Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Henstridge Era Continues, as E! renews "The Royals" for season 4

News coming out of Britain...er, Los Angeles today, as E! announces a fourth-season renewal for its scripted series The Royals.  Ten episodes will air at an unspecified date, after the season 3 finale airs this Sunday night, February 19.  Read on for the official royal proclamation:

E!, LIONSGATE, AND UNIVERSAL CABLE PRODUCTIONS PROCLAIM “THE ROYALS” REIGN WILL CONTINUE FOR A FOURTH SEASON
Season Three of the Delightfully Scandalous Original Scripted Series Starring Elizabeth Hurley Averages 1.1M Total Viewers, with More Than 600k in the A18-49 Demo, and 1.6M Weekly Social Engagements  
Third Season Finale Episode Airs This Sunday, February 19 at 10pm ET/PT on E!, Followed by “The Royal Hangover” on Facebook Live at 11pm ET
Los Angeles and Santa Monica, CA, February 16, 2017 – E! Entertainment announced a season four pick-up of the hit original scripted drama series “The Royals,” co-produced by Lionsgate and Universal Cable Productions.  Created by Mark Schwahn (“One Tree Hill”), the hour-long drama follows a fictional modern day royal family as they find love, conspire against one another, and are forced to face long-hidden secrets, all in the name of the crown.  “The Royals’” fourth season will consist of 10 one-hour episodes, to be followed each week by The Loyals’ favorite after show, “The Royal Hangover,” on Facebook Live. 
The third season has been a fun, sexy romp filled with battles for the throne, unexpected trysts, secret relationships, impossible returns, and complicated reveals from the past.   Events have included Queen Helena’s (Elizabeth Hurley) bitter battle against Cyrus (Jake Maskall) to prove Prince Liam (William Moseley) and Princess Eleanor (Alexandra Park) are rightful heirs to the throne after King Simon’s murder; the presumed dead Prince Robert’s (Max Brown) return to the palace; Queen Helena’s obsession with the Crown Prince of Lichtenstein (Elizabeth Hurley’s son, Damian Hurley) from the “Royal & Beautiful” television series; Princess Eleanor and her bodyguard Jasper (Tom Austen) taking a romantic turn in their relationship while he struggles to keep his past from catching up to him; and finally, Cyrus fighting for his life and the throne. 
In the upcoming third season finale episode, airing this Sunday, February 19 at 10pm, Prince Liam finds himself in unexpected places while looking to validate or dismiss the latest palace scandal. Queen Helena is heartbroken over a recent loss, while Jasper makes a final play for Princess Eleanor’s heart, and historic changes assure that nothing will ever be the same behind the palace gates.
Following the episode, the cast of “The Royals” joins creator Mark Schwahn to talk about the latest vices, skirmishes and not-so-secret rendezvous the nobles have taken part in throughout the season on “The Royal Hangover” on Facebook Live at 11pm ET on Sunday, February 19.
 “The third season of ‘The Royals’ has proven to be an entertaining mix of secrets, deceit and desire that our fans can't get enough of,” said Adam Stotsky, President, E! Entertainment and Esquire Network.  “We are excited to see what new scandals await our royal family, and how their dynamic evolves in season four.”
“We’re proud to extend our partnership with our friends at E! and Universal Cable Productions, and we’re pleased that the dedicated fans – the ‘Loyals’ –  are getting another season of their favorite show,” said Lionsgate Television Group Chairman Kevin Beggs.  “’‘The Royals’ is the kind of original and provocative series that has become a Lionsgate trademark, and we look forward to an all-new season of saucy palace intrigue and badly behaved sovereigns.”
“Mark Schwahn has created a sensational and opulent world filled with high stakes, scandalous drama and fairytale love stories. We’re excited to continue working with the talented cast and crew along with Lionsgate and E! to deliver more of ‘The Royals’ to loyal fans,” said Jeff Wachtel, President, Chief Content Officer, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment.
"E!, Lionsgate, and Universal Cable productions are wise and benevolent rulers and the Loyals are the true aristocracy,” said Mark Schwahn, creator, writer and director of “The Royals.”  “The writers, cast and crew love making this show, and I'm thrilled to once again play the role of court jester and humbly entertain our dedicated fan base with many more scandalous, sexy, heartfelt and addictive tales from the House of Henstridge." 
The third season of “The Royals” is averaging 1.1M total viewers, with over 600k in the 18-49 demo.  The scripted series ranks among the Top 5 Primetime destinations on Sundays (8p-11p) among W18-34 (#4), and is a Top 10 Primetime destination for 2017 to date among A/W 18-49 and A18-34.  Season three is averaging 1.6M weekly social media engagements, up 52% versus the same season two window.
Source: Nielsen, Live + 3, A18-49, premieres only (12/4/16-1/29/17); Primetime ranks based on 2017 premieres only (1/1/17-1/29/17; Social = ListenFirst
“The Royals” is co-produced by Lionsgate and Universal Cable Productions.  The series is executive produced, written and directed by Mark Schwahn (“One Tree Hill”), and executive produced by Brian Robbins, Joe Davola (“One Tree Hill,” “Smallville”), and Shauna Phelan.  “The Royals” stars Elizabeth Hurley (“Queen Helena”), William Moseley (“Prince Liam”), Alexandra Park (“Princess Eleanor”), Jake Maskall (“King Cyrus”), Tom Austen (“Jasper”), Max Brown (“Prince Robert”) and Genevieve Gaunt (“Wilhelmina”).

