Will & Grace has been a favorite of fans and peers during its lengthy eight-year run on NBC, but the show has always aired taped before a live studio audience. In a first for the sitcom, Will & Grace will air its final season premiere tonight (September 29) live for everyone.
Due to the time zone logistics, this means there will actually be two season premiere episodes. The first show will shoot at 5:30 p.m. (PT) for the East coast (to air at 8:30 p.m. ET) and another show will be shot at 8:30 p.m. (PT) for the West coast. In the audience will be 100 audience members who contributed a total of $10,000 for the American Red Cross and Hurricane Katrina victims during a charity auction.
"This opportunity for a challenging live platform launch for 'Will & Grace' is the perfect way to inaugurate their final season," said Kevin Reilly, President, NBC Entertainment. "On the heels of the amazing Emmy nominations that recognized the series' achievement, we think the audience is primed for a memorable first episode and an equally memorable last year."
For those who can't remember last season's cliff-hanger ending, Grace (Debra Messing) was on the verge of beginning an affair with a married man (guest-star Eric Stoltz), while Will (Eric McCormack) discovering that Karen's (Megan Mullally) ex-husband Stan -- thought to be dead -- was in fact, alive.
The season premieres will continue these plot lines, along with showing Jack's (Sean Hayes) new job as a talk show host. Actor Alec Baldwin will also appear in his recurring role as Will's new boss.
Since each premiere will be live, the opportunities for different jokes, flubbed lines and completely different character interactions are entirely possible. But what's a fan to do, when they want to watch both versions of the premiere? NBC has thought of that and is offering, for the first time, a live feed of both episodes at a specially-created website for the show. Visit www.nbc.com/nbc/Will_&_Grace/live/ and not only can you watch both versions of the season premiere -- as they happen -- but there will also be a live cam trained on the set and a live blog that will report from the set as the shows are happening.
"We love the idea of a live episode because we get to show the audience of "Will & Grace" what we've known from day one – We work with the best cast in network television" said David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, the Emmy-winning creators and executive producers of the series.
So watch Will & Grace live on NBC tonight, or go online to get the full experience. Either way, you'll be a part of television history.
What do you think of the show going live? Are you looking forward to it, or are you planning to watch something else? Talk about it on our message boards.