Candice Bergen, 72, isn't one to wear her heart on her sleeve, but she burst into tears when she first saw the set for the reboot of Murphy Brown. Her 1988-98 comedy about a great, irascible TV newswoman airs 13 new episodes starting in September. “It's been very emotional,” she told writers at the recent Television Critics Association meeting. “We all got tears in our eyes ... it was just a lot."
Most of the original cast is back, including Corky (Faith Ford), Miles (Grant Shaud) and Frank (Joe Regalbuto). Bergen, who won five Emmy awards for playing Murphy, offered the scoop on what lies ahead. The CBS show premieres on Sept. 27 at 9:30 p.m.
1. Murphy and pals ditch retirement
The 2016 election of President Trump is the catalyst for getting the crew back together. “Much like ourselves [the actors playing the news team], they don't like being sidelined, and they're all in retirement for the last few years,” Bergen said. “They just want to be back in the game, and it's a game they're all especially good at. Murphy, Corky and Frank are starting a morning show, the three of them, with Miles producing it.” FYI is history; the new show is called Murphy in the Morning. (Fun fact: Bergen says she went on a date with Trump when they were students at the University of Pennsylvania in the mid-1960s.)
2. Murphy's baby Avery is now her TV rival
Avery is now a TV newsman (Jake McDorman, 32, who played Brian Finch, “the smartest man alive” on CBS's Limitless and the teacher Saoirse Ronan crushes on in Lady Bird) who follows in Mom's footsteps and maybe steps on a few toes. “Murphy's son, who you saw when he was being born, is also a television journalist who is working for an opposing network called the Wolf Network,” said Bergen, adding, “Fox!” Her show is on at the same time as Avery's show. "She is a fierce mom but she is a competitive mom,” said Bergen, “so Avery has his work cut out for him.” Murphy's son “had this kind of surrogate family with Corky and Frank and Miles teaching him everything he knows about journalistic integrity,” said McDorman, who plays the liberal voice on Wolf News. “And he is finally at the age where he's gotten the opportunity to put all of those lessons into practice."
3. The show will be attuned to current events
One episode, about the #MeToo movement, is entitled “#MurphyToo,” and the shooting schedule is such that scripts can be written six days before airtime. No matter what happens, you'll probably see it on Murphy Brown.
4. Who won't be back
Eldin, who repaired Murphy's apartment endlessly, is gone. “Bobby Pastorelli, who played Eldin, who was a fan favorite, died a few years ago,” said Bergen. “We haven't yet replaced him with anyone. But we do sort of toast him." And Murphy's friend Phil, the bar owner played by Pat Corley, is gone. Corley died in 2006. But the bar remains and will be run by Phil's sister Phyllis, played by Tyne Daly, 72, the six-time Emmy-winning star of Cagney & Lacey. That show also will be revived soon on CBS, with Sarah Drew and Michelle Hurd in the roles played by Daly and partner Sharon Gless.