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Galentine's Day!

Just a reminder for tonight, as you snuggle with your partner or sit in front of the TV with a new box of bon bons (no judgments here!):  As of yesterday, all 180 half-hours of The Golden Girls became available for streaming on Hulu.

Yes, it's a fun ritual to tune in at 11 PM to see which episodes Hallmark is featuring for the night.  But now, for the first time, you can stream at any time any episode you want.  Like Rose, jonesing for a pain pill, or Dorothy, making surreptitious calls to her bookie, you can find on Hulu the fix you're craving.  Again, no judgments!

Happy Gal-entine's Day!

Attention, Cloud 9 Shoppers: Superstore Renewed for Season 3

The cast of NBC's hit Thursday night comedy Superstore

A smart buy for NBC: giving an early season 3 renewal to its hilarious sophomore comedy Superstore.  Read on for the network's official announcement about the 22-episode third season to come this fall.


UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — Feb. 14, 2017 — Renewal on aisle 3 … NBC’s “Superstore” is coming back for a 22-episode third season. 
The announcement was made by Jennifer Salke, President, NBC Entertainment.
“We are extremely proud of ‘Superstore,’ which is one of the smartest and funniest comedies on television today,” said Jennifer Salke, President, NBC Entertainment. “Through the show’s expertly drawn characters, our producers and cast do a remarkable job touching on many issues in which audiences can relate. To its credit, not only does ‘Superstore’ make us laugh, but it makes us think as well.”
So far this season, “Superstore” originals have averaged a 1.8 rating in adults 18-49 and 5.7 million viewers overall in “live plus seven day” ratings from Nielsen Media Research, lifting the network +29% above its 1.4 average in the Thursday 8 p.m. half-hour last season in 18-49 (excluding sports). Last summer a special post-Olympic telecast of “Superstore” delivered 9.7 million viewers, making it broadcast TV’s most-watched Friday comedy in 12 years.
Last season “Superstore” ranked as NBC’s #1 show on digital platforms, generating more than 33 million full-episode views on Hulu, NBC.com and video on demand.
“Superstore” centers around Amy (America Ferrera), the store’s most stalwart employee as well as the glue holding the place together. Jonah (Ben Feldman), who is often the target of his colleagues ribbing, is joined on the floor with his fellow associates, including sardonic Garrett (Colton Dunn), the ambitious Mateo (Nico Santos) and sweet teenager and new mom Cheyenne (Nichole Bloom). Overseeing the store is Glenn (Mark McKinney), the affable, clueless store manager, and Dina (Lauren Ash), the aggressive assistant manager who enforces Cloud 9 policy with an iron fist.
From the bright-eyed newbies and the seen-it-all veterans, to the clueless seasonal hires and the in-it-for-life managers, together they hilariously tackle the day-to-day grind of rabid bargain hunters, riot-causing sales and nap-worthy training sessions.
“Superstore” was created and written by Justin Spitzer, who also serves as an executive producer with director Ruben Fleischer, David Bernad and Gabe Miller & Jonathan Green. “Superstore” is produced by Universal Television, Spitzer Holding Company and The District.
 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Lady Gaga Joins RuPaul for Season Premiere of Drag Race

Well, it looks like Gaga survived that jump off the Super Bowl roof after all.  This morning, I got the email from Citibank about pre-sale tickets for her "Joanne" world tour.  (The pre-sale starts Feb. 8).  And now, Logo has announced that Gaga will be joining RuPaul to judge the season 9 premiere episode of Drag Race.

