Who is Whitney Cummings?
Why should we care?
She's a not-quite-well-known-and-if-we're-being-honest-not-well-known-at-all comedian who has been dubbed the "It Girl" of 2011 by NBC chief Bob Greenblatt, who has cast her in maybe his highest-profile new comedy, "Whitney."
A low-profile star in a high-profile show? Hey, it's NBC. They're trying. Cummings is also in the CBS new season series, "Two Broke Girls" -- a rarity in TV terms, in which the lead of one network show has a role in another show on another network. Has this happened before? Honest answer: I'm not sure, but it must have.
Point is, Cummings is suddenly a very big deal. Yes, she's certainly been around a while (Comedy Central roast fixture), and is a "name" but just not a big one, yet. Cummings -- a statuesque brunette with an effortlessly pleasing personality, if yesterday's appearance at the Television Critics Association meeting was representative -- plays a girlfriend to a character played by Chris D'Elia. You've seen D'Elia, doubtless, in a few forgotten series, like "Glory Daze," and like Cummings, came up through the L.A. stand-up circuit (where both in fact met.) His dad is also Bill D'Elia, a very well-known TV producer.
I'll pass on giving you a quick review of "Whitney" except to say: I can see what NBC saw in her. There is plenty of there there, although maybe the better word is "potential," which she obviously has.
What's peculiar about "Whitney" -- and the reason you will read negative reviews about this fall -- is that it's an extremely rare multi-cam sitcom; NBC eschewed those under previous entertainment regimes in favor of the irony-writ-large single cam'ers without a laugh track or live audience. But audiences tend to love these sorts of shows, and one reason why "Two and a half Men" has been TV's best-loved comedy for years.
Cummings yesterday told critics the multi-cam live audience show is " the best format for stand-up comedians. It made the most sense for us . . . I think our relationship with the audience is something you can tell we're comfortable with."
Cummings is very bright -- a magna cum laude grad from the U of Pennsylvania who told critics yesterday she wanted to become a journalist until Hollywood and the bright lights beckoned. Below, a March appearance on "Tonight Show:"