With the return of the NBC sitcom Will & Grace set to take place on Thursday at 9 p.m., the show’s cast and its producers -- stars Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally and creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick -- have made appearances on several television talk shows to promote the program’s revival.
However, during the discussion on Monday’s premiere edition NBC's Megyn Kelly TODAY, the former Fox News Channel anchor asked a “superfan” guest a question that drew the ire of Messing -- who plays the straight character Grace Adler in the series -- which led to her being ordered to “cut it out” by network executives.
According to an article from the Washington Free Beacon's Cameron Cawthorne: “[O]ne of Messing’s Instagram followers commented on a picture of cucumbers the actress posted on Tuesday, asking why she and her co-stars appeared on Kelly's new morning show.”
The question prompted the actress to respond: “Honestly, I didn't know it was MK until that morning. The itinerary just said Today Show appearance. Regret going on. Dismayed by her comments.”
Cawthorne noted that while discussing the program’s cultural impact, Messing “was turned off by Kelly's question” to self-described Will & Grace “superfan” Russell Turner, who Kelly had invited on stage to meet his television idols.
"Is it true that you became a lawyer, and you became gay, because of Will [Truman, a gay lawyer portrayed by McCormack]?" Kelly asked the fan.
“Turner laughed at Kelly's comment,” Cawthorne stated, “and responded in good humor.”
I look at Will Truman and I'm like: “He has it made!” Lawyer, best apartment in New York City and gay?
Come on, trifecta!
"I think the Will & Grace thing and the gay thing is going to work out great!" Kelly said, prompting Turner to agree.
However, several people on Twitter criticized Kelly's "awkward" and "cringe-worthy" remarks, Cawthorne noted, calling her "gay thing" comment out of touch and "clueless."
According to an article by PageSix.com's Emily Smith: “While NBC insiders defended Kelly’s comments as ‘tongue-in-cheek,’ Messing got a stern warning.”
Smith indicated that one executive responded to the controversy by noting: “Debra was told to cut it out by someone high up in the NBC Entertainment division run by Bob Greenblatt, via her agent or publicist.”
“Messing’s rep declined to comment, but a source close to the actress said: ‘NBC has been nothing but supportive of Debra. . . . No one asked us to do anything.’”
Also during Monday’s broadcast, Kelly indicated that the program “had a huge impact … culturally. Vice President Joe Biden said at the time that he thinks no other program has had as much of an effect in calling people’s attentions to gay rights. What does it feel like to hear that?”
“Shocking,” Kohan replied. “I mean, he read it exactly as I wrote it.”
After laughter from the audience, he continued:
It was incredibly surprising and incredibly gratifying. We were never an ideological thing. We were not set out to posit ideas into the zeitgeist.
We were just doing a show about four characters and trying to be funny. It gave us a sense that something else was accomplished here that we didn’t intend, and it’s wonderful.
“Everyone thinks we make stuff up,” McCormack said. “We don’t. They write everything, and we make it" come alive.
Kelly then asked: “How many times have the four of you been stopped on the street and told that you’ve affected somebody’s life by a gay or lesbian person?”
“All the time,” Hayes -- who plays gay actor Jack McFarland -- replied. “It’s the biggest reward of the whole thing. Getting positive feedback from gay people all over the world: ‘Because of your show, it made it OK to be me.’”
Kelly also ran into trouble on Wednesday, when she asked guest Jane Fonda to discuss her plastic surgery.
“We really want to talk about that now?” the actress fired back.
It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that Kelly pines for her days on the Fox News Channel, where she moderated a top-rated weeknight program and was one of the network’s most popular hosts.