Sean Hayes NBC comedy landing 'Rescue Me' co-creator (and guess what it's about?) -- EXCLUSIVE

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Sean Hayes’ return to TV just took another big step forward. The project is near a deal to sign Rescue Me co-creator Peter Tolan and his writer partner Michael Wimer — and wait until you hear what it’s about.

Tolan will serve as a writer and executive producer on the show, which will be produced by Universal Media Studios and Sony Pictures TV. EW has also learned the mysterious project’s logline: The untitled family comedy follows two men tasked with raising a 12 year old. If that broadcast sitcom concept sounds familiar, it’s because you haven’t heard the twist yet: The two dads are a gay couple.

Though the Sean Hayes comedy is still in the development stage, getting the former Will & Grace star back in front of the camera is clearly a priority for the network’s new programming chief Robert Greenblatt, who announced the project at the Television Critics Association press tour earlier this month.

Though gay portrayals on TV have made significant strides in recent years, especially thanks to ensemble shows Fox’s Glee and ABC’s Modern Family, a show centered around a gay couple would be unique in the current broadcast TV landscape.

Tolan may be best known in recent years for the edgy Rescue Me, which is ending its seven-season run, but he has plenty of  comedy experience. He has worked on The Larry Sanders Show and Murphy Brown, as well as penned films like Analyze This and Bedazzled.

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  • John

    The “twist” is that they’re ripping off Modern Family and proving that Sean Hayes can only be cast as gay characters?

    • J

      Why is it okay for straight actors to play only straight characters but it’s not okay for gay actors to only play gay? Just because the character is gay, doesn’t mean it’s not original.

      • whatevs

        Because most of the gay characters that exist on TV are flamboyantly so. So it’s not that a gay actor can’t not just play gay characters, but to do so essentially means that he can only portray one personality.

      • Andy

        Thank you, xnu, that’s exactly how I feel about Sean Hayes, spam and all.

      • july

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      • Captain

        @whatevs
        That’s not so much a problem with the actor as a problem with the writers.

    • Wickeddoll

      The “twist” for me, is that they’re finally having a gay actor play a gay character. It’s usually either straight playing gay, or vice-versa.

      • Wickeddoll

        In a lead role, not supporting.

      • SUZIE

        after watching Queer as Folk and trying to guess who was straight and who gay, I guessed all must be gay cuz they were so convincing. But since the show ended I have seen some of the same actors playing straight guys in movies/tv shows and I have to say it’s hard to accept them as straight guys romancing a girl.

    • Squishmar

      Sean Hayes was nominated for a Tony last year for Lead Actor in a Musical for “Promises, Promises” in which he played a straight man.

      • anne

        You’re right and he ws great! Sean shouldn’t be typecast–he’s so talented in many ways and can be convincing in all.

    • stu

      they cast tat cute gay firefighter on Rescue Me.

    • clayton

      so its a rip off cause there rip off cause a gay family is rising a kid? hmmm so straight people rising a kid must be a rip also right?

      • Annie

        Sounds like a rip-off of “My Two Dads,” except swap in Sean Hayes for Paul Reiser.

      • Captain

        It sounded like a rip-off of Two and a Half Men until it was revealed that it was a gay couple (not that, that was surprising given the star). I think that was the point of that line.

    • Tarc

      And after Modern Family ripped this off from 1,000 other sourcesm, this matters how? And ugh, who watches Modern Famaily?

      • wasabi

        Who watches? People who proofread their comments before posting (and like well-written comedies).

      • Troll the Tarc

        Haha Troll got trolled!! Love it!!

    • Chuck

      He’s a gay guy. That’s like saying a black guy shouldn’t play a black guy.

    • Wes

      He’s actually played several straight characters, particularly in his Tony-nominated role in Promises, Promises….although saying that he played a straight man in a play is like saying Woody Allen acted like a Gentile in a synagogue.

    • GeneD

      The twist is they are ripping off “My Two Dads” with Paul Reiser and Greg Evigan. Which ran from 1987 to 1990. The story is exactly the same but with two gay men.

      • Obvious Man Says

        Then don’t you think it sounds different? They wouldn’t be able to recycle old scripts. I don’t recall Paul and Greg ever going down on each other, at least not on camera……

  • Billy

    Poor guy is typecast

    • Devin

      Poor?? he is recieving roles, recieving paychecks… how is this a bad thing??

    • unicornwasp

      did it ever occur to you that perhaps sean hayes likes playing gay roles?

  • Anne

    Um, this concept isn’t exactly new to TV so I don’t know how much “buzz” it will necessarily generate just because of the logline. Modern Family is already a popular comedy on TV that follows a gay male couple raising a child. Rachel on Glee has two gay dads. Ross’s ex-wife on Friends became one half of a lesbian couple raising Ross’ child. And Sean Hayes himself has already done this story on TV, as Jack raised his son on Will and Grace. I’m just saying.

