NBC is bringing back its "must-see TV" Thursday franchise this fall with the revival of "Will & Grace," and by moving its heartwarming hit "This is Us" to the same night.
The network announced its schedule Sunday, kicking off the annual week where broadcasters outline next season's plans to advertisers. NBC is the second most popular network behind CBS, first among the younger viewers it covets, and is bullish on next year since it will show the Winter Olympics and Super Bowl.
The comedy "Will & Grace," which first aired from 1998 to 2006, unites its ensemble of Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally with the original creative team. If the resumption goes well, NBC hopes there will be more than the 12 episodes now on order, said Robert Greenblatt, NBC entertainment chairman.
"Will & Grace" will kick off Thursday's lineup, followed by "Great News," a sophomore comedy produced by Tina Fey. Greenblatt said Fey will appear periodically on air next season, too.
The key to reestablishing Thursday nights, which NBC dominated during the 1980s and 1990s, is bringing the fans who made "This is Us" the year's biggest new hit, to that night at 9 p.m. The show also gets the high-profile slot after next winter's Super Bowl. Greenblatt sounded conflicted about how much NBC will push the "must-see TV" concept promotionally.
"I'm not saying it's going to be emblazoned with 100-foot letters atop the Empire State Building, but we're going to use it," he said.