It’s official: Will & Grace is returning to NBC.
Less than a month after former co-star Leslie Jordan leaked the news, the network made the formal announcement Wednesday at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour.
The Will & Grace revival will consist of 10 episodes and bring stars Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes back to the network, with the series set to bow during the 2017-18 broadcast season. They are joined by original series creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, and all had to ink new deals with Universal Television for the revival. (Hayes has a long-standing relationship with Universal TV, having developed several series for the studio, including NBC’s Grimm and Hollywood Game Night.) James Burrows, who directed every episode of the show during its initial run, will return in the same capacity. Kohan and Mutchnick will again serve as showrunners.
NBC had been eyeing the Will & Grace limited series revival since September, when the network was riding a wave of nostalgia after stars Messing, McCormack, Mullally and Hayes stepped back into their former characters in an election-themed video that went viral. At the time, deals with the four stars still had to be worked out, as did new pacts with series creators Kohan and Mutchnick, the latter of whom had the idea to do the September election-themed TV revival.
Will & Grace ran for eight seasons and scored 16 Emmy wins out of 83 nominations. All four stars took home Emmy gold for the show about a single woman, her gay roommate and their eccentric friends. In its heyday, the stars earned $600,000 per episode to do the series — on top of points on the backend. The series remains a hit in syndication, but it does not have a streaming home.
In an interview after the election-themed video was released, both Messing — who has a long-standing friendship with NBC boss Bob Greenblatt that dates back to Smash and The Mysteries of Laura — told The Hollywood Reporter that she would “never say never” about a revival.
“Now there are platforms where you can do six or 10 episodes. I don’t believe we would ever come back to network [TV] again,” said the actress. “I think that the logistics of all of our lives — there would just be way too many things to hammer out. But for something shorter-lived and maybe having the limitations of being on network TV lifted may give us a fun, fresh opportunity because we could be really, really naughty!”
McCormack said there was no official talk of a revival during the two days it took to film the reunion video, though he seemed open to it.
“As for the future, everyone — from Max and David on down — is so protective of the show and how we ended it,” he said. “We’re very proud of the series finale and the story that told of the break that friendships sometimes take. So to play with that and change that story and change our own stories in life, I’m sure we would all be open to talking about it.”
The reunion was Mutchnick’s idea. The sets were stored at Emerson College in Boston, where they had been housed for the past 10 years but needed to be moved. He transported the sets to the show’s original studio and had them reassembled. Burrows returned to helm the viral video that now has more than 6.6 million views.
“Dave and I are absolutely thrilled about the opportunity to write what Will, Grace, Jack and Karen are thinking about in 2017,” said Mutchnick.
For NBC, this marks the network’s first new series order for the 2017-18 broadcast season. The series comes as Fox has found ratings and buzz with revivals of The X-Files, 24 and, later this season, Prison Break. (NBC’s Heroes revival last season, however, was less fortunate.)
Reboots continue to remain in high demand as broadcast, cable and streaming outlets look for proven IP in a bid to cut through a cluttered scripted landscape that is quickly approaching 500 original series. Key to the remakes is having the original producers involved in some capacity (which Will & Grace clearly has) as more studios look to monetize their existing film libraries.
Already in the works this season are reboots of Car Wash (ABC), Sneakers (NBC), Enemy of the State (ABC), Dynasty (The CW), War of the Worlds (MTV), Magnum P.I. (ABC), The Lost Boys (The CW), Varsity Blues (CMT), The Departed (Amazon), Let the Right One In (TNT) and L.A. Law, among others.
Watch the Will & Grace announcement that NBC revealed to critics Wednesday, below.