Courteney Cox Close to 'Cougar Town' Character

Cougars, cougars, cougars are everywhere.

Not the large solitary wild cats who feast on elk and deer, but the older women who delight in younger men: Those cougars are in magazines, books, the Internet and the big and small screen, and they are about to proliferate even further.

VIDEO: Courtney Cox says she plays a heightened version of herself in "Cougar Town."

Starting tonight, Courteney Cox, who could be considered a cougar in real life with husband David Arquette seven years her junior, will also play one on the small screen in the ABC sitcom "Cougar Town."

Just don't expect her to say the word.

"The word is definitely in the zeitgeist," "Cougar Town" executive producer Bill Lawrence told "To me it's just a word, a hooky title that tells you what the show is about. No one would have cared if we called it 'Forty and Single.' But we never use the term. It's more about Courteney as a single 40-year-old woman, pulled between younger and older friends, and trying to hold onto her dignity. She doesn't want to be one of those women we make fun of."

VIDEO: Courtney Coxs cougar workout

In "Cougar Town," Cox's character Jules Cobb, a divorced mom of a teenage son and successful real estate broker, looks down on her real estate rival, a desperate older woman with a thing for younger men. At the same time, she's eager to dive back into the dating world but is uncertain how.

"I'd date guys my own age but they're all dating younger girls," Jules says in tonight's season premiere.

VIDEO: Sneak Peak at Cougar Town

"I think Courteney Cox is great at playing the comedy of discomfort," said Lawrence, who approached her with the sitcom after he heard through the grapevine that she was looking to do comedy again. "She's a fearless comedian."

That includes being unafraid to show less than perfect sides of herself. In the opening scene, she scrutinizes her naked body in the shower, squeezing her stomach, jiggling her arms and thighs and pinching her back.

No Body Double for Courteney Cox in 'Cougar Town'

Lawrence said executives and test audiences who saw the scene thought Cox used a body double. It's all her, he said, as is much of the character's personality.

"Courteney says what's on her mind," he said. "She sometimes doesn't have a filter. She's basically playing an exaggerated version of herself."

Lawrence, who has known Cox for a long time, had the "Friends" star do a guest role on his sitcom "Scrubs," before they moved forward, just to make sure "she didn't hate me," he said. "It actually went really well."

Both are hoping their new show does as well as "Scrubs."

"She's nervous, excited," he said. "She just wants it to work."

They are counting on hooking audiences with "cougar," a word Lawrence said may be played out, even though the concept isn't.

The word has become a punch line ever since author Valerie Gibson first brought it to the mainstream with her 2001 book "Cougar: A Guide for Older Women Dating Younger Men." And the joke, more often than not, is on the woman.

Just check out the recurring "Saturday Night Live" skit "Cougar Den," which always seems to star Cameron Diaz, who, in real life, has been linked to younger men.

Earlier this year, there was the over-the-top TV Land reality show "The Cougar," hosted by Vivica Fox. Forty-year-old Stacey Anderson lived with 20 men under 30, choosing one to be her "soul mate."

Recently, Jennifer Aniston), Cox's BFF and "Friends" co-star, announced she is developing a big-screen comedy about pumas -- cougars in training -- called "Pumas," in which she'd co-star with Elizabeth Banks.

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