This story just in. NBC is launching the new half-hour comedy, “Great News,” that will focus on a flustered and funny news producer working behind the scenes at a television show. Comparisons to “30 Rock” are expected as Tina Fey, Robert Carlock and Tracey Wigfield, the executive team behind “30 Rock,” produce “Great News.”
Wigfield admits that while “Great News” and “30 Rock” share some television DNA when it comes to the producing and writing team there is no way the new NBC comedy is just a rewrite of “30 Rock.”
“It’s a funny show with a lot of fast-paced jokes per page. But the show is very different. At its core, it’s a show about a mother and a daughter,” Wigfield says. “There were a couple times, like Tina was very much on it, about let’s make sure Katie isn’t eating tuna out of a can or tucking her shirt into her underwear, that kind of thing, making sure that Katie is a very different character.”
The daughter is played by Briga Heelan, whose past work includes “Ground Floor” and “Undateable.” Her character, Katie, is trying to earn some respect at the cable news program where she works. That’s only going to get more difficult as Katie’s mother, Carol (Andrea Martin), gets an internship working on the same cable show.
John Michael Higgins, Nicole Richie, Adam Campbell and Horatio Sanz also star.
Another comparison that can be made is that Fey was both an executive producer and appeared on “30 Rock,” Wigfield is both an executive and has a recurring role as Beth, a creepy nerd and show’s resident meteorologist.
Wigfield wants people to look at “Great News” as less of a imitation of “30 Rock” and more of a story about her relationship with her own mother.
“My mother would constantly come to work back when I was writing for them on ‘30 Rock.’ Tina was very smart to think of Andrea kind of immediately because she does have such a warm kind of maternal energy, and she’s like a hilarious elf. She is so funny and magical,” Wigfield says. “My mom is very much the character. The good things about her is she sort of talks to everyone exactly the same, whether they’re the lady at the grocery store or Alec Baldwin.
“My mom is very honest and kind of has a happiness about her and is very motherly. She’s a straight-up mom. She’s not like one of these sexy L.A. moms with long, weird blond hair.”
Once the mom was cast, the team began the search for the actor to play a variation on Wigfield. They found Heelan to be able to handle the family matters while also dealing with a workplace comedy.
Starring in “Great News” is familiar ground for Heelan as she worked on the office comedy “Ground Floor.” Heelan likes that the series will deal with the mother/daughter dynamic while also allowing her to be part of the workplace material. She sees a lot of similarities for Katie between her office life, where she is trying to earn some respect, and the dealings she has with her mother, where she also seeks respect.
“It’s so wonderful that we sort of get to play with both. Selfishly, I just love that I get to be embedded in both worlds equally at the same time. It’s just twice the fun,” Heelan says.
- 9 p.m. Tuesday, April 25, KSEE (Channel 24.1)