Will & Grace
|Will & Grace|
|Created by||David Kohan
|Directed by||James Burrows|
|Theme music composer||Jonathan Wolff|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||194 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Alex Herschlag|
|Location(s)||Stage 17, CBS Studio Center, Los Angeles|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Production company(s)||KoMut Entertainment
3 Sisters Entertainment
NBC Studios (1998-2004)
NBC Universal Television Studio (2004-2006)
Warner Bros. Television Distribution (us reruns)
MGM International Television Distribution (non us reruns)
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)
Dolby Digital 5.1
|Original run||September 21, 1998– May 18, 2006|
Will & Grace is an American television sitcom, originally based on the relationship between William Truman and Grace Adler, and is set in New York City. It was broadcast on NBC from September 21, 1998 to May 18, 2006 for a total of eight seasons. Will & Grace was during its original run the most successful television series with gay principal characters. It still enjoys success in syndication.
Despite initial criticism for its particular portrayal of homosexual characters, it went on to become a staple of NBC's Must See TV Thursday night lineup. It was ensconced in the Nielsen top 20 for half of its network run. The show was the highest-rated sitcom among adults 18–49, from 2001 and 2005. Throughout its eight-year run, Will & Grace earned 16 Emmy Awards and 83 nominations.
Will & Grace was filmed in front of a live studio audience (most episodes and scenes) on Tuesday nights, at Stage 17 in CBS Studio Center, a space that totals 14,000 sq ft (1,300 m2). Will and Grace's apartment is on display at the Emerson College Library, having been donated by series creator Max Mutchnick.
A long-running legal battle between both the original executive producers and creators and NBC took place between 2003 and 2007. All seasons of the series have been released on DVD and the show has been broadcast in more than 60 countries.
Will & Grace was set in New York City and focused on the relationship between Will Truman, a gay lawyer, and his best friend Grace Adler, a Jewish woman who owned an interior design firm. Also featured were their friends Karen Walker, a rich socialite, and Jack McFarland, a struggling gay actor/singer/dancer who also has had numerous other brief careers.
Cast and characters
- Eric McCormack as Will Truman: A gay lawyer who studied at Columbia University, where he met Grace. They have been best friends ever since. He had a very neurotic side, especially when it came to cleaning. Several characters commented that his relationship with Grace is more like that of a romantic couple than of two friends.
- Debra Messing as Grace Adler: An interior decorator with an apparent obsession with food, who has been Will's best friend since college. Messy and neurotic, she often plays as a counter-balance for Will's more uptight nature.
- Megan Mullally as Karen Walker: The seemingly bisexual wife of the wealthy (but never seen) Stan Walker. She "works" as Grace's assistant making "Grace Adler Designs" popular among her socialite acquaintances. Known for abusing alcohol and prescription medication she can be insensitive bordering on abusive, but is close to Grace and Jack, and throughout the show's run becomes closer to Will.
- Sean Hayes as Jack McFarland: Will's other best friend. Jack is flamboyantly gay, flighty and superficial. He drifts from man to man and changes occupations often, having worked as a struggling actor, an acting teacher, back-up dancer, a sales associate at Banana Republic and Barney's Department Store, cater-waiter, student nurse, and the host of a talk show called "Jack Talk". Early on in the show he establishes a close friendship with Karen. Jack made four one man shows (called "Just Jack", "Jack 2000," " Jack 2001," and "Jack 2002") to showcase his singing/dancing/acting abilities.
- Shelley Morrison as Rosario Salazar (Seasons 3–8, recurring previously): Karen's maid, Rosario was working as a cigarette lady when Karen hired her in 1985. In the first several episodes she is not seen, but known only by name as Karen shouts racially-insensitive orders to her over the phone. She was briefly married to Jack so she would not be deported. Rosario and Karen had a love/hate relationship where sometimes they would yell and argue with each other but when the fight was over it would usually end with a light-hearted exchange between them.
- Gary Grubbs as Harlin Polk (Season 1, guest thereafter): Will's former client, when he had his own law firm.
- Michael Angarano as Elliot (Season 4, recurring seasons 3, 5-8): Jack's biological son from a donation to a sperm bank.