Check out the announcement video and press release below:


COME THROUGH, MOTHER MONSTER
Logo’s Emmy® Award-Winning “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Lands Lady Gaga For Unforgettable Season Premiere
Snatch The Moment This March
  
NEW YORK, NY – February 7, 2017 – Fresh off a stunning Super Bowl halftime show performance, Lady Gaga is set to appear on the season premiere of Logo’s Emmy® Award-winning competition series,  "RuPaul’s Drag Race."  Logo today announced that the new season will kick off with “Mother Monster” and RuPaul this March.  

The season nine premiere event features a shocking opening that will go down as one of the most jaw-dropping moments in “Drag Race” history.  Additionally, the premiere event will unveil a court of cut-throat Queens each competing to snatch the crown and strut away with a $100,000 cash prize and the coveted title of “America’s Next Drag Superstar.” Along the way, they’ll face an unpredictable competition and deliverwatercooler moments as these talented ladies of drag join the fabulous 100 Queens who fought for the crown before them.

The 13 previously announced Queens include:  Aja (Brooklyn, NY), Alexis Michelle (New York, NY), Charlie Hides (London, UK), Eureka O’Hara (Johnson City, TN), Farrah Moan (Las Vegas, Nevada), Jaymes Mansfield (Madison, Wisconsin), Kimora Blac (Las Vegas, Nevada), Nina Bo'nina Brown (Atlanta, Georgia), Peppermint (New York, New York), Sasha Velour (Brooklyn, New York), Shea Coulee (Chicago, IL), Trinity Taylor (Orlando, FL) and Valentina (Los Angeles, CA).

"RuPaul's Drag Race" season nine is produced by World of Wonder Productions with Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, Tom Campbell, Steven Corfe, Mandy Salangsang and RuPaul Charles serving as Executive Producers.  Tim Palazzola serves as Executive Producer for Logo.

After an epic Super Bowl halftime show performance that still has the world talking, Lady Gaga announced the Joanne World Tour set to begin this summer.  For dates and tickets, go to http://www.ladygaga.com


Friday, February 3, 2017

All My Children reunites on Home & Family

All My Children cast members l-r:
Taylor Miller, Peter Bergman, Kathleen Noone,
Michael E. Knight, Eva La Rue, Susan Lucci,
Jill Larson, Eden Riegel, Kim Delaney and Laurence Lau.
February 1, 2017
Photo by Erica Berger
For fans of daytime TV's classic series, this past week of Hallmark Channel's Home & Family was a real treat.  All week long, daytime diva Susan Lucci guest-hosted the two-hour daily program -- and on Thursday, Lucci joined in for a reunion of many of her former All My Children co-stars.

The vibe was familial as the actors joined in different combinations not only to talk about their days on the soap, but to work with Home & Family correspondents such as Debbie Matenopoulos, Lawrence ZarianKym Douglas and Paige Hemmis for segments on beauty, cooking and crafts.

Home & Family hosts
Mark Steines and Debbie Matenopoulos
February 1, 2017
Photo by Erica Berger

Later, over cocktails in Home & Family's backyard, I talked with Michael E. Knight, aka AMC's Tad Martin, about how he got his start.  Not long after graduating, he found himself on AMC -- and acting opposite one of his idols.  As a kid, Knight had broken his wrist, and during his recuperation, home from school, he discovered All My Children and its resident vixen, Erica Kane.  So years later, when he got the job on AMC himself, he approached Susan Lucci like a real fan -- and, he admits, probably scared her.  "I know you!  I love you!"


