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Actress Minnie Driver stars in “Speechless” on ABC. Photo via

“Speechless,” a comedy inspired by creator Scott Silveri’s experiences of having a brother with special needs, is the first of two series premiering Wednesday night on ABC.

“Speechless,” which airs at 8:30 p.m., stars Minnie Driver as a mother who will do anything for her husband (John Ross Bowie) and three children, the oldest of whom, JJ (Micah Fowler), has cerebral palsy.

“For me, it’s a question of writing what you know,” Silveri said last month during ABC’s portion of the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour. “I came from a family with a brother with special needs, and it’s something that I’ve been wanting to write for a long, long time.

“What I know is the challenges, the ups and downs of growing up with a family with a sibling with special needs. I know how it’s the same as other people’s experience, how it’s different from other people’s experience, what’s funny about it. It was a very personal story, and I feel lucky to get the chance to tell it.”

Silveri described “Speechless” as “honest and a little different.”

“That’s the most exciting kind of thing to write and the most engaging sort of thing to watch,” said Silveri, who was an executive producer of “Friends.”

“I’m so much enjoying writing scenes that I’ve never written before and I think an audience is going to respond to that,”

Fowler has cerebral palsy.

“Our job is to entertain and to do it in an honest and specific and respectful way, but you can’t help but have moments where you heart melts watching this guy,” Silveri said.

“Designated Survivor” is Wednesday’s second premiere on ABC. It airs at 10 p.m. and stars Kiefer Sutherland as a cabinet member who becomes president following an attack on the U.S. Capitol during the State of the Union.

Sutherland said he initially “had no intention of doing a television show” but changed his mind after reading the script by David Guggenheim.

“I felt the script was so beautifully structured,” Sutherland said. “It had the thriller aspect of trying to find out who had done this.

“It had a family drama. What happens when, overnight, you go from a very structured life to the life of the President of the United States and the first lady? What happens to your children? What sacrifices are made there?”

—City News Service

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