(KGET) — Before COVID-19 threw everything into a turmoil, the plan by ABC executives was to hold “black-ish” to be a mid-season launch instead of having the comedy series debut in September. The explosion of protests surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement made cast and crew hopeful the network would decide to bring the series back earlier than planned.
All of the networks were slowed in making new episodes of returning shows available after productions were delayed by the pandemic. That meant there was no traditional September season launch but new episodes of “black-ish” are going to air earlier than planned.
The seventh season is scheduled to begin airing at 9:30 p.m. Oct. 21.
Cast member and executive producer Laurence Fishburne noted that everyone involved with “black-ish” was astonished ABC executives originally had opted for the delay. And, they were very vocal about the decision.
Since the first episode, “black-ish” has dealt with numerous racial and cultural issues built around one man’s (Anthony Anderson) determination to establish a sense of identity for his family. That will continue now that the show is back as “black-ish” will look at the global pandemic, voting, systemic racism and the movement for social justice and equality.
Anderson – who is both a star of the show and an executive producer – made a case with ABC executives regarding the decision to delay the return.
“I had a conversation with them and felt that it would be doing a disservice to our audience, a disservice to the community, and a disservice to our show to have our voices muted in a time like this,” Anderson says. “And not have the show come back until midseason, I felt, was problematic for me.
“That was my conversation with the powers that be. And everybody was on the same accord.”
Tracee Ellis Ross – who plays Rainbow – points to the change of dates as an example of how speaking up can make a difference. She couldn’t be happier that she and the rest of the cast are back working on the series.
New episodes will continue to show how Anderson can handle comedy. Before landing the role of the often befuddled father, Anderson was better known for dramatic roles such as his work on “Law & Order,” “Treme” and “K-ville.”
Anderson says, “Not that I’m a comic or anything like that, but, you know, it’s easier for a comic to go from comedy to drama than it is for a regular dramatic actor to switch over to comedy, just because of some of the dark places that these comics live in and come from and have a well of emotion and a well of things to pull from to go to that dark side.
“I don’t know what attributes I have. I’ve been blessed with a talent. With a gift, I should say. And it’s my responsibility to share this gift with the world in every form possible, and comedy and drama are two of the things that I dance equally in, I believe.”
Asking Anderson if he likes comedy or drama roles better is like quizzing him on which of his children he loves the most. He loves doing both comedy and drama.
Ross comes to the series with a background in comedy with production such as “Girlfriends” and “Reed Between the Lines.” The daughter of Diana Ross credits her father (Robert Ellis Silberstein) with giving her a comedic edge.
“I think my dad is just a huge part of how I navigate the world. He has a real ability to make fun of himself. And I don’t know if it’s necessarily a Jewish sense of humor, but it definitely sounds like it to me,” Ross says. “I will say that when I was on ‘Girlfriends,’ I actually remember they had to ask me to stop saying ‘Oy vey’ and it didn’t go with my character.
“According to my mother, she says I sound like my dad whenever I’m around him. So I don’t know. It’s seamlessly a part of who I am. Proud of that part of my heritage. Proud of my mixedness.”
The rest of the cast of “black-ish” includes Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown, Marsai Martin, Jenifer Lewis, Peter Mackenzie, Deon Cole and Jeff Meacham.