’t know. They don’t tell us anything,” notes the feisty 72-year-old. A long-time activist against lung cancer — which she believes has failed to get the attention it deserves from the public and medical community compared to other forms of the disease — she plans to “play up” this “Desperate Housewives” arc. She’s already involved in a Pfizer campaign to draw attention to new developments in testing for tumor bio-markers that she reports can make enormous differences in lung cancer treatment.
And after “Desperate Housewives” bids farewell? Joosten is already working on a whole new thing. She’s ratcheting up her equestrian know-how by learning how to train a horse, and documenting the whole thing as a TV show, or maybe webisodes. She says she knew that buying her two-year-old mare, Sprite, was the right thing to do when she found out “the lady who was taking care of her in Montana is named Mrs. McCluskey. Can you believe it? That proves the horse is mine.”