The star of the hit CBS sitcom “Mom” and one of its creators paid a visit Tuesday to the president of Planned Parenthood, and they didn’t come empty-handed.
Actress Allison Janney and “Mom” co-creator and co-executive producer Gemma Baker dropped in on Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards to deliver a check for $250,000. They pointed out the show addresses issues that include teen pregnancy.
Janney and Baker said the money otherwise would have been spent on a promotional campaign for “Mom” to woo Emmy judges before the nominations are announced on July 13.
“We don’t NOT want to be considered for Emmys,” Janney said. “But we decided to use the money instead to support Planned Parenthood.”
Gathered in Richards’ office in lower Manhattan, the three women 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.”
Janney said her great-grandmother worked with Margaret Sanger, the pioneering birth-control activist who established what became Planned Parenthood. Janney’s grandmother also worked with Planned Parenthood. So did her mother.
“This organization has been close to me and my family for a long time,” she said.
Even so, most TV series don’t choose to associate themselves with any organization that, especially these days, is taking political heat.
“But our show deals with many issues that are polarizing to a lot of people,” Janney pointed out. 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 “Mom” with Baker and is one of its executive producers.
“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.”
Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmooreap.org.