TCA 2012: 'Partners' Co-Creators Talk About Putting Themselves in New CBS Comedy

2012-19 BIZ Sked Partners H

Relocating "Two and a Half Men" to Thursday from its nine-season Monday perch sets a high ratings bar for its CBS replacement, a gay-straight buddy comedy from "Will & Grace's" David Kohan and Max Mutchnick. If viewers tune out, the rest of CBS' Monday lineup could suffer.

Partners co-creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, the duo behind Will & Grace, spoke a bit more personally than most showrunners during their Television Critics Association summer press tour panel. Though the stars of their new CBS series did field some questions, most reporters targeted the Emmy-winning duo's decision to focus their latest collaboration on their own history.

The series follows two best friends and business partners, one gay (Michael Urie) and one straight (David Krumholtz), and the various issues their close relationship create in their respective love lives.

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"What we're writing is a dynamic," said Mutchnick. "We've been friends since we were 14 years old. We're in a relationship."

Mutchnick went on to give a rather detailed and hammed up recap of their meeting in high school -- Kohan, an athlete who dabbled in drama, and Mutchnick, a boy who had framed photos of Bette Midler in his room -- and his decision to come out of the closet to his best friend.

For a twosome that has been to press tour many times before -- they most recently came to CBS with the short-lived $#*! My Dad Says -- there were also a few surprising anecdotes from the famous writing partners: Kohan originally turned down Mutchnick's request to write together on the grounds of their differing "sensibilities," and Mutchnick outed Kohan's failed acting audition against Nicolas Cage.

For all the laughter at these revelations, several reporters were persistent in seeking comments about criticism the show has gotten for comparisons to a similarly-premised 1995 Fox sitcom of the same name that was created by Will & Grace EP Jeff Greenstein.

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"This was an unfortunate coincide," said Kohan. "We thought the title was what worked... It's about three different kinds of partnerships.

"I obviously knew Jeff had done a show called Partners," added Mutchnick. "It was not something I was very familiar with or we were even thinking about."

Krumholtz, getting in one some of the sparse commentary from the on-camera talent, attempted to cut the tension.
"Is it an unfortunate coincidence that my character's name is Tate Donovan," he asked, referring to the lead in Greenstein's Partners.