    • Nechelle

      I think the difference is that they will be main characters, instead of supporting. I guess.

    • the_girl

      This will be different because the show will be centered around them, not a) having them as part of a larger ensemble (Mod Fam); b) being two gay dads WHO WE NEVER SEE (Glee); c) being a recurring or guest character (Ross’ ex on Friends); or d) being a single parent (Jack on Will & Grace).
      I get that we have seen gay parents before, but saying we’ve seen it before could be said for any pairing. Having seen it before doesn’t mean it can’t be an interesting concept and a really good show.

      • talya

        you got it

  • satirex

    Sean Hayes has had non-gay roles–such as Jerry Lewis.

  • e4ia

    Several actors (including T.R Knight and NPH) have proven that an openly gay actor can convincingly play a straight role on TV. The challenge with Hayes is that Will & Grace’s “Jack” was such a strong gay character that did have a little reflection of Hayes’ true personality in the performance. It has been burned into our pop culture memory. To see him pull off a convincing straight character on TV would be a huge obstacle for him. Not just because he is an openly gay man, but mostly because the ghost of “Jack” will lurk in the background of every word he spoke and every action he made. But he is such a great TV presence. I’m really looking forward to seeing him on TV again.

    • MarcHon

      Not all gay actors can play straight, just like not all straight actors can play gay.

      Lets not assume either way, ok?

      • Squishmar

        How would you explain Rock Hudson? He was indeed a gay actor playing straight roles in movies, but in his real life, wouldn’t you have to say he was a straight actor (meaning as far as everyone knew and how he was known) playing gay in his real life? I don’t know how I can explain it… But what exactly is “playing straight” or “playing gay” for that matter? What was Heath Ledger doing in “Brokeback Mountain” playing gay? It really wasn’t a “gay” role even though he portrayed a man in love with another man and they had a sexual relationship.

      • e4ia

        Well, I think that most straight actors can play gay (if they don’t have any hang-ups about it) because there really is so many different types of gay people in the world that can match the staight actor’s personality. But I do agree that not all gay actors can play straight. I think my point was that maybe Hayes may have been able to do it before his role as Jack. But now it would be very difficult for him to do it convincingly because, when coupled with the public’s knowledge of Hayes being gay in real life, most viewers will see too much of “Jack” in any performance he does. Hayes the actor isn’t far enough removed from Jack the character for him to shake that persona.

    • Squishmar

      I wonder if David Hyde Pierce would have the same problem? He played a very prissy, but non-gay character for a long time on “Frasier” and it was all before he came out. But I think I’ll always think of Niles Crane when I see him and not that he’s gay…. no matter what role he’s in.

      • e4ia

        David Hyde Pierce seems like he would have the same challenges as Hayes. I think if the public knew he was gay when he originated the role of Niles, it would have been more difficult to buy the character as straight if he portrayed him in the same manner.

      • Danny

        @e4ia – Please tell me you’re the only one who didn’t know that David Hyde Pierce was gay. Niles was a closeted gay character. You didn’t know that? No, it wasn’t stated on the show, but was so strongly implied, you couldn’t miss it. Niles was David’s personality and was obviously gay from day one. Some actors can’t hide their sexual orientation (or don’t try to). Sean and David are two examples.

    • the_girl

      I honestly do not agree that NPH pulls off playing a straight man. There is nothing about his character that is believable.. TO ME.

      • Devin

        Capitalize girl, capitalize!

  • Ed

    While I admit the concept of the show isn’t that original, we can’t really fault it for that. Annually, there are countless sitcoms that focus on the pitfalls of heterosexual relationships, of families, etc. If people are going to complain that the show isn’t original (“We already have that, it’s called Modern Family”), then you’ll have to fault almost every new sitcom because it’s like Friends, or it’s like Everybody Loves Raymond, etc.

  • annie

    As long as it comes on after I put my kids to bed, (no interruptions,lol) I’ll definitely watch! Sean is hillarious! If people keep an open mind it’ll be a hit!

    • Squishmar

      If it has good writing it will be a hit. It already has strikes against it being on NBC.

    • hoganbcmj

      ya, because if your kids saw a show where there are two dads … finish this sentence for me. What horrible thing will happen? Gay parents exist in the real world. How does seeing them on TV register as something you need to protect your kids from? Ridiculous. Just because they’re gay it doesn’t make the show x-rated.

      • BamaPhilip

        Did you even read the post before you left this comment?

      • amyc

        Really, sounds like you’re on here just waiting to be offended. Calm down.

