The revival of Will & Grace is set to conclude a successful three-season run when it returns to NBC this fall, but not if Donald Trump has his say.
The president has called for Debra Messing, who plays neurotic interior designer Grace Adler, to be fired from the seminal sitcom over her pleas to out attendees of a Trump fundraiser in Hollywood. In a Thursday tweet, he accused her of “McCarthyism” and claimed that she wants to “create a ‘Blacklist’ of Trump supporters.”
The sparring between the two began earlier this week, when Messing urged The Hollywood Reporter to “print a list” of everyone scheduled to attend a Sept. 17 fundraiser held at an undisclosed location in the Beverly Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. A pair of tickets to the event, which coincides with the week of the Emmy Awards, reportedly costs up to $100,000.
“The public has a right to know,” Messing said of attendees.
The post led to a war of words with Trump over the weekend, with the president claiming Messing had been effusive in her praise of him when The Apprentice was still airing on the peacock network. He claimed the actress approached him and thanked him for “helping NBC’s failed lineup greatly… & profusely thanked me, even calling me ‘Sir.’”
“How times have changed!” the Commander-in-Chief concluded.
After co-star Eric McCormack, the Will of Will & Grace, on jumped in to also request that THR “report on everyone attending this event so the rest of us can be clear about who we don't want to work with,” the duo faced some criticism for the remarks. The View co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Meghan McCain were in rare agreement on the issue, with Goldberg claiming, “We don't go after people because we don't like who they voted for.”
The controversy only intensified throughout the week, with old tweets resurfacing in which Messing liked a post referred to people of color who voted for Trump as “mentally ill.” It all came to its perhaps inevitable conclusion on Thursday when Trump accused NBC of “hypocrisy” for not firing Messing over her tweets.
“If Roseanne Barr said what she did,” he said, “even being on a much higher rated show, she would have been thrown off television.”
The particulars of each situation are markedly different, however. While Messing engaged in a well-intentioned act of political advocacy, Barr was fired from the Roseanne reboot in 2017 for comparing former Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett to an “ape” in a tweet. The comedian blamed the post on Ambien and claimed she thought Jarrett, who is biracial, was white.
After killing off her character, ABC relaunched the show as The Conners, with a second season set to air in September.
NBC has not responded to the president’s calls to terminate Messing, but if it were to comply with his demands, it’s unlikely that Will & Grace would survive without her. While The Conners seamlessly upgraded Sara Gilbert, who plays oldest daughter Darlene, to series lead, the dynamic between its titular roommates has always been so pivotal to the show that it’s hard to imagine what Will would even look like.
Messing has been nominated for six Emmys and won one for her work on Will & Grace. She also has a Screen Actor’s Guild award and a Satellite Award. Trump has no Emmys, and recently made up a fake award given to him by a gay Republican group, one of many false honors he’s invented over the years.