NBC’s ‘Hairspray Live!’ adds Sean Hayes, Rosie O’Donnell
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — A roundup of news from the Television Critics Association summer meeting, at which TV networks and streaming services are presenting details on upcoming programs.
“HAIRSPRAY” PLUS TWO
Sean Hayes and Rosie O’Donnell are joining the cast of NBC’s “Hairspray Live!”
Hayes will take on the role of dress shop owner Mr. Pinky, while O’Donnell will play a tough gym teacher in the production set to air in December, the network said Tuesday.
They join a cast that represents a “slew” of Oscar, Emmy and Tony award winners, said Robert Greenblatt, NBC Entertainment chairman. That includes Harvey Fierstein, reprising his Tony Award-winning role as Edna Turnblad in the Broadway production that premiered in 2004.
The musical also stars Kristin Chenoweth, Jennifer Hudson, Derek Hough, Martin Short and pop star Ariana Grande, who said that she didn’t want more solos than the part provides.
“It’s a dream come true for me. ... I love Penny and it’s a great honor to play her, so I don’t want any special icing,” Grande said.
Hudson, who’s gone from “American Idol” to movie and stage star, said she was “definitely nervous” about the prospect of working on live TV, and this after surviving her Broadway debut last year in “The Color Purple.”
SEE HER ON “BLINDSPOT”
Archie Panjabi of “The Good Wife” is getting back into series TV with “Blindspot” and out of her comfort zone.
“I have always wanted to do an action-based TV show,” she said. When contacted about the NBC drama, “my first reaction was, ‘Gosh, I’d be terrified to do something like that,’ which is why I finally decided I wanted to do it.”
Panjabi, who played investigator Kalinda Sharma on CBS’ “The Good Wife,” was asked if her recurring “Blindspot” character would carry Kalinda’s air of mystery. The actress was suitably mysterious in her reply, saying she didn’t want to “give away too much.”
She was even more circumspect when asked about her tenure on “Good Wife,” which was marked by reports that she and star Julianna Margulies had a tense relationship. She said she loved playing Kalinda and had a “great time on the show,” which she won an Emmy for in 2010 and left in 2015. “Good Wife” ended its run this year.
“In terms of anything that happened on ‘The Good Wife,’ it’s only respectful for it to stay on ‘The Good Wife.’ It was time for me, for many reasons, to unzip the boots and step into another show,” Panjabi said, referring to Kalinda’s fondness for thigh-high boots.
“Blindspot” will return for its sophomore season at 10 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 14, then move to its new regular time slot week later at 8 p.m. EDT.
THE “PLACE” TO BE
The Good Place is that slice of afterlife where you can shop at a store called Everything Fits and where expletives are automatically toned down into “shirt for brains” or “forking.”
That’s the setting for “The Good Place,” an upcoming NBC sitcom starring Kristen Bell as a not-so-good girl who dies and arrives there through a clerical error. Ted Danson stars as her afterlife mentor who will help her fit in.
Along the way, the show will incorporate “cliffhangers, big events and things that change in every episode,” said Michael Schur, the show’s creator, who added that his model is a comedy version of “Lost.”
The Good Place is an exclusive domain, where only one out of every 450 humans gains admission, Schur said, which sparked this question to the gathered cast members: Had any of them ever wondered what heaven would be like?
William Jackson Harper, who plays a fellow Good Place resident, replied by recalling his childhood idea of a really good place: “No bees.”
“The Good Place” premieres Sept. 19.
90 IS THE NEW 40
NBC is celebrating Tony Bennett’s 90th birthday with a star-filled tribute airing in December.
Aretha Franklin, Lady Gaga, Steve Wonder and k.d. lang are among those who will perform with the pop singer, the network said Tuesday. Other stars taking part are Andrea Bocelli, Michael Buble, Billy Joel, Elton John, Diana Krall and Rufus Wainwright.
Actors also will be on hand to salute Bennett, including Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Kevin Spacey, John Travolta and Bruce Willis, with more participants for the two-hour program to be announced, NBC said.
“I turn 90 tomorrow and feel like I’m just getting started and look forward to each day,” Bennett said in a statement Tuesday. “I have loved performing for the public and sharing the music I love with the world.”
“Tony Bennett Celebrates 90: The Best Is Yet to Come,” will air Dec. 20.
ROUND 2 FOR COWELL
Simon Cowell will be back in front of the cameras for “America’s Got Talent” next season.
Cowell, who created the show’s format in Britain, is returning for his second round as a judge, NBC said Tuesday.
He’ll be reunited with Mel B, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel, who’s the longest-serving judge with seven seasons behind him. Nick Cannon will be back as host.
NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said Cowell’s addition has boosted the panel’s chemistry. The talent show is drawing more viewers this summer than over the last five seasons, the network said.
The tart-tongued Cowell first made his reputation on U.S. television as a judge on “American Idol.”
FALLON GOING GLOBAL
Jimmy Fallon will be in charge of the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.
Fallon will host the three-hour ceremony that’s scheduled to air Jan. 8 on NBC, the network said Tuesday.
Host of NBC’s “Tonight Show,” Fallon has a playful humor that’s a good match for the “spontaneous and uninhibited” awards show, NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said.
Fallon takes over from last year’s host, Ricky Gervais, whose biting style of humor brought groans as well as laughs.