  • gato

    Sounds good to me

  • discobabe

    Would love to see him back on tv, regardless of the role. However, it would be hard to picture him in a straight role. He’s def. typecast.

  • Annette

    Blatant rip-off of 80s cult classic, My Two Dads, only difference is they had a girl. Wait…what…Evigan and Reiser were straight!?! Could have fooled me.

    • Lala

      Completely agree. With every word ;)

    • Gina

      My Two Dads, a cult classic! Thanks for the laugh!

    • Mc Prophet

      I thought the same thing, with a bit of It’s All Relative thrown in. That was a good, underrated show.

      • Bryan

        Thank you! I was waiting for someone to mention It’s All Relative. John Benjamin Hickey and Christopher Sieber played gay dads, so this is not a new concept at all. Although, maybe the twist will be that this show will actually be good.

  • TR

    If the pay is right, I guess you don’t mind being typecast.

    I’m not gay. And I’ve never met any gay guy who is as “gay” as the over-the top characters I see on TV.
    Is it possible Hollywood has a “gay” problem?

    In other words, quit making the characters so sterotypical.
    If a conservative or church group portrayed a gay character as silly as most sitcoms do, they would be boycotted. But it’s seemingly okay for a gay-friendly producer to have gays portrayed in an over the top manner.

    African-American actors would not allow themselves to be cast in a “Amos and Andy” -style comedy.
    But gay actors don’t seem to have problems portraying equally offensive sterotypes.

    • Bobs Yeruncle

      Everybody is different. I’m not gay, but have many gay friends, some of whom are extremely flamboyant and other are quiet, sedated and buttoned down. People are people. Hollywood is out of new ideas, though, or at least they’re unwilling to take the risk to develop anything entirely new…it’s all about the money.

    • Danny

      I am gay. Queer as Folk was very realistic by showing the diversity of personalities gay dudes have. I haven’t seen a show since that offers the same realism. I don’t have flamboyant friends, because I’m not into it and I like things that most of those guys”typically” don’t (football, hiking, etc,). Most of my friends are not gay and I like hanging out with them.

      I didn’t like Sean’s “Jack” at first because of his mannerisms. He was a bit “cartoonish” in contrast to “Will’s” more convincing character. However, because Jack was so hilarious, I let my guard down. I don’t mind being gay, but I don’t like flaunting it. Jack and I couldn’t be more opposite, but I still liked him.

      There are times that shows are created with a specific actor in mind. I think this show is among them. Sean is the type of actor that a show can be built around, which is what I believe happened here. He will “own” the character just like he did Jack and I’m sure we’ll be able to let go of that, depending on how he treats his new character.

  • ian

    these comments are vomit inducing.

    • Gina

      If the comments are making u sick ian, stop reading them! DUH!

  • Richard

    A gay couple with a child is not that new – In 2003, “It’s All Relative” had a gay couple played by two openly gay actors – Jon Benjamin Hickey and Christopher Sieber. That show had ensemble cast, and their “child” was an adult (Sieber was too young for the role).
    I do hope they get another gay actor for the other dad – Luke Macfarlane, Malcolm Gets, Cheyenne Jackson, Jonathan Slavin, Robert Gant, for example.

    • Squishmar

      Bit of a double standard there, eh? Wouldn’t it have been so much better had Neil Patrick Harris’ Barney been played by a straight actor since the character is so obviously straight? No? It’s called acting. And while I think they probably will cast a gay actor in the role, it really shouldn’t be a factor as so many openly gay men complain about the reverse side of that discriminatory coin.

      • Richard

        Probably a bit of a double standard, but I am tired of almost every interview with Eric Stonestreet having a part about him being a straight actor playing a gay character, while the interviews with Neil Patrick Harris rarely bring up the converse fact. I also think that a straight actor playing a gay role, especially in a TV series, can sometimes unfairly be a de facto spokesperson for a community that he is not actually a part of. And, of course, the best actor for the role should get the job, regardless of sexual orientation, but I can still hope that an openly gay actor gets the role.

    • satirex

      The article says this is a gay couple “tasked” with raising a 12 year old, which implies that the child isn’t theirs.

    • Flyer

      Jonathan Slavin was brilliant in “Better Off Ted.” I’d love to see him back on TV every week.

  • Trisha

    Forget the gay typecasting nonsense – RESCUE ME was good – but I wouldn’t exactly call ANALYSE THIS and BEDAZZLED calling cards for good writing…have serious doubts about this show.

  • googie

    Who cares if they’re gay on the show! If thses actors want to work and the script is good, SO WHAT! I’ll watch and so will my family.

    • Dave

      POINT WELL MADE GOOGIE !

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