"Opening Night": Nathan Lane's New TV Series, "Charlie Lawrence," Makes CBS Debut June 15

News   "Opening Night": Nathan Lane's New TV Series, "Charlie Lawrence," Makes CBS Debut June 15 "Charlie Lawrence" — the new CBS sitcom starring Nathan Lane that was originally announced for mid-season — finally makes its way to the airwaves June 15.
Nathan Lane as the title character in TV's
Nathan Lane as the title character in TV's "Charlie Lawrence." (Photo by CBS)

Lane portrays an openly-gay freshman congressman in the series, which will air Sundays at 8:30 PM ET for the next several weeks. The comedy also features "Roseanne" actress Laurie Metcalf, veteran TV actor Ted McGinley as well as Stephanie Faracy, T. R. Knight, Steve Stapenhorst, Misha Henson, Shannon Cochran and Anni Long.

Lane's newest character is a former actor who achieved fame through a fictitious television program called "Do Unto Others," similar in style to CBS' "Touched by an Angel." When the television series ended, Charlie Lawrence — then an alcoholic — had a stay at a Nevada rehabilitation center. Now a congressman for New Mexico, Lawrence is based in Washington, D.C., where he is a fish out of water. In the premiere episode June 15, Charlie is sworn in as an elected official.

In a recent interview for TV Guide's "Insider," Lane spoke about his earlier TV outing, 1998's "Encore! Encore!": "For some reason, I got it into my head that I wanted to work with those particular producers from 'Frasier' [Peter Casey and Suzanne Holmes], and I just wanted to be an actor and leave it all up to them. The next thing I knew, I was in the Napa Valley with Joan Plowright [playing my mother]." The comedic actor admits that he was "terribly naive" during his first sitcom, "so, this time around, I had to see a script. I can't just meet with high powered writer-producers, and, because we hit it off at lunch, that means we're going to do a show together." Lane also serves as a writer and executive producer for the new series.

Lane filmed several episodes of the new series, which he explains is "a different kind of show for CBS. People have said that this is almost risqué for [the network]."

About the love life of his openly gay character, Lane says, "Of course he'll date. [His personal life] will be prominent in the sense that, like any other human, he'll want to get together with others. In fact, the first episode I go out with ["Dharma & Greg" alum] Thomas Gibson. That's a good way to begin. But it's not a show about being gay. It's not 'Queer as Folk.'" The future of "Charlie Lawrence" — after the initial episodes are broadcast — remains in doubt. The series was not on the recently announced CBS fall schedule, and it appears that the show's actors have moved on to other projects.

In addition to his Tony-winning roles in The Producers and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Nathan Lane has starred on The Great White Way in Present Laughter, Merlin, The Wind in the Willows, Some Americans Abroad, On Borrowed Time, Guys and Dolls, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Love! Valour! Compassion! and The Man Who Came to Dinner. The actor has also been featured in such films as "Addams Family Values," "Mousehunt," "Love's Labour's Lost" and "The Birdcage," scoring a Golden Globe nomination for his work in the latter. He was also recently seen in the film adaptation of "Nicholas Nickleby."