Check out Hallmark's Home & Family, airing weekdays at 10 AM Eastern/Pacific.
All My Children's Kim Delaney (l) and Kathleen Noone
February 1, 2017
Photo by Erica Berger
With the delightful Eva La Rue
at Hallmark's Home & Family
February 1, 2017
Photo by Erica Berger



Colucci meets Lucci at long last!
With Susan Lucci and my husband Frank DeCaro
at Hallmark's Home & Family
February 1, 2017
Photo by Erica Berger

RuPaul Selects Her New Queens

A much anticipated announcement yesterday from Logo, and its flagship series,RuPaul's Drag Race.  Ru has selected her season 9 queens/contestants, and you can meet them here:




Below, the press release with more info about what Ru has in store for us in the coming season:

LOGO’S EMMY® AWARD-WINNING COMPETITION SERIES
“RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE” RU-VEALS CAST
OF GAG-WORTHY NEW SEASON
 
 
Link to All-New Promo:  logotv.com/video-clips/o1pvd9
 
NEW YORK, NY – February 2, 2017 – Emmy® Award-winning host RuPaul is taking the new season of Logo’s "RuPaul's Drag Race" to the nines with the highly anticipated return of the groundbreaking competition series and revealing the next royal court of Queens set to compete for the crown. 
 
"‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 9,” said executive producer RuPaul Charles. “Now more than ever!”
 
Coming this spring, the season nine premiere extravaganza features a shocking opening that will go down as one of the most jaw-dropping moments in “Drag Race” history.  Additionally, it will unveil a court of cut-throat Queens each competing to snatch the crown and strut away with a $100,000 cash prize and the coveted title of “America’s Next Drag Superstar.” Along the way, they’ll face an unpredictable competition and deliverwatercooler moments as these talented ladies of drag join the fabulous 100 Queens who fought for the crown before them.
 
Logo kicked off the season nine cast announcement with a three-day story on the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Instagram account featuring a behind-the-scenes look at the season nine promo shoot, dropping hints to the day, date and time for the official cast announcement.  The story culminated in a Facebook Live, hosted by “Drag Race” judge Michelle Visage where fans got a first, exclusive interview with season nine Queen, Valentina, before the cast was officially announced.   
 
The 13 Queens who will compete in the pop culture phenomenon that has taken the world by its weave include:
 
  • Aja
Brooklyn, New York
TW: @ajathekween, IG: @ajathekween
 
  • Alexis Michelle
New York, New York
TW: @AlexisLives, IG: @AlexisLives
 
  • Charlie Hides
London, UK
TW: @charliehidestv, IG: @charliehidestv
 
  • Eureka O’Hara
Johnson City, TN
TW: @eurekaohara, IG: @eurekaohara
 
  • Farrah Moan
Las Vegas, Nevada
TW: @farrahrized, IG: @farrahrized
 
  • Jaymes Mansfield
Madison, Wisconsin
TW: @JaymesMansfield, IG: @jaymesmansfield
 
  • Kimora Blac
Las Vegas, Nevada
TW: @kimorablac, IG: @kimorablac
 
  • Nina Bo'nina Brown
Atlanta, Georgia
TW: @atlsexyslim, IG: @nina_bonina_brown
 
  • Peppermint
New York, New York
TW: @Peppermint247, IG: @peppermint247
 
  • Sasha Velour
Brooklyn, New York
TW: @sasha_velour, IG: @sashavelour
 
  • Shea Coulee
Chicago, IL
TW: @SheaCoulee, IG: @sheacoulee
 
  • Trinity Taylor
Orlando, FL
TW: @TrinityTheTuck, IG: @trinitythetuck
 
  • Valentina
Los Angeles, CA
TW: @AllofValentina, IG: @allaboutvalentina
 
"RuPaul's Drag Race" season nine is produced by World of Wonder Productions with Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, Tom Campbell, Steven Corfe, Kate Fisher and RuPaul Charles serving as Executive Producers. Chris McCarthy, Pamela Post and Tim Palazzola are Executive Producers for Logo.
 
