When you talk about television these days, it’s all too easy to focus on pay-cable, basic cable and streaming, which tend to dominate the Emmy nominations and the trendy, of-the-moment shows. But that does a disservice to the broadcast networks, which are not only the place where great television was born, but have stayed in the game even if Emmy voters and trendseekers are looking in other directions. That’s why TheWrap decided to celebrate broadcast television in our first ever Fall TV Issue.

Broadcast still reaches the largest audience and jump-starts the most conversations; it’s still a place where Empire can become the year’s biggest breakout hit, where Viola Davis can go from great actress to certified star within the first dozen episodes of How to Get Away With Murder.

Our cover is a salute to 10 broadcast network shows, one continuing series and one new series from ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and the CW. (OK, we cheated a bit with NBC when we called Heroes Reborn a returning series, but only because we still remember the original Heroes so vividly.)

We have continuing dramas (sophomore shows Empire, How to Get Away With Murder and Scorpion) and comedies (Jane the Virgin, also going into its second season), superhero shows both new and rebooted (Greg Berlanti’s Supergirl and Tim Kring’s Heroes Reborn), a horror comedy (Scream Queens, from Ryan Murphy) and a musical comedy that moved from cable to broadcast before it ever made it to the air (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), a nighttime soap (Blood & Oil) and a dramatic puzzle with clues written on the skin of its lead actress (Blindspot).

We asked our gang of four returning veterans on our cover what advice they’d give to the actors whose shows are just hitting the air. “It’s out of your hands—just enjoy it,”said Scorpion’s Katharine McPhee. “Just pray that people watch your new show,” said Jussie Smollett from Empire, “and that you get to call it an old show.” And Jack Falahee from How to Get Away With Murder got homey: “Call your mom.”

“I just hope that all of us know how lucky we are to have a job, and to be able to do what we do,” says Justin Baldoni from Jane the Virgin of our cover crew. “We should savor every moment.” Cheers!


 Jussie Smollett  

“TCA Program of the Year—awesome!” said Jussie Smollett, about Empire’s recent award from the Television Critics Association—an honor that helped take the sting out of the hit show’s low Emmy nomination count (one, for star Taraji P. Henson). Smollett, a ‘90s child star (The Mighty Ducks, North), has hit a whole new fame level as Jamal, the musically talented scion of the feuding Lyon clan on Fox’s hip-hop soap opera. “When I went to Whole Foods, there was a church bus, and like 13 [people] started going, ‘JAMAL, JAMAL!!’ And that’s when I knew it was a little bit different than anything else I’ve been involved in.”

Smollett, 32, plays one of the most high-profile gay characters on TV, and this spring he confirmed to Ellen DeGeneres that he is both a real musician (with two tracks on Empire’s soundtrack and a recording contract) and a gay guy in real life. But he’s terrified to reveal any of Jamal’s secrets in the second season, though we know that Jamal has taken over the record company for his imprisoned dad (Terrence Howard), while his mother, Cookie (Henson), also battles for control. “Some of the teams have shifted, and we’ll see what happens,” said Smollett. “[Jamal] has grown a great deal.”

But emotionally, what’s up with Jamal? “I really like my job, so I’m not sharing any spoilers.” Not even a hint? “He’s really changing. He’s dealing with the pressures of fame and success, and he’s definitely not what he was in the first season.”

Smollett did say that despite “all the glitz and glamour of showbiz and celebrity, [Empire] very much deals with the issues of the nation and the world that we live in today. It’s a great chance to do something really cool.”

how to get away with murder oN ABC

 Jack falahee  

The craziest moment for Jack Falahee during the first season of How to Get Away With Murder came the first time he was recognized in the supermarket, and the most rewarding came with the reaction he’s received from the LGBTQ community for his portrayal of a duplicitous law student who happens to be gay and proud. But it didn’t take a fan in the produce aisle or a letter from a closeted teen for the 26-year-old Michigan-born actor to realize that the Peter Nowalk/Shonda Rhimes show starring Viola Davis just might be something special.

