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Twenty-five years after wrapping its seven-season run on CBS, Designing Women is plotting a return to the small screen.
Series creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason is behind the revival, which hails from producers Sony Pictures Television Studios. The project has been in the works for months as the indie studio searches for a home for its revival of the comedy about four women (and one man) working together at an interior designing firm in Atlanta.
Dixie Carter, Delta Burke, Annie Potts, Jean Smart and Meshach Taylor starred on the original series, which took on subjects including women’s rights, domestic abuse, homophobia and racism during its run from 1986-1993. A season two episode exploring AIDS prejudice — inspired by Bloodworth-Thomason, whose mother died from the disease — earned two Emmy nominations. Designing Women was nominated multiple times for best comedy but never took home the Emmy in the category. Burke earned two lead actress nominations and Taylor was also nominated.
Toward the end of its run, the series underwent some major casting changes. Julia Duffy and Jan Hooks replaced Burke and Smart in season six after Burke was fired from the show in a vote left to the cast after going public with complaints about producers, while Smart opted to exit of her own accord. (Duffy was not brought back for the seventh and final season and was replaced by Judith Ivey.)
Carter passed away in 2010; Potts is a series regular on The Big Bang Theory prequel Young Sheldon; Taylor died in 2014; Smart is a series regular on FX’s Noah Hawley Marvel drama Legion; and Burke, who is married to This Is Us favorite Gerald McRaney, last acted on TV in a 2009 episode of Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva.
The Designing Women revival arrives as reboots continue to remain in high demand as broadcast, cable and streaming platforms look for proven IP in a bid to cut through a cluttered landscape that is expected to top 500 scripted originals this year. Key to them is having the original producers involved — which Designing Women has with Bloodworth-Thomason and Sony, whose Columbia Pictures was the studio behind the CBS multicamera comedy.
Designing Women is of particular interest as broadcasters look to reboot hit comedies that help speak to the state of the politically divided country. ABC found huge ratings success with Roseanne, which represents the working class in middle America; CBS recently rebooted Murphy Brown with star Candice Bergen for next season; and NBC has renewed its Will & Grace revival through 2020.
It’s also worth noting that Potts recently acknowledged the climate is right for a Designing Women reboot. “I would love that,” she recently told EW. “I don’t know when I’d find the time for it, but I think that they could use a show like Designing Women — feisty smart women that didn’t take any B.S. from anybody. Every Monday night was a #MeToo moment for us, and we were talking about it; we were very political. I’m sad that there’s not such a strong voice, I don’t think, in any singular show. Nobody is doing what we did then. So yeah, if [creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason] wanted to write six episodes and do it in my hiatus, I would be there in a minute.”
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