“Perfect Harmony,” a comedy starring Bradley Whitford as a former Princeton music professor who unexpectedly stumbles into choir practice at a small-town Kentucky church, premieres at 8:30 p.m. Thursday evening on NBC.
The series is “loosely based” on creator Lesley Wake Webster’s grandfather, who was a choir director, she said.
“He went to Westminster Choir College, which is a fancy, fancy chorale college — he would always impress upon me — and at the end of his life, he was living in rural Kentucky,” Wake Webster said last month at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour.
“My grandmother had passed away, and he got to a very dark place. He was surrounded by people who weren’t like the people he had gone to school with. He was a little bit of a snob and an outsider.
“But the thing that brought him sort of back to life and gave him meaning was directing this little choir and he was standing in a circle with people singing who had radically different beliefs and had been raised differently, but together they made something really beautiful and that’s really what we want to bring to this.”
Wake Webster describes “Perfect Harmony” as “a workplace show with the choir practice room as being the workplace” and being “about people who are each other’s family and find each other … through music and through friendship.”
“My experience in various church choirs and glee clubs has been it is really hard to dislike other people if you’re standing in a circle singing with them,” said Wake Webster, who had been a producer with the Fox comedy “New Girl”; the Fox animated comedy “American Dad!”; the CBS comedy “Life in Pieces”; and the ABC comedy “Speechless.”
Wake Webster told City News Service people should watch “Perfect Harmony” “to be reminded that at the end of the day we think we’re all really different, but we have more in common than we have differences.”
Future episodes will deal with the love triangle involving Ginny (Anna Camp), Dwayne (Geno Segers) and Wayne (Will Greenberg); Arthur (Whitford) attending “a church singles night that he’s not going to want to go to,” and have the choir compete in another competition, Wake Webster said.
“Perfect Harmony’s” producers are seeking to choose songs “we feel like that these people would actually sing in their real lives,” in church, at a festival or “singing grace around the table,” said Wake Webster, who said the process has given her “a real lesson in music licensing.”
“There’s a lot of public domain hymns and folk songs,” Wake Webster said. The series will also license some music.
“Perfect Harmony’s” other producers include Jason Winer, who received two outstanding director in a comedy series Emmy nominations for “Modern Family,” and Adam Anders, who was an executive music producer for the Fox musical comedy-drama “Glee.”
The premiere was filmed in Piru in Ventura County. The rest of the series is being filmed in Chatsworth “where we have access to green and trees and horses” and “which sort of looks like Kentucky if you don’t look too closely,” Wake Webster said.
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