LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The freewheeling improvised comedy that made Robin Williams a star on 1970s sitcom “Mork & Mindy” will be on display in his new CBS comedy “The Crazy Ones,” though the actor says the series will deliver a character that audiences relate to.
Returning to TV for the first time since “Mork” went off the air in 1982, Williams will play an eccentric advertising executive who employs unorthodox methods to win and keep clients. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” star Sarah Michelle Gellar plays the straight-laced daughter who battles to keep him from going too far.
Williams said his character takes chances, and he hopes audiences will be drawn to his successes and failures as well as the relationship with his daughter.
“You have to establish a character that people buy into,” Williams told reporters at a Television Critics Association meeting in Beverly Hills. “I think people will buy into not just my character but the relationship with everybody else. He has good ideas and bad ones.”
Producer David E. Kelley, known for television hits like “The Practice” and “Ally McBeal,” said Williams sticks to the script but also is given the freedom to add his own take.
“He says my words perfectly,” Kelley said. “Then he uses his. He manages inside the box, then we give him a few takes where he gets to take out of it.”
After playing the wildly comic space alien Mork, Williams built a successful career in movies, performing in comedies, dramas, big Hollywood flicks and low-budget art house films. He won an Oscar in 1998 for his role in “Good Will Hunting” and has been nominated three other times.
“The Crazy Ones,” which premieres September 26, is one of a handful of new shows CBS will air to plug the holes in its top-rated primetime lineup. The network is riding a stable of megahits, including crime drama “NCIS” and comedies “The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men.” It is bringing back 20 shows, more than any of its competitors.
“Crazy Ones” will include real-life companies as clients, such as McDonald‘s, which is featured in the first episode. The hamburger chain did not pay for the appearance and did not give approval to the script, executive producer Jason Winer said.
Geller said acting alongside Williams offered her a new challenge.
“It’s like when my three-year-old says something really inappropriate, and it’s really funny but I can’t laugh,” she said. “That’s kind of like working with Robin.”
Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Paul Simao