Will & Grace's relationship
During the third season of the show, it is revealed through flashback scenes that Will and Grace first met at Columbia University in 1985, living across the hall from one another in a dorm. They instantly connected and soon began dating. Later, Jack, who was still in high school, crashed a Dorm Party held by Will, after which Jack accuses Will of being in denial about his sexual orientation. Will proposes to Grace to postpone sleeping with her, but finally comes out to her. Grace throws him out of her family's house and they do not speak for a year (Grace having moved off campus), but they accidentally ran into each other again on Thanksgiving 1986, at D'Agostino's supermarket. This meeting spurred a reconciliation and they became best friends.
In the pilot episode of the show, Grace was about to get married to her boyfriend Danny. When Will disapproved, she became angry and planned to get married secretly anyway. However on the way to the wedding she realizes that Will was right, and she leaves Danny. Needing an apartment, she moved in with Will in his apartment on the Upper West Side. Will and Grace spend a lot of time with one another as well as with friends Jack McFarland and Karen Walker.
Jack is a flamboyant, gay, struggling stage actor-singer-dancer who, over the course of the show, has a range of jobs including cater waiter, acting teacher, student nurse, retail sales (working for Banana Republic and Barneys), back-up dancer for singers such as Jennifer Lopez and Janet Jackson and TV producer. Karen, an alcoholic multimillionaire, works as Grace's assistant, a job she took to have time away from the home she shares with her husband Stan and his kids, Mason and Olivia. Another character who factored into the early episodes of Will & Grace was Will's client Harlin Polk, played by Gary Grubbs. At first he was given billing in the opening credits with the other four cast members, but interest in his storyline waned, and he was written out of the show early in the second season (Harlin, rather reluctantly, fired Will and hired another lawyer).
The show follows both Will and Grace's attempts to establish romantic relationships without sacrificing their often co-dependent reliance on one another for emotional support. A common joke finds Jack and Karen referring to Will and Grace as married, "non-romantic life partners", or "sexless lovers". At the beginning of the second season Grace moved into her own apartment (across the hall from Will's) in an attempt to put some distance between herself and Will, but then ended up moving back at the beginning of the third season. She moved out again after getting married early in the fifth season, but she moved back in with Will after separating from her husband during Season 6.
Grace had several lovers on the show, portrayed by actors such as Woody Harrelson and Edward Burns. Frequently, her lovers feel frustrated by her relationship with Will, jealous of their closeness, personal jokes, and ability to finish each other's sentences. Eventually she married Leo, played by musician and actor Harry Connick, Jr.. Leo was unusual in that Grace's friendship with Will seemed not to bother him, despite Will's initial dislike of him. Leo in fact often looked to Will in order to help him deal with Grace's neurotic behavior. Furthermore, at one point, when Grace was extremely upset about Leo's upcoming six-month absence, she asked if Will could sleep (platonically) with them, and Leo responded with good humor, saying, "I knew this was going to happen one day." They split in the finale of the show's sixth season after Grace discovered that Leo had had an adulterous affair while working with Doctors Without Borders in Cambodia. In the final season, on a flight to London, Grace meets Leo on the plane where they have sex, resulting in Grace becoming pregnant, which she keeps a secret from him, upon finding that he plans to remarry. In the series finale (May 2006), however, Leo tells a heavily pregnant Grace that he loves her and broke off his engagement. They subsequently raise their daughter, Lila, together having gotten remarried.
Will was usually less successful romantically, having the occasional one-episode fling, but never a long-term relationship. This eventually drew some criticism from those who noted that Grace was often shown being affectionate with her dates and boyfriends, while Will rarely was. In the first season, it is mentioned that Will had a seven-year relationship with a man named Michael, but this partnership ended before the series began. During the early seasons Will only had one relationship that could be constituted as 'long-term', with a sports broadcaster, Matthew played by Patrick Dempsey. Their relationship was portrayed in a total of three episodes, before Will ended it over Matthew's refusal to come out, particularly to his homophobic boss. There is a brief moment at the end of season 5 where Will and Jack wake up together naked in the same bed on Karen's Yacht after a night of drinking, at the beginning of season 6 they go through a whole episode of freaking out until Karen reveals to them that the security camera for their room showed that they didn't do anything. Will does not have any more serious long-term love interests until the spring of 2004 when the character of Vince, an Italian American New York City Police Department officer played by Bobby Cannavale, was introduced. Their relationship lasted until the spring of 2005, when Vince lost his job and the two decided to "take a break" resulting in an unofficial but obvious break-up. Will then met James, supposedly by fate, at a movie theater and again in Los Angeles. Just as they started to get close, however, James discovered he was going to be deported. To give Will and James a chance, Grace agreed to marry James to help him avoid deportation. This plan, along with James' relationship with Will, was short-lived when it was revealed he was a major jerk, who seemed completely cruel towards other people. He was played by Rent star Taye Diggs. However in the final season, Will was reunited with Vince, and the two would eventually get married and raise a son together, named Ben.
