Eleven years after it went off the air, “Will & Grace” is bracing for a comeback.
NBC confirmed at the Television Critics Assn. gathering in Pasadena on Wednesday that it will resurrect the beloved sitcom for a 10-episode limited run, with the original cast on board.
In an era when nostalgia has ushered in a number of reboots and revivals, the news was hardly surprising. NBC had been considering bringing back “Will & Grace” since September, after the network saw the fervent reaction when the cast reprised their roles for an election-themed video.
“You could see the appetite to see the cast together was there,” Jennifer Salke, president of NBC Entertainment, told The Times after the news was announced. “It was undeniable. But at the time, it was more like a fantasy: Wouldn’t it be great if we could do this on a bigger scale?”
It would take more than a desire to see it come to life. Deals with the original cast — Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally — had to be negotiated, as well as pacts with the show's co-creators, David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, the latter of whom has a deal at Warner Bros.
Even when it seemed something was imminent after Leslie Jordan, who plays Karen's rival Beverley, leaked the news in a radio interview last month, it was still premature. It wasn't until about 9 p.m. Tuesday that everything was finalized.
“It was one of those things that’s a fantasy that you pray will come together, but you have enough reasons to think that it won’t. And then, luckily, it did,” Salke said.
The show’s original cast took to Twitter after the news was announced.
“Hey, can I carpool with you guys to work?” Hayes wrote, tagging Messing, McCormack and Mullally.
Messing gave a shout-out to the fans: “OK. So I guess the word is out …Thank you everyone for welcoming us w/biglove.”
The return of “Will & Grace” is NBC’s first new series order for the 2017-18 broadcast season, and it joins a growing list of reboots and revivals that have hit the small screen across broadcast, cable and streaming services. Last season, the network brought back “Heroes” to disappointing results.
There is the danger of nostalgia overpowering a project. “Will & Grace” ran for eight seasons, from 1998 to 2006, and scooped up 16 Emmy Awards. It’s revered as a show that featured two gay male lead characters at a time when it wasn’t the norm on television. Salke is optimistic the comedy’s power hasn’t dimmed.
“When we looked at the video from September, it was so clear that the magic of all those relationships was still there,” Salke said. “Yes, it’s later and time’s passed, but it made me more interested to fill in what happened along the way.
“We’re not too worried about having to reinvent anything,” she added. “They have very specific relationships and bonds. It’ll be fun to see what the writers come up with.”
Mutchnick said in a statement: “Dave and I are absolutely thrilled about the opportunity to write what Will, Grace Jack, and Karen are thinking about in 2017.”
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