Vanity Fair writer Richard Lawson described Allison Janney as the "queen of television" with her seven Primetime Emmys, tying with Ed Asner for the second-most Emmys awarded to a single actor. Cloris Leachman holds the record with eight.
Janney's hit CBS comedy 'Mom' was just renewed for a fifth season, as the actor completes her filming while appearing on Broadway in the first-ever Broadway revival of John Guare's iconic 'Six Degrees of Separation'.
Lawson's Tuesday piece got bested, though, with a great feminist act that caused Janney and 'Mom' co-creator Gemma Baker to take the $250,000 Emmy promo budget for 'Mom' -- and her securing an eighth Emmy to tie Leachman -- and donate it to Planned Parenthood.
“We don’t NOT want to be considered for Emmys,” Janney hastened to explain. “But we decided to use the money instead to support Planned Parenthood.”
News of the 'Mom' campaign came with a May 18 appearance on 'CBS This Morning', joined by Sue Dunlap, President/CEO of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles and support from 'Mom' second co-creator and executive producer Chuck Lorre.
Lorre has been a long-standing benefactor of the Venice (Calif.) Family Clinic, where he established the Robert Levine Family Health Center in his father’s name. Janney's co-star and daughter in 'Mom', Anna Faris supports The Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth, a collaborative, global effort to increase awareness and accelerate innovative research and interventions to improve maternal, newborn and child health outcomes.
Allison Janney, whose first four Emmy wins were for her role as C. J. Cregg on the NBC drama 'The West Wing' comes from generations of women standing for Planned Parenthood. "This organization has been close to me and my family for a long time." Janney explained. Her great-grandmother worked with Margaret Sanger, the pioneering birth-control activist who established what became Planned Parenthood, followed by both her grandmother and her mother, who have also actively supported the organization.
Gathered in Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards’ office in lower Manhattan on June 6 for the check presentation, the three women -- Richards, Janney and Baker -- found they had a lot to talk about, such as why a TV comedy might have shared interests with a health care organization.
“It just made sense,” Baker said. “We have an all-female cast, and it’s what our show does: We deal with serious issues. Our characters have dealt with teen pregnancy and breast cancer and sexual assault. This just seemed like a way of standing with an organization that is providing health care to millions of women.”
“It’s not just about our donation,” Janney added, “but also to raise awareness of what’s happening, and encourage other people to donate as well.”
Richards said, “There’s a lot of anxiety among women right now, particularly in the heartland of America where they are desperately concerned about losing access to affordable health care. I think it’s really great when they see an iconic star like Allison on a program like this dealing with the same issues that we deal with in our clinics every day.”
Starting its fifth season this fall, “Mom” stars Janney as a recovering drug and alcohol addict who has reunited with her long-estranged daughter (co-star Anna Faris), herself a single mother, too, who has battled substance abuse.
“I think for most of the viewers who are hard-core fans of ‘Mom,’ our support of Planned Parenthood will give them all the more reason to watch,” said Janney, who has won two Emmys for her performance.
“It’s not incidental that Gemma and Allison are women at the top of their procession,” Richards said. “That speaks to a lot of women who maybe come to Planned Parenthood because they’re just trying to figure out how to take that next step.”
The support-from-“Mom” initiative arose with Chuck Lorre, the sitcom mogul who co-created and co-exec-produces “Mom” with Baker.
“I’m proud to work for a man who came up with that idea and made it happen,” said Baker before citing her own past link with Planned Parenthood: “Twenty years ago, I worked in the national office in fundraising.” To be back in its headquarters, she said, felt like homecoming.
Richards said the number of sustaining donors who contribute monthly had quintupled since the election.
“We’ve been in the cross-hairs of this Congress and this White House for the last several months,” she said. “But women all across this country can’t believe that an organization that is providing health care to one in five women in America is now at risk of not being able to serve patients anymore. We’re fighting very hard to keep that from happening.”
On May 17, director Joss Whedon released a short film imagining a world without Planned Parenthood would look like. The three-minute video was released as Congressional House Republicans signed off on the American Health Care act prohibited women on Medicaid from getting any form of healthcare at Planned Parenthood.
Whedon, a fervent supporter of Hillary Clinton, was interviewed for Good magazine after the election and before the release of his film.
"It's been awhile now, though. I went to the march in D.C., I’m shooting something for Planned Parenthood. It's not like I laid down and died. But emotionally, I just can't do this. I can't read the news and have a heart attack every 15 minutes. I keep hitting these walls. It's like a cartoon, where I keep going through this series of brick walls and leaving a Joss shape in all of them. . . . I used to be charming and witty and now I'm just like bile, more bile, super bile. My rage has overwhelmed my wit.