Jack, whose floundering one-person show and acting career has been established as a hopeless dream, eventually finds work in retail sales and married (and later divorced) Karen's maid and longtime friend Rosario Salazar to help her gain U.S. residency (green card). It was also revealed that he had a teenage biological son named Elliott, played by Michael Angarano. Elliott was conceived through artificial insemination and mothered by Bonnie, a lesbian played by Rosie O'Donnell. Jack unlike the others, does not attempt to stay in long-term relationships, but instead shallowly jumps from boyfriend to boyfriend. Jack's longest relationship is with Stuart Lamarack (Dave Foley), which lasts several months during the sixth season, during which Jack sees him at the movies with another man and assumes that Stuart is cheating on him. Jack finds out later that the other man was actually Stuart's son. Ironically, their relationship ends when Jack cheats on Stuart, who is not seen again. He ends up spending the rest of his life living with Karen, in a purely platonic relationship that ironically is similar to Will and Grace, who they both mocked for living together.
Karen is the only member of the cast to be in a married relationship at the start of the series. Her husband, Stanley Walker, is described as an extremely wealthy and overweight man with some unusual sexual tastes, who gives a lot of business to Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Although Karen often insults Stan and implies she married him for his money, the truth is she was hopelessly devoted and in love with Stan. Jailed during season four for tax fraud, Stan was released in season five, but Karen soon caught him cheating on her with his British mistress Lorraine Finster (played by Minnie Driver), whom he met when she worked in the prison cafeteria. During Stan and Karen's divorce proceedings at the end of season five, Stan dropped dead, and season six saw Karen begin dating again, culminating in her 20-minute-long marriage to Lorraine's father, Lyle (played by John Cleese, who went uncredited). At the end of the seventh season, it was revealed that Stan had faked his death, and, in season eight, he and Karen reconciled after her brief affair with a government agent (played by Alec Baldwin). However, by the end of the show, Karen finds that she had fallen out of love with Stan and leaves him for good, at which point it is revealed that everything he owned was on loan, rendering Karen's huge divorce settlement worthless. However, she gets Jack to be "company" to Beverly Leslie, who was left a huge amount of money from his late wife, Crystal. When Beverly accidentally is swept off the balcony in a strong wind, he leaves Jack all his money, which he uses to support Karen and himself in luxury.
In season five, Will and Grace experience their first big fight since the series began. Will and Grace decided to have a child together via artificial insemination. However, she meets and falls in love with Dr. Leo Markus and becomes unsure about continuing with the plan. Will and Grace argue about if she still wants to have the baby and she eventually decides she is against the idea. Will then accuses Grace of being a flake. Jack and Karen lock them into a ride, and after much arguing, they do make up. In season eight, Grace is pregnant with Leo's baby from their mile-high adventure, but she never has a chance to tell Leo as he is getting married. Will was going to help raise her child until the finale, in which Grace does tell Leo she's pregnant with his baby, and the audience sees Will open the door to the apartment. It is implied that they have words and decide to end their friendship. They go two years without speaking until another scheme of Karen and make friends again. Though reconciling, they are too busy raising their respective children, and find it hard to find time for one another until many years later when their children meet in college and begin a romantic relationship of their own. Eventually they become in-laws when their children marry.
Creators of Will & Grace and real-life friends Max Mutchnick and David Kohan modeled the show after Mutchnick's relationship with childhood friend Janet Eisenberg, a New York voice-over casting agent. Mutchnick, who is openly gay, met Eisenberg while rehearsing a play at Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills, California at age of 13. He was the main star of the Hebrew school musical, while she was a student in the drama department. About three years later, she introduced him to Kohan, the son of comedy writer Alan Kohan, in the drama department at Beverly Hills High School. "Max and Janet seemed to have a lovely rapport, but the romantic element confused me, and it confused them as well," Kohan later recalled. "They went out for a couple of years, then they went off to different colleges. And Max comes out of the closet, springs it on her -- and she was stunned. It was a shocking revelation for her, so I kind of functioned as a liaison between the two of them, because they both still really loved each other."