“I think I knew right out of the gate,” he said. “We had that Scandal lead-in, we opened to such a large audience and fans were so passionate on social responding to the pilot. I think right then and there I thought, ‘Wow, we have something here.’”

They did. With Viola Davis leading the cast as attorney and law professor Annalise Keating and Falahee as one of the interns who become embroiled in a murder plot with Keating, the show’s pilot set a record for DVR playback, while Season 1 won AFI, Image and SAG Awards, along with Emmy nominations for Davis and Cicely Ty-son.

Falahee said he’s sworn to secrecy about the second season, though he did let a few things slip. “The show picks up right where we left off,” he said. “We find out who killed [neighbor and murder suspect] Rebecca in the first episode back, which is very exciting.” And there’s another development that might come as a surprise, con-sidering that Falahee’s character, Connor Walsh, was seen by the other interns as ruthless and self-centered in the first season. “I think that you start to see the students become friends, which is interesting,” he said.

ScorpiOn oN CBS

 Katharine McPhee  

“You can definitely be assured that Team Scorpion will be solving the world’s prob-lems one episode at a time,” Katharine McPhee said of the second season of Scorpion, the CBS drama about a squad of high-tech geniuses who use advanced brainpower to tackle things like biohacking, nuclear meltdowns and arms dealing. But the 31-year-old singer-turned-actress, who first burst into the public eye in the fifth season of American Idol before moving to the musical drama Smash and then Scorpion, also promised viewers that a lighter tone will occasionally prevail, as will the romance between her character, single mother Paige Dineen, and Scorpion team leader Walter O’Brien (Elyes Gabel).

“It’s really silly and funny this year, more so than last year,” she said. “And I think the show’s a little bit sexier this year, if I do say so myself. They’re just taking more risks with the dynamics between the characters.”

Scorpion will be back on Monday nights, where it was last season’s top new show— holding strong with fans, she says, even when it was interrupted frequently for re-peats between December and March. “We would have several reruns in a row, and then I’d get nervous before a new episode aired, thinking, ‘Oh God, no one’s going to realize there’s a new episode.’ But week in and week out, they would tune in. I was just so surprised by the awareness of people who follow our show.”

And McPhee, who will also release her new album this fall, encountered that fandom first-hand, she said, when she went on vacation. “The best part was going to Vegas with a group of friends and realizing, ‘Wow, this is a Scorpion town,’” she added with a laugh.

Heroes Reborn oN NBC


Ryan Guzman didn’t come to Heroes Reborn as a fan of creator Tim Kring’s original Heroes series, which ran on NBC from 2006 through 2010. “When it first came out I was a college student, so I wasn’t doing much watching TV,” said the 27-year-old ac-tor, best known for Pretty Little Liars and two of the Step Up movies. “I could barely afford a TV, and I was doing more partying than anything.” But he binged-watched the original before getting his role on the new series, in which he plays an Army vet with PTSD and “an opportunity to achieve greatness.”

Added Guzman, “I’ll tell you what, this character has been a dream come true for me. I’ve always wanted to play three things. One was a superhero, another was some-body in the armed services, and the third one was a very, very troubled character. And this is all three.”

The new show, he added, incorporates some characters from the original series and will offer “little gifts” to fans from that show. He met some of those Heroes-wor-shippers when the new cast went to San Diego for this summer’s Comic-Con, under-standably causing quite a stir. “We had 6,000 or 7,000 people waiting for us in Hall H overnight, just to hear us say maybe five sentences,” he said. “It was the closest thing I’ve ever felt to being a rock star. And I’m hoping that kind of following contin-ues to this new series, and then builds from the sheer spectacle of what we’re showing.”



Success came early to Keke Palmer—at age 10 she became the youngest-ever SAG lead actress nominee for The Wool Cap, opposite William H. Macy, and she scored lead roles in Akeelah and the Bee and Nickelodeon’s True Jackson before turning sweet 16. Now 22, she’s blown away to be costarring with Jamie Lee Curtis and Emma Roberts on Scream Queens, Ian Brennan, Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy’s terror-iffic Fox show about a sorority with death problems.

