Navigating the workplace is hard enough—but when your mom is your coworker, things get a whole lot more complicated. That’s the dilemma Katie Wendelson finds herself in on Great News, a new NBC comedy that infuses plenty of heart into the funny dynamics of a mother-daughter relationship.
Great News, set to debut on NBC Tuesday, April 25, at 9 p.m., comes from the powerhouse team of executive producers Tina Fey, Robert Carlock and Tracey Wigfield, who all worked together on the Emmy-award winning show 30 Rock. Inspired by the relationship Wigfield, the show’s creator, has with her mother, Great News is about a mom who gets an internship at the TV news station where her daughter works.
Taking on the role of the lovable, but intrusive, matriarch is Andrea Martin, a comedy legend who said she was attracted to the show because of the funny script and relatable character.
“Usually when there’s a mom, they are alcoholics or highly critical or arc in the way they’re written,” said Martin, who also plays a mom on Hulu’s Difficult People. “Tracey did an amazing job of not making this a stereotypical mom. They have a very close bond, but when a mom who is not politically correct and who has never worked before starts working and her daughter is trying to make a name for herself, there are going to be very funny situations.”
Martin noted that many viewers would be able to relate to her character Carol, who is entering a world driven by technology and social media, as well as dealing with empty-nest syndrome and wanting to be overly involved in her adult child’s life.
“It’s very interesting for people watching, my demographic will really relate to my character while younger people will relate to Katie [Briga Heelan] and Portia [Nicole Richie],” said Martin. “There’s a little bit for everyone.”
The generation gap is played up not only through Martin’s character but that of John Michael Higgins, who plays a demanding news anchor always in fear of losing his job to someone younger.
“It’s this idea of a guy who’s in constant danger of being swept to the side by something more flashy that our culture is doing,” said Higgins. “It’s a generational joke about old and young and yesterday and today. It’s very smart because the great generational rift is a constant source of comedy.”
While his character doesn’t understand anything about Twitter or the digital age, his fellow co-anchor, played by Nicole Richie, is a shrewd social media genius. Higgins said his character’s old-fashioned nature was not much of a leap for him to play.
“I’m a bit of a traditionalist,” said Higgins. “I see a lot of myself in my character and his confusion of what life is made out of these days and how it’s sort of left him.”
Higgins and Martin were joined on set by Richie, Briga Heelan, Horatio Sanz and Adam Campbell. Despite the vast difference in age, experience and styles of comedy, Higgins and Martin both agreed the cohesive cast made Great News one of the most enjoyable projects they’ve ever worked on.
“I’ve been on many sets where the difference in age or experience was pronounced and it didn’t work that great, but this cast right away got along really well,” said Higgins. “This has been one of the easiest shows I’ve done because the cast and producers have gelled so quickly.”