While Kohan practiced his shuttle diplomacy, he and Mutchnick began developing sitcom ideas, which prompted the pair to start writing as a duo. They eventually landed staff jobs on HBO's adult-themed sitcom Dream On and executive produced the short-living NBC sitcom Boston Common. In 1997, they developed an ensemble comedy about six friends, two of them based on Mutchnick and Eisenberg. At the same time, Warren Littlefield, the then-president of NBC Entertainment, was seeking another relationship comedy for the network as Mad About You was going off the air. When Kohan and Mutchnick pitched their idea, which centered on a three couples, one of which was a gay man living with a straight woman, Littlefield was not excited about the first two couples, but wanted to learn more about the gay and straight couple, so Mutchnick and Kohan was sent to create a pilot script centering on those two characters. While Kohan and Mutchnick elaborated on the pilot script, they spent four tense months faxing Littlefield the box office grosses from hit films with gay characters such as The Birdcage and My Best Friend's Wedding.
NBC were positive about the project, but there was still some concern that the homosexual subject matter would cause alarm. Ellen DeGeneres's sitcom Ellen that aired on ABC was canceled the year before Will & Grace premiered because ratings had plummeted after the show became "too gay". Despite the criticism ABC received for DeGeneres's coming out episode, "The Puppy Episode", "there's no question that show made it easier for Will & Grace to make it on the air," said Kohan. He added: "Will & Grace had a better shot at succeeding where Ellen failed, however, because Will has known about his homosexuality for twenty years. He's not exploring that awkward territory for the first time as Ellen did. The process of self-discovery and the pain most gay men go through is fascinating, but the average American is put off by it."
NBC went to sitcom director James Burrows to see what he thought of the homosexual subject matter and if an audience would be interested in the show. Burrows liked the idea and when he first read the script in November 1997, he decided that he wanted to direct it. Burrows said, "I knew that the boys had captured a genre and a group of characters I have never read before." The filming of the pilot began in March 1998. The actors behind Will and Grace, Eric McCormack and Debra Messing, were positive about the series and they thought it had the potential to last long on television. McCormack said: "When shooting was finished that night, Debra and I were sitting on the couch and looking at each other and I said, ‘We’re gonna be on this set for a while.’ And we sort of clasped hands, but we didn’t want to say anything beyond that and jinx it."
The part of Will Truman went to Eric McCormack, who was the first actor cast in the series. Having played gay characters several times in his career, McCormack did not have a problem with it and thought his character could become a "poster boy for some gay movement", like DeGeneres became a spokesperson with her character. Sean Hayes was invited to audition for Jack after a NBC casting executive saw him in a role in the indie gay romance film Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss. Even though Hayes enjoyed the script when he read it, he threw it away and decided not to try out for the audition until he was sent the script again. Megan Mullally initially auditioned for the role of Grace Adler, but admitted that she did not want to audition for the part of Karen. By contrast, Debra Messing, with whom Mullally had first worked on Ned & Stacey, was initially unsure if she wanted to play the role of Grace. The last actor to be cast, she later admitted that director Burrows was the reason for doing Will & Grace.
The show garnered a fair amount of criticism and negative reviews upon its debut in 1998, most of which compared the show to the recently canceled ABC sitcom Ellen. Some called it "a gay Seinfeld. One such review said, "If Will & Grace can somehow survive a brutal time period opposite football and Ally McBeal, it could grow into a reasonably entertaining little anomaly -- that is, a series about a man and a woman who have no sexual interest in one another. But don't bet on it. If it's doomed relationships viewers want, they'll probably opt for Ally." As popular as the show came to be, particularly among gay viewers, Will & Grace continually dealt with criticism for having a limited view of the gay community and for reinforcing stereotypes when some felt it should have torn them down.
