Is Julia George A Real Person? The 'Notorious' Character Has A Clear Inspiration
The Shonadaland lineup is currently on hiatus, but the TV world must solider on and the premiere of ABC's new series Notorious is something to be excited about. Its soapy premise is promising — it focuses on how the law and media intersect with one another and, since this is something we see every time we turn on the news, it's not surprising that the series is "inspired by" true life, as reported by Deadline. The outlet describes the series as being based upon high-profile defense attorney Mark Geragos (who famously defended Scott Peterson and still found time to spar with Nancy Grace on CNN multiple times per week) and Wendy Walker. Piper Perabo's Notorious character is based on a real person, so what do we know about Walker?
Walker (who will be named Julia George in Notorious) was a longtime news producer at CNN for Larry King, according to People. Additionally, both Walker and Geragos are both involved with the series — so we can probably expect a fair depiction of each individual. Perabo prepared for her role by digging into the details of Walker's professional life. She told the outlet:
Wendy wrote a book about her life at CNN, so I read the book and then I did a series of interviews with her kind of digging into the meat and the sort of emotional underpinnings of those experiences. And also trying to find out more about her as a person and sort of why she made the decisions that she did when she was working with Larry King
She also visited the real-life newsroom to get a sense of what Walker's daily life and surroundings would have looked like. Perabo certainly wanted to do justice to the woman who inspired Julia George — she even texted her in the middle of the night for advice about handling certain scenes and situations.
According to IndieWire.com, Walker worked at CNN for 32 years before her retirement — and she spent 18 of those years as Larry King's executive producer. So, although she may not be a household name, Walker was kind of a big deal in the TV world — especially when it comes to shows that put a spotlight on true crime, much like Larry King did each night. However, Walker's expertise was not limited to high-profile kidnappings and murders. As she told the outlet: "Somehow I covered every major news story from 1979 to 2010, ranging from nine presidential elections, the Gulf War, and the September 11 attacks." It was a high-pressure gig — hours were spent fact-checking, and she recalls that one show had to be cancelled entirely at the last minute because it was discovered that a source was lying.
Although she provided her expertise to Perabo and the Notorious showrunners, Walker was sure to preemptively tell IndieWire that, no, she never had sex in her office before a live taping (which is reportedly one of the opening scenes of the season premiere). Plus, if she did, Walker humorously notes it would have needed to be at least 45 minutes before air time because she would have had zero time for steamy love scenes when she needed to check in with the guests, review the night's show with the anchor, and closely track breaking news.
So, although Julia is directly inspired by Walker, plenty of artistic license is being taken, and it's safe to assume that many of Julia's actions are pure fiction. But, after three decades of covering the most high-profile news cases of our generation, Walker's lengthy career was undoubtedly more jam-packed than even the ABC series can cover. Her book Producer: Lessons Shared from 30 Years in Television looks like a must-read for any news junkie who wonders what really goes on behind the scenes of a high-pressure news show like Larry King. Walker recounts covering breaking news stories that range from Watergate to the death of Michael Jackson — a reminder that people in her position need to be well-versed in everything from pop culture to politics to crime in order to successfully pull together a show at a moment's notice.
Although Notorious is ultimately a fictional show, we can be sure that Julia's smarts, work ethic, and determination are all very real attributes of the woman who inspired her character.
Images: Bob D'Amico; Adam Taylor/ABC