For up-to-date “RuPaul’s Drag Race” news and exclusives, join the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Facebook page or follow #DragRace conversation on Twitter at @RuPaulsDragRace. Follow along with live gifs from the show on Tumblr and additional content on the show’s Instagram page. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Me of Little Faith; The Good Place scores a season 2

Ted Danson and Kristen Bell in
NBC's The Good Place
I have a confession to make.  When I first heard, about a year ago, that NBC had picked up, straight to series, the high-concept, heaven-set comedy The Good Place, I thought the show would turn out to be too smart for broadcast TV.

I underestimated viewers -- after all, the majority of us who voted did not vote for Trump -- and thought the show's serialized storyline and its dabbling with philosophy and theology would be a turn-off to the NBC crowd.

And then later, in watching the show, I also thought I was picking up on inconsistencies in its writing.  For instance, if Eleanor (Kristen Bell) doesn't get credit for good deeds done for a selfish reason -- i.e., to stay in the Good Place -- then why is Tahani (Jameela Jamil) there?  After all, we've seen how she was driven to her good deeds on earth not by a sense of altruism but by a need to outshine her sister.

I was wrong. On all counts.  Mea maxima culpa.

I certainly should have had more faith in The Good Place creator Mike Schur, who entertained us for years as a writer for The Office -- and even on-screen, as Dwight's idiot brother Mose -- and as the creator of the brilliant Parks & Recreation and co-creator of the equally hilarious Brooklyn Nine-Nine.  I should have realized that here, the Creator had a master plan.

Now, not only has the show scored decent ratings (see below) among well-heeled viewers, but it's scored something even harder to get these days:  buzz.  And, thanks to that buzz, and positive critical reviews, the show has earned what really counts in network TV:  a second-season renewal.

In a press release beginning with "Free yogurt for everyone!" NBC announced its pickup this morning of a second, 13-episode of the series -- which, for those of us who saw the season 1 finale with its shocking and brilliant twist, we're dying to see.  For those who like numbers with their comedy, here are the ratings NBC cited in its renewal decision:

In its rookie season, “The Good Place” has averaged a 1.9 rating in adults 18-49 and 6.1 million viewers overall in “live plus seven day” figures from Nielsen Media Research, improving the timeslot by +36% over NBC’s Thursday 8:30 average last season. The show’s Jan. 19 season finale delivered 5.2 million viewers after three days of time-shifted and video-on-demand viewing, for the show’s biggest L+3 audience since Oct. 27.

“The Good Place” has also generated a strong upscale audience, indexing at a 135 among adults 18-49 living in homes with $100K+ incomes (with 100 representing an average concentration of those homes).

The announcement does not specify if The Good Place's season two will debut in the fall or if its relatively short run will begin sometime later in the 2017-18 season.  (And I hope it's not a case of Heaven Can Wait.  That, of course, would be bullshirt!)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

In rerun heaven, she'll always turn the world on with her smile

Cast members of The Mary Tyler Moore Show,
reunited in 2013 on TV Land's Hot in Cleveland.
l-r, Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman, Mary Tyler Moore,
Betty White, Georgia Engel
She could turn the world on with her smile, and she will continue to do so for decades and generations to come.  TV icon Mary Tyler Moore died today at age 80, after years of declining health due to her lifelong fight with diabetes.

It was actually through the fight against diabetes that I first met Mary, at a Juvenile Diabetes Walk in New York City, a cause to which she was incredibly dedicated.  An animal lover, Mary also co-hosted with Bernadette Peters the "Broadway Barks" benefit each year, a beautiful event celebrating and adopting out animals in Manhattan's Shubert Alley.

But it was my husband Frank DeCaro's encounter with Mary that I'll always remember.  In 1997, Mary had appeared on Rosie O'Donnell's talk show, and talked about her desire to reunite with Valerie Harper in a new show, to be called "Mary & Rhoda."  At the time, Frank was writing a style column for the New York Times, and so, while searching for a topic for his next piece, he decided to write about what Mary Richards and Rhoda Morgenstern's lives would look like in the late '90s, twenty years after we'd last seen them on our screens.

The day after the column ran, Frank's home office phone rang; the voice on the other end said simply, "Please hold for Mary Tyler Moore."  A few seconds later, he heard, "Hello, Fraaaank?" in that famous quaver.