The series finale was heavily promoted by NBC, and McCormack, Messing, Mullally and Hayes appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Today Show to bid farewell, on May 10 and May 18, respectively. NBC devoted a two-hour block in its primetime schedule on May 18, 2006, for the Will & Grace send-off. An hour-long series retrospective, "Say Goodnight, Gracie", featuring interviews with the cast, crew, and guest stars, preceded the hour-long series finale. Series creators and executive producers Kohan and Mutchnick, who had not served as writers since the season 4 finale, penned the script for "The Finale." Regarding the finale, Mutchnick stated, "We wrote about what you want to have happen with people you love... All the things that matter in life, they end up having."
Awards and nominations
Will & Grace was nominated for 83 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning 16 of them. The show is one of only three sitcoms along with All in the Family and The Golden Girls, in which all actors playing the main characters — McCormack, Messing, Hayes, and Mullally — have each won at least one acting Emmy. Mullally won second-time for her performance in 2006, a year when Will & Grace was nominated for 10 Emmys for its final season. The year before, the show had garnered 15 nominations, tied with Desperate Housewives as the series receiving the most nominations. This was almost an all-time record; the two shows were second behind The Larry Sanders Show, with 16 nominations in 1996.
With three each, both Hayes and Mullally held the record of winning the most Screen Actors Guild Awards for the categories Best Performance by an Actor in a Comedy Series and Best Performance by an Actress in a Comedy Series, respectively, for their roles in Will & Grace; however, Tina Fey went on to tie with Mullally and Alec Baldwin went on to surpass Hayes, both for their roles on the series 30 Rock. Will & Grace has won several GLAAD Media Awards for its advocacy of the gay community. Despite more than two dozen nominations, Will & Grace never won a Golden Globe Award.
The show debuted on Mondays beginning on September 21, 1998 and steadily gained in popularity, culminating when it moved to Thursday night as part of NBC's Must See TV line-up. The show ultimately became a highly rated television show in the United States, earning a top-twenty rating during four of its eight seasons, including one season at # 9. From 2001–2005, Will & Grace was the highest-rated sitcom among adults 18–49. However, when the show lost Friends as its lead-in after the 2003–04 season, Will & Grace began shedding viewers and slipped out of the top 20 during its last two seasons.
"The Finale" drew over 18 million viewers, ranking # 8 for the week, easily making it the most watched episode of the final two seasons. While the series finale is considered a ratings success, it is far from being the most watched episode of Will & Grace—that accolade remains with the season four episode "A Chorus Lie", which aired on February 7, 2002 and ranked #8 for the week. When the show was at the height of its popularity (seasons 3–5), ranking in the Top 10 was a common occurrence, but the finale's Top 10 rank was the only such rank for season 8 and the first such rank since the season 7 premiere "FYI: I Hurt, Too".
Average seasonal ratings
|Season||TV season||Timeslot (EDT)||Season Premiere||Season Finale||Rank||Viewers
|1||1998–99||Monday 9:30 P.M. (September 21, 1998 – November 30, 1998)
Tuesday 9:30 P.M. (December 15, 1998 – March 23, 1999)
Thursday 8:30 P.M. (April 8, 1999 – May 13, 1999)
|September 21, 1998||May 13, 1999||40||12.3|
|2||1999–2000||Tuesday 9:00 P.M.||September 21, 1999||May 23, 2000||44||12.0|
|3||2000–01||Thursday 9:00 P.M.||October 12, 2000||May 17, 2001||14||17.3|
|4||2001–02||Thursday 9:00 P.M.||September 27, 2001||May 16, 2002||9||17.3|
|5||2002–03||Thursday 9:00 P.M.||September 26, 2002||May 15, 2003||11||16.8|
|6||2003–04||Thursday 9:00 P.M. (September 25, 2003 – January 22, 2004)
Thursday 8:32 P.M. (February 10, 2004 – April 8, 2004)
Thursday 9:00 P.M. (April 22, 2004 – April 29, 2004)
|September 25, 2003||April 29, 2004||16||15.2|
|7||2004–05||Thursday 8:30 P.M. (September 16, 2004 - May 5, 2005)
Tuesday 8:00 P.M. (May 10, 2005)
Thursday 8:30 P.M. (May 19, 2005)
|September 16, 2004||May 19, 2005||44||10.0|
|8||2005–06||Thursday 8:30 P.M. (September 29, 2005 – December 8, 2005)
Thursday 8:00 P.M. (January 5, 2006 – May 18, 2006)
|September 29, 2005||May 18, 2006||61||8.7|
The series was the first prime-time television series on U.S. terrestrial television to star openly-homosexual lead characters, signalling the highest-profile presence of LGBT characters on U.S. broadcast television since Ellen's eponymous lead character's coming-out in the 1997 "Puppy Episode". It has also been heralded as responsible for opening the door to a string of gay-themed television programs, such as Queer as Folk, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Boy Meets Boy.