“I never knew I’d get a chance to work with Jamie Lee Curtis!” said Palmer. “She’s so sweet—she gives this energy where we always feel protected, all the girls do. Emma’s awesome too—I kind of grew up with her in the Disney/Nickelodeon world.”

Palmer plays a high-IQ student named Zayday Williams. “Zayday isn’t exactly a nerd, but she has nerd qualities,”Palmer said. “Very dedicated, very smart and driven. Always fighting for justice and pushing away anything that’s not up to her standards. She has dreams and hopes of one day being president.”

The show offers more than gore, Palmer insisted. “It has that thriller vibe—but at the same time it is quite funny, so it’s like a Heathers meets Mean Girls.”

What amazed Palmer is the enthusiasm of fans before there was a show to scream for. “[Often] you come off the set and you have a paparazzi shot of myself and the cast. I’ve never been a part of anything that was that anticipated without [fans] having seen any-thing. That was all happening before the trailer! And that’s when I knew, ‘OK, this show is kind of something.’”


 photographed by Elisabeth Caren

It’s unlikely that any actor has a more eye-catching onscreen debut this season than Jaimie Alexander, who opens the first episode of Blindspot crawling naked out of a body bag in Times Square, covered with mysterious tattoos but with no idea who she is or how she got there. Her character, Jane Doe, teams up with FBI agent Kurt Weller, played by Sullivan Stapleton, to find some answers, following clues left in the ink that covers her body.

“It was the first script I’d read in a long time that wasn’t a clichéd character and was unpredictable,” said Alexander, 31, whose previous work includes playing Thor’s girlfriend and fellow warrior Sif in two features and two episodes of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “I loved the fact that she’s a well-rounded, well-written female charac-ter who isn’t a superhero.”

The Greg Berlanti series, she said, “is really about human connection. [Jane Doe and Kurt Weller] are both lost in their own way, and they’re both trying to sort out the past in their own way.” But don’t look for that TV staple, the will-they-or-won’t-they? relationship. “I don’t think we’re going to go the clichéd route of the love inter-est,” she said, “but I would say the sky’s the limit.”

Meanwhile, she puts up with the seven hours it takes to apply the full-body tattoos by blasting the Beatles on Pandora, drinking coffee and having good conversations with the crew assigned to cover her with ink. And if she had to persuade somebody who knew nothing about the show to watch it, what would her pitch be? “I’d proba-bly just strip off my clothes and say, ‘You wanna see this every Monday, you just tune into NBC, 10 p.m. after The Voice,’” she said, laughing.



Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was created, and its pilot was shot, as a half-hour comedy for Showtime, with all the usual freedoms that entails when it comes to language, theme and sexuality—freedoms that could come in handy in making a show that co-creator and star Rachel Bloom describes as “an effed-up romantic comedy.” But Showtime passed, the CW stepped in—and suddenly, the show was subject to broadcast standards and practices. And it was expanded from a half hour to an hour. And did we mention it’s also a musical?

That sounds like a task to overwhelm a writer and comic actress best known for viral videos and standup, but Bloom, 28, hasn’t been daunted by all the adjustments. “I was ecstatic,” she said of the move to The CW. “I really thought the show was dead, and when I heard someone wanted to revive it, and change it in a great way…it’s been a joy.”

Obviously, things changed. “There’s a pretty explicit scene in the original pilot where I’m doing things to a man, which will now be changed to doing less things to a man,” she said. “But the tone hasn’t changed. The show’s not about sex, it’s not about boobs, it’s not about the F-word. It’s about obsession. And that’s something you can show on broadcast.”

Bloom says she and co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna (screenwriter of The Devil Wears Prada) aim to “take the tropes of a romantic comedy and go underneath them” as they explore the title character, who leaves her home to move into the city where her former boyfriend now lives. And they’ll do so with two or three songs in each episode. “The music is the most fun thing to shoot and the most fun thing to write,” she insisted. “It’s hard, but it doesn’t feel like a chore.”

Jane the virgin oN the cw

 Justin Baldoni  

Is a name change in order for Jane the Virgin? That’s not likely for the second-year CW show—but co-star Justin Baldoni, who plays Rafael Solano, thinks that the show’s leading lady may not warrant her titular description for too much longer. “I think in Season 2, you can expect a lot of drama,” he said. “It’s Jane the Virgin, but hopefully by the end of the season it’ll just be Jane, and the Virgin will be scratched out.”