Valerie Harper and Mary Tyler Moore
attend the taping of NBC's 90th Birthday
Tribute to Betty White, January 2012.
Mary invited Frank to lunch, and of course he eagerly agreed.  But on the appointed date and time, all hell broke loose.  A storm raged in Manhattan, and bricks were falling off a building on Madison Avenue.  President Clinton was in town, causing a giant case of gridlock.  And despite trying to get from Chelsea to the Upper East Side restaurant by both subway and cab and then on foot, Frank arrived over an hour late. (Remember, this was JUST before we all had cell phones in our pockets.) Would a TV icon be furious with him -- or would she be gone?

To Frank's delight, Mary had had company for the hourlong wait -- surprise lunch guest Valerie Harper.  I first met Frank by reading his memoir, A Boy Named Phyllis, about growing up in surburban New Jersey and, yes, adopting the nickname Phyllis, after Elton John's supposed sobriquet for Rod Stewart.  The ladies understood his lateness, and they all three -- Mary, Rhoda and Phyllis -- proceeded to have a lovely lunch while brainstorming what the show could be.

Mary & Rhoda ended up going through several sitcom script iterations before being reconceived as a TV movie for ABC -- which scored high ratings.  Mary and Valerie never did reunite again on their own, although they both did join their former Mary Tyler Moore Show castmates Betty White, Cloris Leachman and Georgia Engel in a 2013 episode of Betty's TV Land sitcom, Hot in Cleveland.

Mary leaves behind an incredible showbiz legacy, from her iconic roles on landmark sitcoms The Dick Van Dyke Show and her own self-titled, groundbreaking '70s hit to amazing performances in films such as 1980's Ordinary People and one of my own silly favorites, 1967's Thoroughly Modern Millie.

The Television Academy's Archive of American Television project is an amazing resource, interviewing our TV legends about the span of their lives and careers.  Here, a link to Mary's full two-hour interview with the Archive, conducted by Diane Werts in New York City in 1997.  At the end, she discusses just how she'd like to be remembered.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Lisa Edelstein returns with season 3 of Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce... both in front of the camera, and in the writers' room

l-r, Bloomingdales Fashion Director Brooke Jaffe;
GG2D's star Lisa Edelstein, EP Marti Noxon and
costume designer Cynthia Summers; designer Ramy Brook
Just as the Television Critics of America (TCA) semi-annual tour finished in California, Bravo had saved a special treat for last.  On Thursday, Bloomingdales in Century City hosted a panel for its scripted series Girlfriends Guide to Divorce, bringing together star Lisa Edelstein and executive producer Marti Noxon with the show's costume designer, Cynthia Summers, and one of Cynthia's favorite designers, Ramy Brook.

In what may be the start of a new trend in TV, Girlfriends' Guide is now airing its third season, and the first of a three-season pickup leading to the series' finale.  Seasons 3, 4 and 5 of the show will consist of 19 episodes, to be filmed now (thru April of this year) but to be split into three small "seasons" that will air into January of 2018.  (I say this multi-season pickup may be a "trend" -- at least within NBC Universal --because NBC announced last week its own pickup of two more seasons of its freshman sensation, This Is Us.)

Before the panel, I got the chance to sit down with Lisa and Marti for a talk about where the show is going in its upcoming seasons, and through to the finish line -- and what they'll be up to next.

Must-Hear TV:  You have an end date now.  How rare is that in television, to get a three-season notice of the end?

Lisa Edelstein:  It’s nice to have.  Because you end up telling a half story otherwise, or rushing because you find out you’re being cancelled and you have 2 episodes left to wrap up the whole thing.  So yes, it’s really nice.  We had a long time to tell what story she wanted to tell.

MHTV:  Was there always a 5 year plan, or was it variable?

Marti Noxon:  No.  The plan was for as long as they’d have us.  But when they said they wanted to do  19-episodes, broken into seasons… I had always kind of had an idea where I wanted to end, so that was great.  I wanted the plane to land.

LE:  It’s kind of nice.  I feel like sometimes shows, there’s something that happens at around year 6…

MN:  Fatigue!

