TV Talk

TCA 2017: Will & Grace’s 2017 Return Confirmed, Batman Comedy, This Is Us Has Staying Power

NBC's TCA presentations also included "Blacklist: Redemption" "Chicago Justice," "Taken," "The Arrangement," and more

by | January 19, 2017 | Comments

WILL & GRACE (George Lange/NBC)
NBC dropped big news confirming a reunion season for Will & Grace and presented panels on new series like Blacklist: Redemption, Taken, Chicago Justice, Good News, and Powerless and returning series like This Is Us and Shades of Blue on the final day of the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, California. NBC Universal Cable networks presented some sessions on Tuesday including a visit to the set of USA’s Playing House.


Will & Grace Revived for 2017 Update

NBC blew up the internet with the announcement of a 10-episode Will & Grace order. NBC President Jennifer Salke said the network kept talks with writers Max Mutchnick and David Kohan quiet after the reunion episode the cast filmed in September. The cast includes Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Megan Mullally, and Sean Hayes. Director James Burrows also returns.

After the announcement, NBC issued a press release with additional comments from Mutchnick: “Dave and I are absolutely thrilled about the opportunity to write what Will, Grace, Jack, and Karen are thinking about in 2017,”

Now that it’s official, the stars of Will & Grace are tweeting about it and sharing the promo clip.


This Is Us Has Enough Stories for More Than Its Three Guaranteed Seasons

Cast of "This Is Us" at NBC Press Tour (Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

NBC began their This Is Us panel by Salke announcing that the popular show was renewed not just for a second season, but also a third. This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman indicated that the Pearson family timeline he’s mapped out could sustain infinite seasons, because it can always jump back and forward. He does have an end in mind, but he wouldn’t say how many years he foresees.

Fogelman also said he was planning a scene between Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia that may be shot in one six-minute take. This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 on NBC. Read Rotten Tomatoes’ full story about what’s coming this season.


Law & Order: SVU’s Big Trump Episode May See the Light of Day

In October, NBC postponed an SVU episode called “Unstoppable,” in which Gary Cole plays a politician who faces compromising accusations from several women. “Unstoppable” was moved to November 16 before being pulled again after Election Day. On the TCA panel for Chicago Justice, franchise creator Dick Wolf said he doesn’t question NBC’s scheduling.

“I suspect it will be this spring, but I don’t know,” Wolf said. “They’ll tell me. It’s their air.”


Chicago Justice Is the Brains of the Chicago Franchise

Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, and Chicago P.D. will be joined this March by a legal drama, Chicago Justice. Wolf said each Chicago is a different body part. “Fire is the crotch, P.D. is the muscle, Med is the heart, and this show is the brain.”

A three-part crossover on Sunday, March 1 will introduce Chicago Justice, then the show moves to its regular time slot on Thursday, March 5 at 9 p.m. on NBC.


Powerless Found More Comedy in Batman

Alan Tudyk, Ron Funches, Vanessa Hudgens, Danny Pudi, Christina Kirk (Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

When Powerless screened at San Diego Comic-Con last summer, it was a workplace comedy about an insurance company for superhero damage claims. Now the insurance company has transformed into Wayne Security, a division of Wayne Enterprises. You know, as in Bruce Wayne. Executive Producer Patrick Schumacker said they quickly ran out of stories about an insurance company, but inventing ways to prevent superhero damage was comedy gold.

Batman may or may not show up, but his gadgets definitely will. Schumacker said one episode features an “errant Batarang.” Set in the newly made up Charm City, Powerless exists, Schumacker decided, in a separate DC universe than the films and the CW shows — Earth P to be exact.

Die-hard DC fans can look forward to seeing their favorite obscure comic book characters introduced in Powerless. “I look at them as underdogs,” Schumacker said.

Powerless premieres February 2 on NBC.


New Tina Fey News Comedy Won’t Be a Weekly Weekend Update

Great News is a new comedy created by 30 Rock alum Tracey Wigfield, and Tina Fey is producing along with her frequent collaborator Robert Carlock. Set at a cable news show, Great News won’t go where Fey went on Weekend Update

“You can take ideas from headlines, but you want to avoid doing a joke that feels old by the time it airs,” Fey said. Great News won’t be on until April, but they’ve already produced 10 episodes. “You can never quite keep up with Saturday Night Live in that way.”

Wigfield said she would like to tackle the state of news in general, and, in fact, John Michael Higgins plays the veteran anchor who wants to report real news. Nicole Richie is his cohost who wants to report about makeup and social media. Great News premieres with back-to-back episodes Tuesday, April 25 at 9 and 9:30.


