EW Fronts Return of Murphy Brown, With Palin-Bashing; Comic Tim Allen's Views Quizzed

September 15th, 2018 11:27 AM

If there was any doubting the political sympathies of Entertainment Weekly, the front cover of the Fall TV Preview hails the revival of the CBS hit comedy Murphy Brown, starrring Candace Bergen, which bowed out in 1998. The first episode of the revival airs September 27. It was revealing to compare how the magazine greeted the return of Murphy Brown, to how the magazine greeted the return of the comedy Last Man Standing, starring right-of-center actor Tim Allen with second-degree questioning of Allen's political beliefs.

Here’s a segment of Lynette Rice's cover profile that the magazine found interesting enough to tease on their website:

Creator Diane English first started to consider whether to bring back her iconic character from the ’80s and ’90s in 2012, when former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin started to get under her skin. “Sarah was really the beginning of the Trump era, in a way that we had never seen before,” English tells EW. “She didn’t have much experience, had very strong opinions, and was extremely out-there. I really disliked her. I made a joke someplace like, ‘If CBS just gave me six episodes, that’s all I would need.’ It became moot, though, because [the GOP] was soundly beaten, so we never really visited it.”

The article goes on to talk about how the show promises to “shine a light on the #MeToo movement and those truth-challenged White House press briefings.” Nothing in the piece on how #MeToo is working in their own house, given the recently fired CBS chief executive Les Moonves, accused of sexually harassing several women, and that 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager was recently fired in the midst of similar accusations.

For the same issue, James Hibberd talked to TV comedian Tim Allen, a novelty in the business for his public right-of-center politics, about the return of his show Last Man Standing. It’s a longer version of what appeared in the print edition. It wasn’t an unfriendly interview, but Hibberd insisted on getting Allen on the record regarding his controversial (in Hollywood) politics, keeping Allen slightly on the defensive.

Tim Allen has a message for anybody on the fence about watching the revival of the conservative comedian’s sitcom Last Man Standing this fall: “Who cares what I think?!” the actor-comedian declares.

Fox rescued Allen’s family comedy after ABC axed the show last year, and it’s landed in a post-Roseanne discussion over the actor’s politics at a time when Trump-supporting entertainers are considered divisive (Allen famously compared being a Republican in Hollywood to 1930s Germany). The actor says he’d prefer viewers just focus on his show, which chronicles the life of Republican-ish fishing store owner Mike Baxter, his wife (Nancy Travis), and their three kids. And at a press junket earlier this month the actor carefully dodged any questions that touched on his political views, preferring to note his character was a centrist and that his stand-up comedy mocks both sides.

EW spoke to Allen to get some scoop on the resurrection of Last Man Standing — and got him to open up (a little) about his political beliefs (his tax return menu idea is definitely a good one).

Hibberd asked, “Despite a lot of assumptions about you online, you haven’t, from what I’ve read, actually ever endorsed Trump. You actually endorsed Kasich right?”

Allen answered:

Yeah, I endorsed Kasich. Politically I’m kind of an anarchist if you see my stand-up...I don’t like paying people who never seem to do what I would do with my money. I always thought it would be funny if I had a little menu on my tax returns where I could tell them where my money would go.

Hibberd got his liberal opinion in:

If that menu was there, I imagine education would do a lot better and the defense industry would do a lot worse.” He followed up: “But you’re assumed to be a Trump supporter, and you did attend his inauguration. So I guess what I’m wondering is … it’s been a year and a half, after all we’ve seen, as a self-described ‘fiscal conservative’ in Hollywood whose TV show dabbles in political humor: Are you a Trump fan, at this point, or not?

Allen pointed out:

[I]t’s a very loaded question. I’ve met [Trump] at the charity event years ago, and that certainly doesn’t fit with the man who tweets....I’m just watching the theater of it and trying to keep my personal opinions out of it. What difference does it make whether I like him?

English, executive producer for Murphy Brown, didn’t get that kind of second-degree questioning treatment as she bashed 2008 Republican vice-president candidate Sarah Palin.