In May 2012, during a Meet the Press interview with host David Gregory, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden cited the series as an influence in American thinking regarding LGBT rights, saying "I think 'Will & Grace' did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has ever done. People fear that which is different. Now they're beginning to understand." In the same interview, Biden stated that he was "absolutely comfortable" with same-sex marriage, a statement which was followed on May 9 by President Barack Obama speaking in favor of it. The day after Obama's statement, series co-creator Mutchnick later told CBS This Morning that Biden had spoken similar words at a private function which Mutchnick and his husband had attended two weeks prior to Biden's statement, although a White House official was cited by CBS This Morning's Bill Plante as asserting that the Meet the Press interview was not a "trial balloon" for the statement. Both Mutchnick and Kohan praised Biden's statement, but were critical of Obama's stance on marriage during the time between Biden's and Obama's statements.
In December 2003, in the midst of the series' sixth season, executive producers and creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick sued NBC and NBC studios. Alleging that the network sold the rights to the series in an attempt to keep profits within the NBC family, Kohan and Mutchnick felt that they were cheated out of considerable profits by the network's shopping of the show to the highest bidder. Another allegation against the network was that during the first four seasons of the series, the studio licensed the rights for amounts that were insufficient for covering production costs, thus leading to extraordinarily large production deficits. Three months later, NBC filed a countersuit against Kohan and Mutchnick stating that the co-creators were expected to act as an independent third party in the negotiations between NBC and its subsidiary, NBC Studios.
With a pending lawsuit and production beginning on other projects, Kohan and Mutchnick were absent on the Will & Grace set for most of its final seasons. They wrote the season 4 episode, "A Buncha White Chicks Sittin' Around Talkin'" and did not return to the writers' seat until the series finale four years later. Three years after NBC's countersuit and one year after the series ended, the legal battle between NBC and Kohan and Mutchnick ended in 2007 when all parties agreed on a settlement, with the series creators being awarded $49 million, of their original $65 million lawsuit.
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has released all eight seasons of Will & Grace on DVD in Region 1, 2 and 4. The show was re-released and re-packaged on October 3, 2011 on region 2.
|1||22||4||August 12, 2003||August 30, 2004||September 5, 2007||22 uncut episodes|
|2||24||4||March 23, 2004||August 30, 2004||September 5, 2007||
|3||25||4||September 7, 2004||August 30, 2004||October 3, 2007||
|4||27||4||August 16, 2005||August 30, 2004||October 3, 2007||27 uncut episodes|
|5||24||4||August 29, 2006||March 7, 2005||October 3, 2007||
|6||24||4||May 1, 2007||August 15, 2005||November 21, 2007||
|7||24||4||December 4, 2007||January 30, 2006||November 21, 2007||All 24 episodes included in their entirety.|
|8||24||4||September 16, 2008||August 7, 2006||November 21, 2007||All 24 episodes included in their entirety.|
|Finale||1||1||May 30, 2006||—||—||One-hour series finale included in its entirety.|
|1–8||194||33||September 16, 2008||August 7, 2006||April 30, 2008||Re-packaged discs from the previous releases with a bonus disk containing:
Karen: The Musical
It had been announced that Megan Mullally would be starring in a new Broadway musical entitled Karen: The Musical. This musical would have had Mullally reprising her role of Karen Walker. She stated in an interview that the show may also involve recurring guest star Leslie Jordan in his role as Beverley Leslie. The plan was cancelled because Mullally didn't have the legal rights to play Karen Walker again.
Jack & Karen
There had been talk in 2008 that a spin-off was being developed by NBC entitled Jack & Karen, featuring Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally reprising their roles. Hayes initially showed interest in the spin-off but was ultimately put off by the short-lived Friends spin-off, Joey. Furthermore, Mullally's new work schedule in the form of her talk show, which was canceled several months later, did not allow her to pursue the spin-off at the time. Rumours continue to circulate about the show.
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