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Kristen Wiig Channeled Her “Best Chattanooga” Accent For ‘Palm Royale’: “Practiced in the Mirror”

For new comedy series Palm Royale, Kristen Wiig is putting her long résumé of accents to work.

The former Saturday Night Live star is back on the small screen in the Apple TV+ show, set in Palm Beach high society in 1969. Wiig stars as Maxine Simmons, an ambitious woman who tries to scheme her way into the exclusive, and often treacherous, world.

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“I just tried to do my best Chattanooga,” Wiig jokingly told The Hollywood Reporter of her pronounced accent in the series at the show’s Los Angeles premiere on Thursday. “Practiced in the mirror.”

Wiig also serves as an executive producer on the project and appears alongside a star-studded cast including Allison Janney, Laura Dern (who is also an EP), Carol Burnett, Leslie Bibb, Ricky Martin, Josh Lucas and Kaia Gerber. Besides the star power, a stand-out element of the series is its visuals, courtesy of production designer Jon Carlos and costume designer Alix Friedberg while shooting at homes in Bel-Air.

“It was like you would walk onto the set and thought you went into a time machine. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen,” Wiig said of the design, as Janney joked, “I literally wanted to move into the set.”

Janney stars as high society member Evelyn Rollins, noting she was drawn to the story as “these women were just living in a bubble — they don’t want to know what’s going on in the world outside of them, everything that’s important to them is at the [country] club. Those women just fascinate me.”

She also spends plenty of time facing off against Wiig’s character and trying to keep up with the comedian’s frequent improvising, remembering, “I’d just try to hang on and ride with her because my upbringing was not in that world. She’s ridiculous. She’s so good at it.”

Creator Abe Sylvia said the project was “like 70-30” between sticking to the script and embracing improv, and was the culmination of a longtime dream of exploring Florida’s high society.

“I’ve always wanted to set a show in Palm Beach,” Sylvia explained. “I’m obsessed with Slim Aarons, obsessed with the world of beautiful people doing beautiful things in beautiful places, which is sort of the mantra of those photographs, and I just thought it was a wonderful world that we haven’t seen before on television.”

Another highlight of the series is Burnett’s appearance in a guest starring role, as the cast sang the icon’s praises on the carpet.

“Carol was my idol growing up, I cannot believe I’m in a show with Carol Burnett,” Janney gushed, saying that the experience “did not disappoint me, just made her even more of an idol to me.” Lucas added, “she’s also game — she wants to be there, she’s working harder than you are, she’s more excited to be there than anybody.”

Martin, who works closely with Burnett on the show, had a particular bond with her. “This is the first time I’ve done comedy and she just held my hand. She doesn’t know this, but I felt she held my hand, and she told me, ‘Rick, everything is going to be fine,'” he recalled. “I was nervous, I’m nervous all the time, but I felt protected.”

Palm Royale starts streaming on Apple TV+ on March 20.

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