On Oct. 3, at 8 p.m. CT, NBC will premiere Sean Saves the World. The series stars Sean Hayes, who became a TV icon for his long run as the zany but lovably gay Jack on the show Will & Grace. Sean Saves the World casts Hayes in another gay role: This time he plays ... Sean!
In the new show, Sean is a divorced gay dad who's wisecracking, somewhat jaded teenaged daughter has moved in with him. As he struggles to be the best dad he can be, he also navigates the gay dating pool, deals with the boss from hell, and spars with his overbearing but loving mom.
Linda Lavin, the Emmy-winning star of the classic sitcom Alice, is quite enthusiastic about her role as Sean's mom, Lorna.
"She's a force of nature," Lavin said of Lorna. "She's a very energetic, funny woman, with a strong affection for her son. They see life the same way, and she's very committed to his happiness."
Lavin is confident the new series will succeed, in spite of the failure of last year's The New Normal to connect with viewers. "Sean Saves the World is an identifiable story about a gay single dad as he balances his home and work life," she said. "The New Normal didn't have Sean Hayes: he's an extraordinary talent. I'm delighted to be a part of it. It's a terrific company filled with talented people and talented writers."
The new show is a reunion for Hayes and his other co-star, Megan Hilty. Last year the two were seen in a five-episode story arc on the now-cancelled NBC musical drama Smash.
On Smash, Hayes portrayed Terry Falls, a TV comedian making his Broadway debut in an ill-advised musical adaptation of Dangerous Liaisons. Hilty played Ivy Lynn, a Broadway chorus girl cast opposite Terry in her first lead. The onstage and offstage pairing of Terry and Ivy were both played for broad comedy, and while Smash's ratings may have plummeted, many viewers noted how well Hayes and Hilty worked together. It seemed natural to cast Hilty as Liz, Sean's best friend, on the new series.
"Sean Hayes is magical, incredibly funny, and a nice guy," Hilty said in a brief phone interview with Windy City Times. The actress was less kind when talking about her character.
"Liz is kind of a mess," she said. "She's Sean's best friend, and she talks before she thinks. But she has the best intentions. They met at his wedding to a woman. She was the caterer, and she outed him!"
The actress sees Sean's gayness as incidental to the story. "It's just another detail of who he is," she said. "It's not, 'OMG, he's gay!' He just is. That says a lot about where we are now."
Both Lavin and Hilty expressed their hopes for a long, successful run.
"When you start a new show, you hope for a long life," said Lavin. "You hope for growth, and for a substantial income for those working on the show."
"I hope it runs for a million years," said Hilty. "Or at least seven!"