London, Feb 9: A new group of celebrities is getting their backgrounds searched for season three of NBC's genealogy show, ‘Who Do You Think You Are,' produced by Emmy-winning actress Lisa Kudrow.
Kudrow says among those finding out who they are this season include Marissa Tomei, Helen Hunt, Reba McEntire, Edie Falco, Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones.
“They're all really inspiring stories because the things that our ancestors endured in a lot of these - you know our subjects' ancestors - that they endured and went on to love and have children and that's the triumph I think,” said Kudrow. “I just think it makes you feel really good.”
Kudrow says one of the highlights of the season is when Tomei discovers that her family's information about an elder is completely off base.
“Marissa's great-grandfather was killed in Italy when her grandfather was three; Marissa's mother's father and the story was that the great-grandfather Leopoldo was a philanderer and was probably caught with someone else's wife and that's why he got killed and that's all that was said about it and that's not the story - so I should just say that - but that's not the story,” she said. “That's really not what happened and that changes the way you think about this man.”
Kudrow says Helen Hunt is one of the few celebrities on the show that have found strong narratives about their female ancestors and that Hunt's story was an extremely emotional one.
“Helen Hunt's great-great-grandmother Augusta Hunt was actually (a) very strong woman who had a big impact on women's rights especially in Portland, Maine,” she said. “So that was a big shock to Helen and it's also significant ‘cause Portland is the place where Helen was shooting a movie when she was newly pregnant and didn't want to tell anyone but her friend had a doctor and that's the first place she heard her daughter's heartbeat. The ultra-sound was in Portland, Maine.”
Kudrow got a glimpse of her own genealogy in an episode in the first season. She says what she dug up continues to have an impact on her life.
“There was a relative who we had been told - or my father had assumed was killed,” she said. “After World War II he came to New York, told them the story of the family being rounded up and shot in Belarus and then he was headed back to Poland and everyone assumed - they never heard from him again - they assumed he died and my father thought he had heard that he died and when I went to Poland to find out what became of him I found him; self. He was alive. So that was happy and we've stayed in touch with him; with his grandson who was our translator on the show and he's visited twice.”
Kudrow - who made a name for herself playing Phoebe Buffay in ‘Friends' - also remains in the world of comedy.
Her series ‘Web Therapy' is still going strong on Showtime and online. She plays the self-absorbed, less-than-sympathetic shrink Fiona Wallice, who is convinced that three minutes of chat over the web is far better than listening to patients prattle on for 50 minutes. Kudrow says the new season includes Fiona's sessions with Conan O'Brien, Selma Blair, Molly Shannon, Rosie O'Donnell, Lilly Tomlin and Meryl Streep.
“She (Streep) plays a gay conversion therapist,” said Kudrow. “Hilarious. I know, who used to be an aerobics instructor, as they all are.”