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'Shining Vale' makes Courteney Cox, Mira Sorvino laugh, scream

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'Shining Vale' makes Courteney Cox, Mira Sorvino laugh, scream
Courteney Cox stars in the horror-comedy "Shining Vale." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, March 4 (UPI) -- Courteney Cox and Mira Sorvino said their new show, Shining Vale, premiering Sunday on Starz, is funny and scary.

Cox, 57, plays Pat Phelps, a mother who moves into a notorious house with her husband and children.

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"I love to be scared and I love to laugh," Cox said on a recent Television Critics Association Zoom panel. "This is such a unique combination of these two things."

Cox also stars in the horror-comedy franchise Scream. While those are self-referential slasher movies, Cox said Shining Vale draws parallels between Pat's depression and a possible haunting.

"It deals with real-life issues, family, infidelity, mental illness," Cox said.

Shining Vale was created by Sharon Horgan, 51. Though previously a comedy creator with Catastrophe and Divorce, Horgan said she and executive producer Jeff Astrof have frights in store, too.

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"It was just as important that it be scary as it be funny," Horgan said. "When the horror kicks in, we wanted it to be proper scary."

Sorvino, 54, appears at the end of the premiere episode. Sorvino teased her character, Rosemary, whom only Pat can see.

"I may or may not have existed in the '50s in the form of an unhappy housewife who dreams of the stage or the screen," Sorvino said. "I try to enlist Courteney's character in a series of somewhat self-oriented adventures so that I can live through her a little bit."

Sorvino said Rosemary provides humor and horror in Shining Vale.

"She's kind of funny, can be sort of scary," Sorvino said. "I also try to find the vulnerability in her, as well, even though she might be doing some things that some consider questionable."

Pat, too, presented vulnerabilities as an author struggling with writer's block and a mother struggling with loneliness. Cox said Pat offered her new acting challenges.

"I get to go into places that I have never been to before and be raw and vulnerable," Cox said. "I've worked harder on this than I have anything else."

Horgan said that Pat has been unfaithful to her husband. Part of why they move to Shining Vale, Conn., is to work on their marriage.

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"We gave Pat a sort of a mistake, a bit of an unhappy past," Horgan said. "It's important that the family had difficulties."

Sorvino won an Oscar for her role as a quirky prostitute in 1995's Mighty Aphrodite. Her other popular roles include high school ditz in Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion and a fictional actor in the series Hollywood.

"I got to create another one of my weird characters -- weird, blonde characters," Sorvino said.

The cast and creators said they've had scary moments in real life, sometimes possibly supernatural. Cox used to live in Gypsy Rose Lee's old house on Lookout Mountain in Los Angeles, and multiple friends reported sensing a ghost when they visited.

"One day, I was at the door and the doorbell rang," Cox said. "It was a FedEx guy, and he goes, 'Are you aware that there is a spirit in this house?' And I go, 'No, why are you saying that?' and he said, 'Because they're standing right behind you.' Then I moved."

Sorvino said she heard a scary story from her mother, singer Lorraine Davis. Davis and her group played with a Ouija board before embarking on a riverboat tour on the Mississippi River.

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"The Ouija board picked a certain date, and eventually the [tour] fell through," Sorvino said. "That date was the date of the worst storm in the history of the Mississippi and a ton of people died on the river that day. So it was very odd, and malevolent, and taught me to never, ever play with a Ouija board."

Horgan's scary story came from her childhood when her family stayed with an elderly woman on a vacation in Ireland. The woman scared young Horgan.

"One night, I sort of woke up, and she's standing at the bottom of the bed," Horgan said. "I greeted her, and then, suddenly, she wasn't there, and I was convinced the next morning I was going to find out that she died, but she hadn't."

New episodes of Shining Vale air Sundays at 10 p.m. on Starz.

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