Will, Grace...and Harry?!
Wed Nov 27, 6:30 PM ET
By Bridget Byrne
Is NBC preparing for Will & Grace & Leo?
The network has confirmed it's in talks to to make Harry Connick Jr. a regular cast member on the network's Thursday night sitcom Will & Grace.
The news comes just days after Connick's character, the alleged doctor Leo, walked the aisle with Debra Messing's Grace in the show's supersized 100th episode.
What seemed like a November sweeps stunt--having Grace impetuously don a bridal grown to swap "I dos" with Leo--now may turn into a complete shift in the show's dynamic, with network execs suddenly wedded to the idea of keeping Connick around to further tangle up the quirky, sexually confused relationship between Grace and Eric McCormack's Will.
During a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, NBC's entertainment president Jeff Zucker called the addition of Connick's character "brilliant," saying it added some much-needed juice to the sitcom's stagnating mix. With the show renewed into 2005, Connick could continue to create havoc.
Of course, all hinges on whether the actor-crooner goes along with the demands of a full-time sitcom gig. NBC says negotiations are still in the early stages.
Meanwhile, there may be some providence for Providence. Zucker, who had previously announced the drama would be axed before Christmas, seems to have had pre-Thanksgiving change of heart.
"I'm not afraid to admit I may have made a mistake, and we'll see," he said, suggesting the show might not be relegated to TV-land oblivion so soon.
Zucker had declared Providence over and done with back in October, making it the network's first cancellation of the fall season even though the NBC Website continued to refer to the earnest emotional drama as the "cornerstone" of the Peacock's Friday night lineup.
NBC announced Providence would wrap things up on a two-hour series finale, airing December 20.
But the show, which was the top-rated midseason drama when it debuted in January 1999, has held on in the ratings. Last week, it ranked a respectable enough 41st in the Nielsens (although it didn't hold the interest of the younger viewers networks are so crazy about).
Now, promos for the wrap-up show (in which Melina Kanakeredes' altruistic Dr. Sydney Hansen is finally supposed to get married) are simply referring to it as a "finale," implying it could be just the end of this season's episodes.
Filming concludes in Los Angeles next week. (Yes, even though the show is called Providence and set in Rhode Island, it's shot in Hollywood.)
According to an NBC rep, the earliest Providence could return to the schedule is next fall, since Kanakeredes is expecting her second child early in the New Year, and the network has already scheduled the political drama Mister Sterling for Providence's 8 p.m. Friday time slot beginning January 10.
If Mister Sterling, which stars Josh Brolin as a young senator, fails to find a constituency, or if NBC feels its 2003 fall schedule needs some padding, Providence could be in luck.