But is his comment a guess or a spoiler about Gina Rodriguez’s Jane Villaneuva, who at the end of the first season had Baldoni’s character’s child via artificial and acci-dental insemination? “Whether it’s this season or next season, I know it’s going to happen,” he said. “I know that this season there’s gonna be a wedding. And we’ve been told that once she gets married, she’s gonna lose her virginity. I just don’t know who it’s going to be with.”

The 31-year-old Baldoni, who is himself a new father to a baby girl born in June, said the first-season success of Jane didn’t really hit home until the show was nominated for Best Television Series — Musical or Comedy at this year’s Golden Globes. (Rodriguez was also nominated, and won.) “I was in bed with my wife, and Gina called me at 5 in the morning,” he remembered. “I looked at my phone and I just started cry-ing, because I was so grateful.

“When you put so much love into something, you don’t know if people are going to respond. But when we got nominated, it was like, ‘Wow, people actually love us.’”

Blood & oil oN Abc

 Rebecca Rittenhouse  

Rebecca Rittenhouse said the original title of her ABC series Blood & Oil was Boom, and that would have been an apt title for ABC’s new socially-conscious soap opera created by Rodes Fishburne and Josh Pate and directed by Jonas Pate. Forget the 1849 San Francisco Gold Rush—the real money was made in North Dakota’s 2006 oil boom, the biggest in U.S. history. They say it minted two new millionaires every day, though money failed to make people nicer. Despite the boomtown greed of Rittenhouse’s character Cody LeFever and her TV squeeze Billy LeFever (Chace Crawford of Gossip Girl), she said Cody is no Dallas-style gold (or oil) digger. “I’m a very good person,” insisted Rittenhouse. “My character has very down-to-earth, whole-some values.”

Crude greed is more evident in the family of oil patriarch Hap Briggs, played by Don Johnson. As an actor, he was a towering presence on set, eager to help the youngsters (perhaps because he’s an executive producer on the show too). “Don loves to give tips to everybody,” said Rittenhouse, 26. “He has a lot of experience, so with a guy like Don Johnson, you just watch and learn.” One day, she thought Johnson hated her until she realized that he was in character shooting her a dirty look, even though cameras weren’t rolling.

And when did she know the show might catch fire? “It was probably the second day [that] I felt like, ‘Omigosh, this is a special project. We’re actually doing some story telling.’”

supergirl oN cbs

 Mehcad Brooks  

If you’ve seen any of the multitude of films and TV shows from the Superman universe, you probably have a pretty good picture of Jimmy Olsen, the cub reporter sidekick to Clark Kent and pal to the Man of Steel: unkempt red hair, freckles, lots of energy but not much experience… Let’s face it: You don’t picture him as a six-foot-plus African-American former Calvin Klein model in his mid 30s. But that’s Mehcad Brooks—and in CBS and producer Greg Berlanti’s highly touted Supergirl, Brooks is a new kind of Jimmy Olsen.

“I think we’re sort of reinventing Jimmy Olsen for the 21st century,” said Brooks, whose version of Jimmy also happens to serve as a love interest for Melissa Benoist’s Kara Zor-El, a.k.a. Kara Danvers, a.k.a. Supergirl. “The character was created 75 years ago, and in the societal mentality back then, people were very monochro-matic. But we’re righting a lot of those social inequities from the past.”

Brooks, 34, who says he grew up on the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, is sure that a strapping black Jimmy Olsen will fit right in. “The DNA of this character has not changed,” he said, ticking off the similarities and differences. “I have less red hair and a better tan, basically. I’m a nerd—he’s a nerd. My mother’s a journalist, so I come from that background. I’ve got freckles—he’s got freckles. He’s a hopeless romantic—same here. He’s got a famous best friend—so do I. He’s got daddy issues—let’s stop there.”

He grinned. “It’s a character reimagined. He’s a little more heroic, but I think he’s going to be just as likable.”

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