TV’s familiar faces this fall: Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, & Betty White

Scream Queens' Jamie Lee Curtis (courtesy of Fox)

Scream Queens’ Jamie Lee Curtis (courtesy of Fox)

This fall there are a lot of familiar faces returning to TV. It will be great to see Jamie Lee Curtis in Scream Queens, Don Johnson in Blood & Oil, Marcia Gay Harden in Code Black, Rob Lowe and Fred Savage in The Grinder, S. Epatha Merkerson and Oliver Platt in Chicago Med, Jack Coleman and Zachary Levi in Heroes Reborn, Jane Lynch in Angel from Hell, and the beloved Muppets in The Muppets back on network TV each week.

The outrageous comedy-horror series Scream Queens on Fox (premiering Sept. 22) has Jamie Lee Curtis as a college Dean who oversees some scary sorority situations at Kappa House. A youthful all-star cast features Emma Roberts, Lea Michele, Abigail Breslin, Keke Palmer, Nasim Pedrad, Nick Jonas and Ariana Grande, plus Niecy Nash, and at the recent Television Critics Association (TCA) interview panel for the show, they acknowledged that Curtis was the best screamer among them. “She’s the original scream queen,” praised Nash.

Delighted to be back in the genre that made her a star, Curtis said, “I’ve been in a lot of comedies, and the writing on this is so strong and so funny and way more than that. Scream Queens is a biting satire of slasher flicks and a modern take on the classic whodunit.” It’s from the creative team that gave us Glee and American Horror Story, executive producers Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan.

Don Johnson (photo by Margie Barron)

Don Johnson (photo by Margie Barron)

Don Johnson is also back. Johnson, who had the hit show Miami Vice in the ’80s and Nash Bridges in the ’90s, now stars in Blood & Oil (premiering Sept. 27) on ABC. Johnson described his new drama as “epic in nature, about an oil boomtown, and a big family, and the seven deadly sins at play. We have created this world that you are excited about being in.” But he emphasized it was not Dallas or Dynasty revisited.

Johnson said, “I love the character driven nature of this material and the novel approach to it. My feeling remains that we are elevating the material or the expectations to a higher level of sophistication, and you are going to get the triangles and the twists and the turns and the soapiness, but along with that, you are also going to get these incredibly sophisticated, well told stories.”

For a few of the journalists at TCA (this reporter included) who attended NBC press conferences for Miami Vice back in its heyday, it was interesting to hear Johnson talk about himself then and now. He admitted, “Back then, I was a brash, terrified young man with a big ego and a lot of ambition. I’d like to think that since then I’ve let those things that don’t really serve you fall to the wayside.”

Nowadays Johnson said, “It’s about the joy and enthusiasm that comes with being given the opportunity to be here and do this (Blood & Oil). It’s great for me to have the opportunity to use the gift that I’ve been given and to have the long career that I’ve had and to work with great and talented people. It’s just a gift. I get up every morning and I pinch myself.”

There’s casting news for the most beloved familiar face of all—Betty White will guest star in an episode of Bones on Fox in late October. White will play Dr. Beth Mayer, who is brought in to assist in a murder investigation linked to fantasy football — which just happens to be one of her many areas of expertise. The 93-year-old dynamo is also slated to appear on the upcoming revival of To Tell the Truth. #


Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to be half of the husband and wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who have written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 30 years.

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