Drop Dead Diva returns to Lifetime on Sunday (9 p.m. ET), and after three seasons of Jane (Brooke Elliott) pining for Grayson (Jackson Hurst) – the man she was engaged to as model Deb, before Deb died and her spirit entered attorney Jane’s body – the tables will turn. Last we saw Grayson, Deb/Jane’s best friend Stacy (April Bowlby) had informed him “I’m not Deb, Jane is,” and now, he’s the one smitten. The problem: Jane saw Grayson kiss Stacy in a moment of missing Deb, and she went to Italy with Owen (Lex Medlin), with whom she’s now happy. (Jane returns from abroad when a former law school classmate, played by guest star Megyn Price from Rules of Engagement, is accused of murder.) The season premiere ends with a cliffhanger that rivals the season 3 finale, Berman says. “Grayson is beginning to figure things out,” he teases. And the final Grayson-Jane scene of the second episode is his favorite of the entire series: “It’s really so emotional. The editor had me come in to watch the first cut, and I look over and the editor is crying. This is a macho guy in his 40s, just cutting film, and he’s like, ‘Ohmygod, this scene is so good.’”
While the Jane-Grayson-Owen love triangle will play out over the entire 13-episode season, Berman says he’s not afraid to move the story along: “Within the first six episodes, we have a huge proposal that can change the direction of the series.” Here are 10 more things to look forward to in season 4:
• Guest star Kim Kardashian in the first three episodes. Yes, Berman knows that in addition to Kardashian being incredibly popular, which he hopes will broaden the show’s fan base, she is also a polarizing figure. “I know that some fans are really concerned about our casting of Kim Kardashian, and I would urge the naysayers to at least watch the first episode before making a snap judgment,” he says. “She was lovely on the set. She was professional, she was on time, she knew all of her lines, and she was excited to be there.” (Also, he notes, they’ve had six Oscar winners and twentysome Emmy-nominated actors on the show, in addition to reality stars like Tim Gunn and Patti Stanger, the Millionaire Matchmaker.) Kardashian plays Nikki LaPree, a barista at a juice bar who also happens to be known as the local love guru. Stacy goes to her for some romantic advice on problems she’s having with Fred (Ben Feldman), who you’ll recall was going to propose to Stacy until Jane told him about Stacy’s kiss with Grayson. “That’s how Stacy and Nikki start their very odd, strange, unique relationship,” Berman says, with a laugh. They go into business together – “until everything goes a little crazy in episode 3,” he says. Jane and Nikki do not like each other, he adds. “There’s a lot of fireworks between those two characters. Jane does not trust Nikki. She thinks her motives for her friendship with Stacy are not true.”
• Joan Rivers guest stars as Jane’s subconscious. Much in the same way Paula Abdul has been used in the past, Rivers will pop up in multiple episodes. “She plays everything from a wedding planner, to a psychiatrist, to a minister,” Berman says. She’ll be in at least two episodes, numbers six and nine.
• Fred returns with a girlfriend. Last we saw Fred, he was going to follow Jane’s lead and hop a plane. How did he meet his new love? She was the TSA worker who patted him down. “She has a patented technique to search for guns and other weapons, which she demonstrates for Jane and Stacy. It’s crazy. It’s one of the funniest scenes we have ever done when you get to meet this girlfriend,” Berman says.
• Stacy will learn the truth about Fred being Jane’s guardian angel. “If fans are invested in that relationship, everything comes to a head in the season opener. It’s kinda bone-chilling for a woman to realize she’s in a relationship and nothing is as it seemed. The twists and turns in the episode for them are a real game-changer for the series,” Berman says. We will see Fred again this season, he promises. But…
• A new guardian angel for Jane! Undercovers star Carter MacIntyre joins the cast in the season premiere as a regular. “Ben Feldman always played, like, Jane’s younger brother, the guy who needed advice, a boy in a man’s body who was just about to hit puberty. Whereas Carter’s character, Luke Daniels, is a man. He goes head-to-head with Jane. He loves life. He has had sex. He has experienced joys that a man would experience. So it’s a completely different type of relationship,” Berman says. Look for him to up the show’s sex appeal. “The writers have nicknamed him ‘Dimples,’” Berman says. Also, he will have sexual tension with someone on the show. (All Berman will reveal is that it’s not Jane.)
• John Ratzenberger guest stars as Kim’s (Kate Levering) estranged father in episode 2. “He plays a janitor who was fired from an Enron-type company and decided, because they owe him money, he was going to move into the CEO’s mansion and will not move out. So Kim is brought into the family shenanigans,” Berman says. That episode also features guest star Jake T. Austin (Wizards of Waverly Place), who plays a young multimillionaire founder of an Internet company trying to sue his father who’s preventing him from traveling abroad to promote the business. “There’s a big twist there on why,” Berman says.
• Emily Rutherford guest stars in episode 3 as Owen’s sister – who is divorcing her husband because he has fallen in love with a Siri-type application that he invented. That idea, Berman says, was pitched to him by professors at Stanford Law School. They are such big fans of the show that they invited the writers to spend a day with them and brainstorm cases. (Four of the eight writers on the show either went to Stanford Law or Stanford. Berman, himself is a Stanford Law alum, says the law school also granted the show permission to use its name and set this season’s eighth episode there.) As for casting Rutherford as Owen’s sister, Berman was a fan of The New Adventures of Old Christine and wrote the part for her having no idea if she’d actually want to do it. “She has a scene where she eats dinner with Jane and Owen. She knows old Jane and hates old Jane, but we don’t know why and Jane doesn’t know why, so Jane has to figure it out over the course of the meal,” he says.
• Patty Duke also guest stars in episode 3 as someone Jane believes is a kindred spirit. Duke plays a greeter at a Walmart-type store who is fired after stopping a shoplifter. But more importantly, says Berman, “Jane believes that she has the soul of somebody else in side of her body, too.”
• Serena Williams guest stars in episode 6. After seeing the tennis star tweeting about how much she loves the show, Berman offered to write her a role. He knew she was friends with Brandy, who recurred last season as Elisa Shayne, the woman with whom Parker (Josh Stamberg) learned he has a child. So she’ll play Elisa’s attorney when Elisa enters into a custody battle with Parker. Brandy will be in at least two episodes this season; Williams will be in one, but they’re already talking about bringing her back.
• Cougar Town’s Ian Gomez guest stars in episode 8. Berman is a huge Cougar Town fan and offered Gomez the role of a wheelchair-bound con man who’s suing after being hit in a cross walk; he accepted on the spot. (Gomez’s wife, Nia Vardalos, has already guested on the show.) “He’s so greedy, he doesn’t want to share any of his winnings with a lawyer, so he decides he’s going to argue his own case,” Berman says.