'Who Do You Think You Are?': Lisa Kudrow helps more stars find themselves

lisa-kudrow-dec-2010-gi.jpg Lisa Kudrow says that if she hadn't made a certain movie, she might not be helping other celebrities trace their pasts now.

The "Friends" Emmy winner was in Ireland, filming the 2007 comedy-drama "P.S. I Love You" with Hilary Swank, when she happened upon the television show "Who Do You Think You Are?" She was so intrigued to watch overseas stars comb through their genealogies, she felt the concept also would work in America ... and the Kudrow-produced NBC version's second season starts Friday, Feb. 4.

"That's the only reason I'm doing the show in the U.S.," Kudrow confirms to Zap2it. "I had very much a supporting role in the movie, so I'd be thinking, 'I hope we're done in time. I can watch that show.' I caught it one night in my hotel room, and I could not believe what I was watching. I didn't even know the people who were in it, but they're household names in the United Kingdom."

The sophomore round of Kudrow's "Who Do You Think You Are?" begins with singer-actress Vanessa Williams, and Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Ashley Judd, Rosie O'Donnell, Lionel Richie and Kim Cattrall are set for future episodes. Kudrow had her own history traced in the first season, and she realizes people are sometimes surprised she's the driving force behind the show, likely due to her iconic "Friends" portrayal of flighty Phoebe Buffay.

"A couple of times, I've heard, 'Huh! This is really smart. And you thought of it?' Alex Graham is the one who gets credit for it -- he created it [for England's BBC] -- but I just thought it was great, and I had the nerve to say, 'Let's do it here.' Alex crafted a way to give out information that some people might find dry otherwise, and to make it really thrilling."

Kudrow's former HBO series "The Comeback" is getting a second life on Sundance Channel, and her Internet series "Web Therapy" will have added exposure on Showtime in the spring. She's also on view as the guidance counselor who sets the rumor-driven complications in motion in "Easy A," this year's well-received movie comedy debuting on DVD and Blu-ray this week.

"Oh, that Emma Stone!," Kudrow says of the film's central star. "She's amazing. Will Gluck, who directed it, is a really great writer; he's fantastic. Every day on that movie was really fun."
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