'Brothers & Sisters' 5.0: 'The Wig Party' passes the baton

david-marshall-grant.jpg"Brothers & Sisters" producer Allison Schapker is out as showrunner while David Marshall Grant is in. The transition is an amicable one though, as both are happy to answer questions together about what's in store for the Walker family for the rest of the season, along with this Sunday's (Nov. 1) return of wayward son Tommy (Balthazar Getty).

There has been a lot of turnover in the showrunner position. What can we be expecting from "Brothers & Sisters" 5.0?

David: Hopefully more of the same. I mean, we want to keep the show going in the great way that it's been going all season.

In taking over, are there any characters that you think are under-utilized or maybe could be used in a different way?

David: Well, first of all I just want to talk about the transition. All of us have been here since the end of the first season, middle of the first season, so we've just been a big team over here doing this for the last three-and-a-half years and I know that Allison and Monica [Breen] can speak more to this, but they've been dying to start their development. This job is mind-numbing so we're just doing a sort-of transitional changing-of-chairs so to speak and they're obviously staying here to write because I don't think we could do this without them. We're just trying to keep moving forward.

As for the characters, I think all the characters have been used to great effect. One of the challenges has been to use 10 people in every episode. We've been trying to do a little more with Scotty. Allison and Monica started that ball rolling in the beginning of the year. Scotty has his own storyline in [the Nov. 8] episode "The Wig Party, " so we've been doing that some. We're always interested in finding more stories for Saul. We're always looking to help the characters that haven't been seen as much grow and put different characters with different people, pairing them up in different ways.

The biggest storyline this year has obviously been Kitty's cancer. Why Kitty? Why was she the best character to give a disease to?

Allison: Greg Berlanti had a real vision and at the beginning of the season he helped guide us and set direction and really wanted to explore a health crisis for the family and see how the Walkers dealt with that. Calista is just such a tremendous actress, as all our cast is, they're all tremendous actors, but we thought it would be challenging for Kitty given that she's a new mom and she and her husband Robert McCallister have been having problems and see how an illness shakes things up. We think she's done a beautiful job so far.

"The Wig Party" is the last episode Monica and I oversaw, we're very proud of it and David wrote a tremendous script and it speaks to the collaboration that the show has always had, especially between Monica, David and I. So that's kind of the episode where we pass the baton. Monica and I have been doing the job since the middle of season two and we've had a long run and David has always had such an incredible feel for the show, it felt like a natural time for David to take over and do tremendous things with the Walkers.

David: Part of the other thing with Kitty is that she's a new mother and facing cancer at her age is different than if Nora were to have the diagnosis, for Kitty it's really early in the prime of her life.

You're not killing off Calista, are you?

David: [ laughs] Only the episodes will tell!

Another big storyline that just popped up last episode was Holly's money problems. How far are you going to take that? Is it going to be Hobo Holly? Or is she going to have to move in with Nora, all Laverne & Shirley-like?

David: I think that again episodes will tell. Holly's going to be very much tested this season, both by her own personal finances and the troubles that are happening at Ojai Foods. It's a way to see the pressures that are being put upon Holly and the choices she makes will be the stuff of a lot of really good stories.

We saw in the previews for this week's episodes that Balthazar Getty is coming back on Sunday. Is Tommy back to stay? How long can we expect to see him around the Walker Mansion?

David: Tommy is gonna be in and out. Obviously it's exciting to see Tommy so those are going to be important episodes for us. He'll be coming in and out of the family the whole season.

So will he be around directly after "The Wig Party" or will it be a few episodes before we see him again?

David: I think it'll be a little while after this episode that you see him again. [ laughs] What am I saying? I already know for sure it'll be a couple episodes before we see him again.

Justin has taken on a lot this season, what with getting engaged and starting medical school. Who do you prefer, Med Student Justin or Crack Addict Justin?

David: Well, I think that the good thing about VICODIN ADDICT Justin (I don't think he ever did crack) --

Allison: If he did, it was off-camera.

David: I think that that all is Justin and the great thing about Justin as a character is that he's got a lot of challenges and he carries with him some baggage as a human being and so as he navigates medical school, he's always dealing with his past as a drug addict, his past as a veteran, he's dealing with his past as a particular kind of member of the Walker family who maybe wasn't considered the Most Likely to Succeed sibling. I think medical school is a great place for him to see if he's overcome those kinds of issues. Justin as a Vicodin addict is always going to be Justin, just because he's not using doesn't mean he's not an addict. He's a recovering addict.

We did a little digging and saw that back in the day, you were on four episodes of "thirtysomething" with Ken Olin and Patricia Wettig. Do you remember what it was like working with them? What is it like working with them again?

David: I have no memory it, it was so long ago. [ laughs] No, it's been great, I actually knew Ken from one of the first plays I ever did in New York City. We did it at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in the basement, honestly. He was a stripper in it, he strip-teased in it. I've known him my whole career. We crossed paths again on "thirtysomething" and now we've crossed paths on this.

He's a delight and his wife is incredibly talented and obviously an Emmy-awarded actress, so we're so fortunate to have her play this character that has really poppped. It's a part that could've not been as exciting for us, but just from the first time Holly came on the show she has been such a character. Patty has brought so much to the character.

She's a character that you want to hate but you just can't because of Patricia Wettig.

David: Exactly. You want to hate her, but ... .

In our last couple minutes, can you tell me what some of your favorite moments on "Brothers & Sisters" have been?

Allison: Actually I think one of them is coming up in "The Wig Party." Calista is going to have to face ... actually, can I say that? There's a beautiful moment in "The Wig Party" between Kitty, Nora and Sarah as a family and it's incredible to watch.

David: One of mine goes back to one of those early episodes when Nora was at the dinner party and everybody thought she didn't know about Holly sleeping with William and then she makes that toast and let's them all know that she does know.

Allison: Actually I have another one. When Kevin proposed to Scotty, one of my all-time favorites.

"Brothers & Sisters" airs Sunday nights at 10 pm ET on ABC.

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