LE:  It’s more than fatigue.  I remember year 6 of House I was driving to work, and I was like, “Oh, I see how people say, ‘I’m ready to move on.’”  You can’t imagine that as an actor, and probably as a writer, too, that you’d ever get tired of something.  But there is something that happens.  But on this show, season 3, this moment, the moment we got this extended experience, was such a perfect time for it.  Because all the actors really felt confident and knew their roles so well, and the writers knew the actors so well, and so these three last seasons have just played out in such a beautiful way.  So to get that opportunity at the exact moment that we did was really comfortable.

MHTV:  Before you got tired of it?

LE:  Before we got tired of it, and while there were rich stories to tell, and at that moment where everybody knew everybody’s voice.  So the writing is very specific to the people who are inhabiting those roles.  And you can really feel it on set.

MHTV:  You wrote an episode as well.  In fact, it’s the episode airing this week as the third one of the third season, “Rule #188: Mind Your Side of the Plate.” [Airs Weds. Jan 25 at 10 PM ET/PT on Bravo]

LE:  I did!  Marti is the best boss in the world.  Last year, I asked, “Can I co-write an episode?” And I co-wrote with her.  This year she let me write an episode, and it was an amazing experience.

MHTV:  Is that a different muscle to exercise?  How did you do it?

LE:  The culture on our show is really group-think.  So you go into the writers’ room and everyone is breaking the whole season, and each episode that happens in that season, and each scene that happens in that episode.  So by the time you as the writer go off, you’re sort of writing the outline of what everybody came up with.  It’s not like I came in and was like, “Well, this is what’s going to happen.”  So I couldn’t do anything bad to anybody else.  I couldn’t make their characters die.  I couldn’t make them lose their voices.

MN:  “Weirdly, I have all the lines in this episode!”

MHTV:  “And everybody else’s line just says how beautiful I am!”  Did you get it all out, or do you want to write more as we continue?

LE:  I really do want to write more. 

MN:  She’s really super talented and multi-faceted…

LE:  I wrote when I was young.  And then I had a terrible friend who was very destructive.  As sometimes we do.  It really made me not trust that aspect of being creative.  When I left House, I started writing this thing, and I realized I miss this relationship with expressing myself.  And so, Marti as a boss is very generous and supportive, and really open to the enthusiasm and excitement and ambition of the people she hires.  That’s not something you see all the time.  A lot of times you get somebody who’s like, “This is my show.  Please be quiet.” But in this case, as soon as I learned that about her, it became an opportunity for me to really grow, at a time in my life where, like anybody who’s been doing something for 25 years, you hope you would get the opportunity to grow.  So I feel very blessed.

MHTV:  Is there something specific about the episode you wrote thematically that that’s the one you chose to write?

LE:  I didn’t choose.  It chose me.

MN:  We have to do it around schedules.

LE:  I needed to be able to write before I start shooting.  But I will say there’s a lot of body image stuff in this episode.  And Abby’s relationship with food and her body, and her relationship with Retta’s character Barbara.  It’s a very sensitive topic.  It’s something that we don’t talk about enough.  In fact, Marti’s got a movie coming out this weekend…

MHTV:  Serendipitously, your film, To The Bone [with Lily Collins portraying a young version of Marti, struggling with anorexia], is about the same topic.  It’s premiering at Sundance this weekend, right?  Right at the time of the Women’s March there.

MN:  I’m doing the March and then Sundance.

LE:  I’m doing the March in DC. 

MHTV:  How important is it to you both to speak out?

LE:  It’s a moment for people to gather and recognize how many people are activated to make sure that women’s issues remain in the forefront of our minds.  And that after the march, we then need to go home and talk to our local representatives and make sure they know how important it is.  I think these marches are just like “Yeah, we’re doing it” – and then you’ve got to go do it.  The march is awesome, but it’s what happens after the march that is vital.

MHTV:  Do you think it will get people more involved in standing up for civil rights?  I think seeing that there’s such a critical mass will probably be inspiring.

LE:  I’ll tell you, when Obama had his first inauguration, I got to go, and it was an extraordinary, powerful, incredibly emotional moment.  Trying to get in to where the inauguration was, we got trapped in this tunnel in the purple section – and people will talk about it if they were in the purple section.  We were in the yellow section, but we had to go through the purple tunnel.  And it was very frightening, because there were so many bodies.  But everyone was so happy and joyful, even in this moment where we were body to body and no one knew what to do.  It was really something.  So being around that energy is very powerful.

