One of television's best loved couples "Will & Grace" reunited (sort of) this week in Hollywood – sort of. The show’s stars, Debra Messing and Eric McCormack attended The Television Academy's event to honor television comedy director James Burrows. Burrows directed every episode of the hit NBC series that ran from 1998 to 2006. Both actors attributed the success of “Will & Grace” to Burrows, who they feel was a critical part of the show’s success.
Approaching a 40 year career in television, Burrows has helmed such multi-camera comedy classics as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Cheers," "Frasier," "Taxi," “The Bob Newhart Show” and "Friends," as well as current hits "Two and a Half Men," ‘The Big Bang Theory,” “Mike & Molly” and his newest series "The Millers."
Classic TV Examiner was on hand at the event and chatted with McCormack and Messing about working with the 11- time Emmy winning Burrows.
When recalling the one thing that Burrows taught that they carried to their other projects, (McCormack now stars on TNT's "Perception," while Messing starred in "Smash" for two seasons) Messing told Classic TV Examiner that it's all about the writing.
“You don't have a show unless you have story first,” Messing said on what she learned most from Burrows. “..And characters that people can care about.”
“He gets a lot of credit for being funny,” adds McCormack. “The truth is, he always puts funny after something that's real. He’d never do something goofy over something that's believable and truthful and that's and that's where you and I and us really paid off.”
When asked about what some of their favorite memories were of working on “Will & Grace,” each spoke fondly of their time together on the show which also starred Megan Mullally (Karen) and Sean Hayes (Jack).
“There were so many [memories]” says Messing. “I love Bed Bath and Beyond when we all ended up in bed together. That was sweet.”
Added McCormack, “My favorite one involving Jimmy and I always quote this... was Deb and I had a big argument about having a baby together and it was not a funny scene. We really didn't do it but once in rehearsal. [Jimmy] kind of left it alone until the night of [filming the episode]. We suddenly did and it was just kind of perfect. There was this silence at the end of the scene where basically [Grace] told [Will] to ‘Go to Hell’ and [Will] said ‘Get out of here.’ There was this silence and in the silence you could hear Jimmy say ‘Beautiful. Cut!’ and that little word…that one there will always be my memory of Jim because if you got that from Jimmy, that means you were doing something right.”
If the comedy Gods answered “Will & Grace” fans prayers and there was a reunion, both think the pair would be great friends again. “The Finale kind of left it at that,” says McCormack. “I hope that we would still be friends.” Messing agrees. “They’d be friends for sure,” the actress beams. As McCormack gestures to his former co-star and real life friend, he assures a Will & Grace friendship for life. Could they stay mad at each other? “No, no, “the actor emphatically answers. “Because look...you, you can't stay mad at that.”
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