Everything old is new again. Just ask the cast of “Murphy Brown,” the acclaimed newsroom sitcom that is returning nearly 20 years after an impressive 10- year run from 1988 to 1998 on CBS.
The much anticipated revival premiering Thursday, September 27 on CBS and CBS All Access has multiple Emmy Award winners Candice Bergen as Murphy Brown and series creator Diane English reuniting for the reboot. Also returning are original cast members Faith Ford, Joe Regalbuto and Grant Shaud. All were on hand at the recent Television Critics Association’s summer press tour to talk about why this is the right the time to bring back the ground-breaking comedy.
The series is centered around the fictitious broadcast news legend Murphy Brown, who is now taking her unbridled views on current events to the world of 24-hour cable, social media and a vastly different political climate then she experienced before.
With the nation’s increasing division, fueled by attacks on the press, Murphy decides to return to the airwaves and recruits her FYI team: lifestyle reporter Corky Sherwood (Faith Ford), investigative journalist Frank Fontana (Joe Regalbuto), and her former wunderkind news producer Miles Silverberg (Grant Shaud).
Joining them is social media director Pat Patel (Nik Dodani), who is tasked with bringing Murphy and the team into the 21st century. Murphy’s millennial son, Avery (Jake McDorman), shares his mother’s competitive spirit and quick wit, and is following in her journalistic footsteps. At the end of the day, the dedicated news team still lets off steam at Phil’s Bar, now run by his sister, Phyllis (Tyne Daly).
Drawn back in the game, Murphy is determined to make sure that the lines between “good television” and honest reporting are not blurred. That is the goal of Murphy Brown’s creator Diane English and star Candice Bergen and why they said the time was right to bring back the series and tackle the tough headlines this fall.
What’s the big difference about the old cast doing the show now? “Well, we’re older,” Bergen laughed when she talked to the TV critics, “And Murphy, Corky and Frank are starting a morning show, the three of them, with Miles producing it, and that’s how the first show starts. I think, much like Murphy, Frank and Corky on television, and much like ourselves, they don’t like being sidelined, and they are all in retirement for the last few years. And they want to get back in the action, especially now when there’s so much action. So they just want to be back in the game, and it’s a game that they’re all especially good at. And I want to say that the script for the first episode is so ambitious and so fearless. During the taping, I turned to Joe and said, ‘This show has no fear of anyone.’ We really stick our heads in the lion’s mouth, and it’s handled so brilliantly.”
Executive producer English added, “We’ve always been a political show. We’ve always had something to say. We’ve always had this uncanny ability to look ahead at what might happen and put it in an episode. And the same thing is happening again. Our second episode is right on the money in terms of what’s in the headlines right now. We actually developed an episode on the #MeToo movement that will be our fourth episode. When we left these characters in 1998, there was no internet, no social media. So, to take these characters and put them in the world of 24-hour cable news is very, very rich for us.”
And the storytelling will reflect that motherlode of material.
Margie Barron is a member of the Television Critics Association and has written for a variety of top publications for more than 35 years, and was half of the husband and wife writing team of Margie and Frank Barron.