Tuesday, January 24, 2006

News In Brief 24 January 2006

NBC, Feeling Pressure, Reverses Ax; Will Merge West Wing, Will & Grace

Flood of Calls and Emails Shut Down Rockefeller Center; "Even More Liberal Plot Lines" May Save Shows

A day after canceling two of their most popular, award-winning shows, NBC reversed course and announced that they will merge "The West Wing" and "Will & Grace" to create one show, retaining all the established characters.

The new title of the single program will be "The West Wing, Featuring Will & Grace".

This came after a blizzard of telephone calls and emails that, by late afternoon, shut down the entire workings at NBC Headquarters in Rockefeller Center. Back-up generators, pre-recorded programming and a switch to studios in nearby New Jersey kept the Peacock network from going dark.

"After talking with our programming people, and the show's producers," announced an exhausted and beleaguered Kevin Reilly, president of NBC Entertainment, "we've come up with a plan that will keep both shows on-the-air, and their legions of fans happy.

Combined, "The West Wing" and "Will & Grace" have won 36 Emmys and, in its first season, "The West Wing" garnered nine Emmys, a record for most won by a series in a single season.

Reilly refused to say when the new, merged show would air, offering only "Likely in early 2007, after we shoot enough new episodes.

The plot will have the cast of 'Will & Grace" moving to Washington, after lawyer Will Thurman, played by Eric McCormick, is recruited by the Bartlet Administration to work on some still-to-be-determined, hot gay issue. It will be written so that Thurman gets carried over into the new administration, as the plotline of 'The West Wing" is a heated presidential election race between
Republican Alan Alda and Democrat Jimmy Smits.

"It will be more of a change for Will and Grace, than the others," Reilly admitted.

Other plotlines, Reilly stated, could involve Jack McFarland, portrayed by Sean Hayes, in Senate Page Boy Heaven, and Megan Mullally's character, Karen Walker, having her way with old, rich lobbyists.

"For fans of the show, they won't miss a beat," said Reilly.

Reilly also hinted at a dynamic cliffhanger to end the first season of the newly merged shows.

"I've suggested to the producers that we have Chief of Staff C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney) hit up on Grace (Debra Messing). It would shock both fan bases and we leave it hanging on which way Grace goes with it."

Reilly refused to comment on rumors that a third show would have plotlines mixed in, NBC's new mega hit, "My Name Is Earl"

"If we need that for ratings, we'll look down that road when we have to."

Reilly did concede that it would offer "some very interesting subplots to explore" with "any of the Will and Grace people."

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