MHTV:  Will politics dictate anything about the show?

MN:  I did write into the first episode that aired last week a joke about Madame President.  But I did it in a way where we could cut it if we needed to, thinking, “We won’t have to.  Maybe this is a good omen.”

LE:  We did one take where we didn’t say that.

MN:  I think that the show already was taking on, in the way that we do, issues that are important to gender equality, but in a way that’s sort of palatable and fun.

LE:  And fashionable.

MN:  And everyone looks fabulous doing it.  But now we have jokes about living in a different kind of political climate.  So it has changed a little bit.

MHTV:  Are you doing a Mad Men where you’re going to make all 19 now, and they just air over 3 years?

MN:  Yes, that’s right.

MHTV:  So as they air in seasons 4 and 5, if the apocalypse has happened, you’re already in the can.

MN:  If the apocalypse has happened, I hope people will not be watching TV.  I hope they’re in the streets.

LE:  They could still stream our show. It’s fine.  Make them happy.

MHTV:  They could watch in the bunker.

LE:  Why not?  It’s so good!

MHTV:  I know you can’t spoil it, but what can you tell us about the evolution of Abby and all the other characters over these seasons, now that you have the luxury of time.

Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce star Lisa Edelstein
and executive producer Marti Noxon
LE:  We’re sort of calling season 3 the “Girlfriends’ Guide to Freedom.” In seasons 1 and 2, Abby has continuously slammed herself against the same brick wall.  And I think the foundation of that brick wall is her not wanting to deal with life on life’s terms.  And still holding on to fantasy, thinking the world is one way when it’s not.  Having sex with a hustler and being surprised she got hustled.  Stuff like that.  But she hits bottom at the beginning of season 3, and this is now time for her to start really picking up the pieces, and really discovering who she is and how she wants to be in the world.  And there’s a lot of interpersonal relationships with the girlfriends, and her relationship with Barbara gets very close.  She finds a new love interest – James Lesure is amazing.  Malcolm-Jamal Warner is amazing.

MHTV:  So what’s next after April?

LE:  She’s doing 8 million things.

MN:  [Marti’s HBO adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s] Sharp Objects goes into production in late March, and then for [new AMC series] Dietland, we start the writers’ room in February.  And the movie is done.


LE:  The movie is amazing.  And I am developing a project.  But this is my first time doing it, and it seems to be a very long, slow, grueling process. And other than that, I really don’t know.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

It's Official -- Will & Grace is back!!

l-r, Sean Hayes, Megan Mullally,
Eric McCormack and Debra Messing in
Will & Grace
This morning at the TCA press tour, NBC started off with an announcement they knew we'd love:  the brilliant 1998-2006 sitcom Will & Grace is coming back in the 2017-18 season, as a 10-episode limited series.

When Will & Grace premiered in 1998, it was only the second network show to feature an out gay leading character -- and that was after Ellen DeGeneres' Ellen Morgan character had come out only in the latter seasons of her eponymous show, in 1997.  Will & Grace went on not only to win 18 Emmys for its writing and all four of its principal cast members, but inspired a generation of men and women, including me, in their coming-out journeys.

In 2004, I was lucky to get the assignment to write Will & Grace: Fabulously Uncensored, a behind-the-scenes coffee table book about the show.  Getting to hang out with that fab foursome -- Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally -- plus the show's creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan and its amazing writers and crew -- was truly like going to fantasy camp.

Now, a whole new generation will get the same inspiration I did all those years ago.  And after all, there's plenty to talk about in 2017.  In fact, the whole revival talks began when the W&G cast and creators released their video, "Vote, Honey" this past fall, urging Americans to get out and vote.  That itself had been a feat of serendipity, because the set for Will Truman's apartment still existed intact, thanks to the preservation work of Mutchnick's alma mater Emerson College.   The "Vote, Honey" viral video proved so popular, it launched NBC into talks with Mutchnick, Kohan and the cast about the revival.

As Mutchnick notes, "Dave and I are absolutely thrilled about the opportunity to write what Will, Grace, Jack and Karen are thinking about in 2017."