“We’ve never seen it, actually,” said co-writer Brian Bradley about the first Uncle Buck spinoff series from the 1990s starring Kevin Meaney. Since confusion regarding ownership of all the separate pieces of the property abound in many spinoff situations, Bradley told us, “We were cautioned against ever looking at [the first spinoff] which was great for us anyway because we didn’t want to see how they had done it.”
Bradley was more than confident knowing that he and writing partner Steven Cragg would be working with executive producer Will Packer (Straight Outta Compton, Roots 2016), a partnership that guaranteed a complete re-imagining of the franchise. “We do know they killed the parents [in the first spinoff],” said Cragg. But Bradley thinks that the need for working parents to get help raising kids is something many people can relate to. “This is a family in trouble,” he said, “and they find help in a really unlikely place.”
Mike Epps started out his career as an edgy stand-up comic. When asked what he enjoys about being a lead in a comedy series, he told us his favorite part is “that it’s a job.” He feels that this particular entertainment avenue is one that really works for him, but mostly he feels pleased to have the job.
“As a comedian and as an artist,” he said, “we all like to feel like we have a job. Stand-up is a job, but it’s not, you know? Movies is a job, but it’s really not because it ends. Where the TV series is — this is a real job.” Epps wasn’t totally convinced at first that he would fit into the environment, but now he knows it’s a place he belongs.
While ABC has made a point of bringing lots of diversity to primetime, Nia Long says this one is “more than just a black show,” and she’s pleased to be able to add to the landscape. She feels all TV should be all-inclusive.
“Listen,” she said, “everybody should have all of us. All actors should have an opportunity to do good work. What’s great about this show is, it’s more than being white or black, or being a remake, or being cut from the thread of something else.” She feels it’s a funny, good show about a beautiful black family. She continued, “It shouldn’t be a popularity contest. It should just be. Hopefully that’s what it’ll be. Just be funny.”
Due to the crass nature of much of Epps’ comedy material, his family has yet to see him perform. “I have kids,” he said. “My grandmother and my mother get an opportunity to finally watch me.” They would inform him that they “heard about” his performances in the past, but now, due to the clean — and still funny – nature of the series, he can say, “Well you’re going to see me this time.”
Young actors Iman Benson, Aalyrah Caldwell, and Sayeed Shahidi play Tia, Maizy, and Miles respectively. While Shahidi has had a couple recurring roles in the past, including one on Switched at Birth, they haven’t had much experience having a nice, big set of their own. The attractive and detailed Uncle Buck house is huge, and includes enviable bedrooms for the kids — so enviable in fact, that they even argue over whose is best.
“I think that probably the best room out of this whole entire house — everybody knows it’s my room,” boasted Caldwell, while Benson interjected, “Mine’s pretty awesome. My room is so colorful, it’s funky.” But Shahidi thinks he wins because “I’m the one with the Foosball table. So I think [mine] blow[s] both of their rooms out of the water.” The three get to play Foosball when they’re on breaks, but when asked about the possibility of landing an air hockey table, Sayeed thought about it for maybe a split second and stated, “I’m going to ask production about that.”
Uncle Buck premieres on Tuesday, June 14 at 9 p.m. on ABC.