Katherine Heigl + return to television + Scandal-type premise show + NBC = good, or abject train wreck?

Let’s be honest here about two things:

1. Circa 2005 or so, Katherine Heigl had an astounding career. Grey’s Anatomy was going well, and Knocked Up came out in 2007. While you can argue that the success of the latter was more based on Seth Rogen + his crew + Judd Apatow, it’s hard to argue this fact: it made about $150 million on a production budget of $30 million, meaning it killed. In the ’06-’07 TV season, Grey’s was No. 6 in the United States. After that, she became the face of the rom-com for a little bit (remember the Mila Kunis joke in Friends with Benefits?).

2. Her career got weird — she left Grey’s and then started throwing people like Apatow under the bus, and then … the worst curse of all … her movies started tanking. Notable in this period was One for the Money, which had a production budget around $40 million and made around $26 million. Here’s the problem therein: there’s about 30 of those Janet Evanovich books, so if the first movie had popped big, there would have been sequels out the wazoo, and Heigl’s career would have been minted for the next 5-6 years.

Instead, we have a situation where she’s back on TV with a show called State of Affairs — the trailer is embedded at the top of this post — on NBC on Monday nights this fall. Unless you go back to TV for a short pop — see McConaughey, Matthew — returning to TV from the movies is supposed to be a contextually bad thing (have you seen George Clooney on TV consistently since ER, or Johnny Depp/Leo since 21 Jump Street and Growing Pains?) Still, it can be a good thing for specific careers — look at James Spader in The Blacklist, which was NBC’s biggest breakout hit this year. This State of Affairs show looks like they’re trying to mash The BlacklistScandal, and Homeland all together; hopefully it doesn’t come out a garbled mess. Basically, it looks like the plot is: Heigl’s fiancee is killed by a noted terrorist. She’s in charge of the President’s Daily Intelligence Briefing. She withholds info. Her personal life also may be a train wreck (one-night stands!). Now she’s on the run from people and hunting terrorists. It seems like it would be an awesome TV character in the hands of a really good actress (like a Robin Wright or someone). In the hands of Heigl, it will probably do OK — Alfre Woodard is on the show too — but the acting quality might be just above Megan Boone on The Blacklist, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Even though this tweet is a disaster in terms of spelling, I do believe audiences are probably interested:

You could see the first episode of this going over 7-8 million viewers depending on the lead-in; it looks like it’s coming in November in The Blacklist’s spot, and The Blacklist is shifting to Thursdays after the Super Bowl (it will be the show that airs after the Super Bowl, which is on NBC this year).

I’d vote “potential train wreck” and “1-2 seasons” on this, but I could be wrong. Thoughts?

Ted Bauer


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