TORONTO — When “Will & Grace” debuted in 1998 there was “almost nothing” in terms of backlash over a network sitcom featuring gay characters, says star Eric McCormack.
“The show sort of became de rigueur, like everyone got used to the fact that ‘Will & Grace’ was around,” the Toronto native said Thursday as Corus Entertainment unveiled its programming for next season, including an updated version of ”Will & Grace” on Global.
“By season 5, let’s say, nothing surprised anybody…. I got married to Taye Diggs. I made out with Taye Diggs at 9 o’clock on a Thursday night in 2004 or whatever it was and nobody batted an eye…. Thirteen years ago, a black man and a white man were kissing on a sitcom and nobody wrote about it, the press was over us by then.”
Now, as the comedy readies for a return with the same cast, McCormack wonders what the reaction will be given growing political tensions and concern by advocacy groups over LGBTQ rights under the Trump administration in the U.S.
“A lot of what we did just kind of got accepted, and so it’s insane right now to listen to some of the anti-gay crap that’s going on in the States and think, ‘Have we all forgotten that only 13 years ago this was just another day in paradise? That we had a president for eight years that would carry a rainbow flag down the hall on Gay Pride Day?’
“We have forgotten very quickly. So I think … that well-meaning, well-thinking people everywhere kind of went, ‘Yes, we kind of need this again. It isn’t just nostalgia. We kind of need a show that is actively in your face, funny gay.’”
“Will & Grace” and ”Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders” are among the new series heading to Global this fall, while the Amazon hit “Transparent” will air on Showcase, and “Mozart in the Jungle” and “The Bachelor Canada” join W Network.
Other Global highlights, which were announced earlier this week, include “S.W.A.T.” with Shemar Moore and the military drama “SEAL Team” with David Boreanaz.
“Big Brother Canada” won’t be returning next year, after five seasons on the air.
“We feel we’d done what we wanted to do there, we felt we wanted to continue to try new things in the Canadian space,” said Barb Williams, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Corus Entertainment, noting the company has several new shows in development.
“So we’ve said at this point we won’t do another ‘Big Brother’ next year. Never ever say never.”
“Big Brother Canada” fans who’ve started online campaigns to save the show have an unlikely celebrity ally: ”Saturday Night Live” alum Bobby Moynihan.
“I’m not happy (the show) has been put on hold,” Moynihan said during a stop in Toronto this week to promote his upcoming new comedy “Me, Myself and I,” which will air on CTV this fall.
“The Canada one is better than the American one, I think. Well, as far as production value. Huge fan. Please bring it back.”
Other Corus shows not returning include “Chopped Canada,” ”Yukon Gold” and “Timber Kings.”
Returning series include “Mary Kills People,” “Private Eyes” and “NCIS: Los Angeles,” which is entering its ninth season.
“I’m just having fun and enjoying myself. I’m a little boy playing cops and robbers,” said LL Cool J, Grammy-winning rapper and star of “NCIS: Los Angeles.”
“I was watching ‘Batman and Robin’ (as a kid), I had the towel in my T-shirt and my T-shirt tucked in my underwear jumping over refrigerator boxes. I love it.”