Hey, newsflash: It's still fall TV. No, really!
The final fall premiere goes down tonight, NBC's State of Affairs…a k a The Great Katherine Heigl Comeback Project.
After spending years out of the spotlight, following two unfortunate quotes (one which, depending on how you saw it, sorta dissed the Grey's Anatomy writers, and the other which, depending on how you saw it, sorta dissed Judd Apatow) and the subsequent bad press pile-on, tonight is Heigl's chance to revamp her career and her image and woo back the fans who once loved her so deeply on TV. (For the record: Many of us never stopped. And believe her comeback is long overdue.)
So...Can she do it?
That, of course, is up to you, dear viewers. So here's everything you need to know when deciding whether to watch Katherine Heigl/ State of Affairs tonight:
Katherine Heigl Finally Stood Up for Herself, and It Was Awesome. Sure, Heigl's comments about her Grey's storylines not being Emmy worthy, and Judd Apatow's Knocked Up being "a little bit sexist," could have been said with loads more tact, but six years later, Heigl has learned a thing or two about carefully choosing her words, while still having a voice. "At the end of the day," she told me, "call me any name you want, but I'm going to continue to stand up for myself and I'm going to continue to be heard and voice what I feel and not be bullied into being a doormat, just so you'll call me a sweetheart. I don't want to teach my kids that…I still think it's important to be true to yourself. I don't want my kids to feel like they don't have a voice or that having a voice makes them a bitch." Read the full interview, which includes her take on sexism if you haven't already.
The Show Is Not Perfect, But Might Be Your Favorite New Series This Fall. We're gonna go ahead and call it now: Despite the anti-Heigl bandwagon that has been pretty vocal (even among some critics), some of you viewers will absolutely love State of Affairs, and it could very well be the sleeper hit of fall. SOA (can we call it that, or should we wait til Jax has his last ride? #toosoon) has one of the best twists of any new show this season, network or cable, the cast is solid [Alfre Woodard is her usual commanding presence as Commander in Chief] and Heigl is engaging as the President's lead CIA briefer. (And a woman grieving the loss of her fiancé—the president's son.) "These men and women are so fascinating," Heigl tells us, "and the choice they made to do this, they get no glory and not a lot of money. The stakes are so high and they have to make incredibly hard gut decisions and then deliver that to the president. I like all of that." And now that the 35-year-old actress is also a mom, she's careful about what message she's sending out into the world: "It's always been important to me to tell stories that are hopeful, and powerful, and this is also patriotic, and has a real sense of right and wrong. For my children, I sort of gravitate toward that because I want them to see more of that."
This Is a Very Different Katherine Heigl. If you're tuning in for a redo of Grey's Anatomy's Dr. Izzie Stevens or Heigl's rom-com persona, well…don't. Charleston "Charlie" Tucker is a far more hard-hitting character than Heigl has portrayed before. "I got to be a part of creating her," says Heigl, who also serves as an executive producer on the show. "And that was super fun for me. She's complicated and multi-layered and that's always incredibly rewarding as an actor. And she's not at all like me…I'm kind of more expressive and goofy and weird and Charlie is no nonsense and has a sarcastic sense of humor…She kind of talks like a dude."
The Cast Seems to Have Legit Chemistry. You know how there was loads of drama on the set of Grey's? Remember those days? Of course you do. Well, Heigl tells me that she and her co-stars have already formed a very tight bond, and she's even had them up to her ranch in Utah to hang out. "I had all the briefers come up," she explains. "Alfre's mad at me so she's definitely coming next year. And if I invite her and she doesn't come, I am going to talk publicly about that! [laughs] It was all the kids. I thought we have all these scenes together as a unit, and to create that chemistry and that dynamic was not that hard for us. We just clicked and got each other right off the bat. They all have such an incredible sense of humor that I think it makes it so easy. You just fall in love with them. So Utah to me was just like, come up and we'll call it work! We'll party and have fun together and eat a lot of food and drink a lot of vodka. And maybe ride a horse or two but not while drinking vodka. It was amazing."
The only other thing you need to know: State of Affairs premieres tonight at 10 on NBC.
So will you watch?
For you who do, tweet me (@kristindsantos) after you see it: I'd love to know your thoughts!
And check out our E! News' interview with Katherine Heigl tonight at 7 and 11.
—Additional reporting by Vanessa McDonald