.: Pregnant stars get creative cover-ups :.
By Donna Freydkin
The persistent nausea is gone. So are the headaches. Now, Charmed sorceress Holly Marie Combs can enjoy her first pregnancy.
But for her show's costume designer, and those on Will & Grace and NYPD Blue, the labor is just getting going as those prime-time series grapple with surprise pregnancies and stars' changing bodies.
"My boobs are getting bigger. My stomach is definitely bigger," says Combs, who's due in late April (the dad is her boyfriend, David Donoho). "I'm in all of my fat jeans right now, and let me just say that I'm about two days away from giving them up for maternity pants."
Luckily, her pregnancy will be written into the witchy WB show (Sundays, 8 p.m. ET/PT), but not until January. There's no final word yet on how it will be worked in or who the TV father will be. But the delay means that Combs, 30, has to conceal her belly into her sixth month.
"Our clothes are form-fitting, but my character is going to have to get a little more casual," Combs says. "I might appear in a couple of sweatshirts, for the first time ever. We've never dealt with this before."
The magician dealing with it is Charmed costumer Eilish, one of the stylists camouflaging burgeoning tummies. It's just the latest installment of TV's age-old battle of the bumps. Julia Louis-Dreyfus' pregnancy was concealed on Seinfeld, as was Sarah Jessica Parker's on Sex and the City and both of Jane Kaczmarek's on Malcolm in the Middle. But Lisa Kudrow's was written in on Friends, and so was Camryn Manheim's on The Practice.
Until Combs' character is with child, she's wearing relaxed, loose clothes. Her Theory pants are "stretchy now, with nothing binding her," Eilish says.
Combs' new tops are cut slightly below the waist. She tops them off with Fred Segal or Traffic sweaters, Earl or DKNY jean jackets and those distracting big scarves.
"When she starts showing for real, probably after Christmas, I'll go to the high-end pregnancy things, or I just might design pieces for her because she's so little and petite," Eilish says. "But I'm lucky, because when she gets really big, she'll be pregnant on the show."
Will & Grace's Lori Eskowitz has it harder. She's concealing Debra Messing's pregnancy — even though Messing's character, Grace, favors body-hugging tops, tight jeans and skimpy dresses on the NBC show (Thursdays, 9 p.m. ET/PT). Grace, still hitched to hunky doctor Leo (Harry Connick Jr.), had tried to have a baby with best friend Will, so it might have seemed simple to make her pregnancy part of the show. Not so, says co-executive producer Jeff Greenstein.
"We pulled the baby card and put it away. Right now, the edgy nature of the show would be compromised by a child," he says. "We'll make a few fat jokes, because we want to wink at viewers who know what's going on." Says Eskowitz: "We're going to cover it up and disguise her with coats and scarves. She'll look as fashionable as she always has."
Messing, who is expecting her first child with her husband, Daniel Zelman, is due shortly after production wraps in late March. After a few rough weeks, Greenstein says, the skinny star is back at work and brought her sonogram with her to a script read-through. Already, Messing, 35, has a belly — and Eskowitz has her work cut out for her.
"There's no hiding it 100%," the stylist says. "Her bust is getting bigger, and I'm going to show it off as much as possible. She has a totally different body."
Messing will don flowing Stella McCartney and Chloe dresses and Peter Som baby-doll frocks. She'll ditch her signature string of pearls, which poke out at the stomach.
"Debra has great legs, so she'll wear a bunch of short skirts and she'll still be able to wear her high heels," Eskowitz says.
Not so at NYPD Blue (Tuesdays, 10 p.m. ET/PT), in which Charlotte Ross' Det. Connie McDowell has been put on desk duty now that the star's pregnancy has been written into the show. McDowell wed dad-to-be Det. Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) Tuesday in the second-to-last episode before the show goes on hiatus through February.
"If I was on Baywatch, this would be a real problem," says Ross, who's expecting a boy in late March with husband Michael Goldman. "But I'm a detective, so it's not about form-fitting clothes or being a sexpot. Which is good, because I feel like a total tubby." Ross, 35, still favors crisp, tailored, streamlined clothes, but now, her maternity pants, tops and jackets come from Pea in a Pod, the Gap and Banana Republic, and her dresses from Liz Lange.
Being pregnant, Ross says, "limits what I can do on the show, but it's been fun playing this shocker of having a kid."