Allison Janney and Lily Tomlin compare Violets

I’ve never been certain whether 9 to 5 was a great movie or I just loved its three stars so much that I didn’t care.

The movie, released in 1980, follows three working women — Judy (Jane Fonda), Violet (Lily Tomlin) and Doralee (Dolly Parton) — who take drastic measures when they get fed up with their sexist boss. For its time, the film was quite a feminist statement, using an outrageous plot to make a point about equal opportunity for women in the workplace. And the movie trailer is classic.

Lily Tomlin’s Violet became something of a symbol for every female middle manager fed up with doing their boss’ work while he takes the credit. What working woman didn’t cheer during Violet’s daydream of a cheery Snow White sweetly annihilating her wicked boss?

But behind the humor was a message that Tomlin strongly believed in.

“At the time all of us felt that things like flex time, equal pay and women being promoted were way behind the curve,” she said. “I think ‘9 to 5’ helped show the way that women in the office found strength from one another, the way they battled against stereotypes, the way they started taking action to be treated fairly.”

Equality in the workplace is better than it was in 1980, but sex discrimination and pay inequity is alive and well in 2009. So the message of 9 to 5: The Musical, now open on Broadway, still rings true.

Allison Janney plays the role of Violet and, according to one review, “brings all the majesty of her West Wing C.J. to the part and commands the Broadway stage just as she did the White House.”

Still, Janney initially was uncertain about making the role her own.

“I was incredibly intimidated at first, thinking I had to follow in Lily’s shoes,” Janney said. “I focused on giving Violet a big heart and on her personal and professional longings, and that made me feel confident.”

When the two Violets got together recently to compare notes, the mutual admiration between Tomlin and Janney was evident. The New York Times has the story, which is as charming as you would expect from two of our favorite people. But the best part of the article for me is this:

Isn’t that the perfect way to start the weekend? How much do you love Lily Tomlin and Allison Janney? Really, I want to know.