Blacklist Spin-Off Could Bring Red in for Season 2

"The Blacklist: Redemption" Famke Janssen, Ryan Eggold (Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

Blacklist: Redemption will premiere immediately following The Blacklist on February 23 in a two-hour block that creator John Bokemkamp says feeds right into the new series.

“Tom walks out of one show into the next,” Bokenkamp said.

Redemption will air eight episodes and then The Blacklist returns, in some sense creating a 30-episode Blacklist season.

Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold) joins Blacklisters Scottie Hargrave (Famke Janssen) and Matias Solomon (Edi Gathegi) in the new show. Co-creator John Eisendrath was clear that Redemption would spend its eight-episode first season establishing its characters, but that maybe season 2 could see Red Reddington (James Spader) tighten his grip on their team too.

Keen walks right into The Blacklist: Redemption on February 23 at 10 p.m. on NBC.


J-Lo’s Bye Bye Birdie Will Include Racial Conflicts Omitted From the Movie

NBC TCA 2017 Jennifer Lopez (Chris Haston/NBCUniversal)

Jennifer Lopez will produce and play Rosie — the role originated by Chita Rivera — in NBC’s live production of Bye Bye Birdie. On her panel for Shades of Blue, Lopez said she’s a fan of the movie starring Janet Leigh in the role, but that the film had to water down some of the racial conflicts between Rosie and her boyfriend Albert. The NBC version will go there.

“She was Puerto Rican,” Lopez said. “Albert was not marrying her because the mother didn’t like that she was Puerto Rican. It’s going to be interesting to actually play that part, to be a woman who’s pushing 40 and wondering, ‘Are we ever getting married?’”

Lopez added that Bye Bye Birdie Live would remain a period piece. The musical is set to air in December.


Taken Takes a Lot Away From Bryan Mills

NBCUniversal Press Tour 2017 Jennifer Beals, Clive Standen (Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

In three movies, the Taken films ran out of family members to take from Bryan Mills. In the series, Bryan (Clive Standen) loses his sister in the first scene and puts his particular set of skills to work for the CIA. Bryan won’t be rescuing kidnapping victims every week, but the title Taken is relevant to his story.

“His sister is not the only thing that’s taken from him in the first season,” Standen said.

Taken, which costars Jennifer Beals, premieres Monday, February 22. Be sure to read Rotten Tomatoes’ interview with Standen.


Playing House Season 3 Is Based on a True Story

During the year and a half since season 2 of Playing House — while Lennon Parham had another baby — creator/stars Parham and Jessica St. Clair went through some challenges on which they based the story of season 3.

“We decided to write about it because our friendship in real life deepened,” said St. Clair, who plays Emma. “This season is truly a love letter to what Lennon has done for me.”

Only six weeks have passed in Playing House time and Keegan-Michael Key is back as Emma’s love interest Mark for five episodes. Maggie (Parham) will get a “real hot” romance, according to St. Clair, who is also directing the season premiere, which has a Hoosier’s theme. There is also an episode with a Game of Thrones–themed Sweet 13 party featuring Key as Khal Drogo. The season finale will have a Tina Turner–inspired dance scene, but no Turner cameo, Parham was clear.


The Arrangement Is Really, Really, Really Not About Scientology — For Real

E!’s new dramatic series The Arrangement is about an aspiring actress (Christine Evangelista), who signs a marriage contract with a movie star (Josh Henderson), who is controlled by a self-help organization. The Institute for the Higher Mind sounds an awful lot like that other New Age religion with lots of celebrity members. Show creator Jonathan Abrahams isn’t saying The Arrangement is about Scientology. He based it on Lifespring, Landmark Forum, EST, and even 12-step programs.

“All these things have something in common: This idea that the shackles of your past can be broken if you follow a structure about how to live your life,” Abrahams said. “It’s not a religion. ‘Come do our program, spend $X for our intensive weekend, and you can change your life.’ That’s not really about faith. It’s about hope.”

The Arrangement premieres Sunday, March 5 at 10 p.m. on E!


Your Cable Lineup Just Got One Channel Smaller

NBC did not have an executive session for the Television Critics Association, so Variety broke the news NBCUniversal Cable will close their Esquire Network. According to Variety, negotiations with Charter Communications led to the decision. AT&T’s DirecTV and U-Verse already dropped Esquire in December.

There’s a silver lining for Esquire junkies: It will live on as a digital-only platform. Esquire.com is set to host current series and launch shows like Borderland USA and Edgehill this spring. Esquire Network continues to air through the summer.

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