Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
It was former Taxi star Marilu Henner’s appearance on 60 Minutes in December 2010 that was key in finally bringing to fruition — following a two-year gestation — the new CBS procedural Unforgettable, showrunner Ed Redlich stressed during a noontime TCA panel. The new Tuesday 10 PM drama premieres Sept. 20 and stars Poppy Montgomery as a former detective who carries a rare condition that allows her to remember literally everything she experiences. And it’s inspired in part on the true-life story of Henner, who is one of perhaps a half-dozen known individuals who have both the gift and burden of what’s termed “autobiographical memory.” That had been the focus of the 60 Minutes piece some eight months ago.
Henner is serving as a consultant on Unforgettable, permitting the cast and production team to get an up-close look at what the condition really entails. “When you see how this (condition) comes across, it literally blows your mind,” Redlich told the gathered critics. “Do we take some dramatic license with it in the show? Yes. But not a lot. … We sent a copy of the pilot to Marilu, who finally got a chance to pop in the DVD. The scene where Poppy’s character pulls stuff out of the air about a specific day (that happened years before), well, within seconds Marilu pauses the DVD, calls me and says, ‘No, that wasn’t Friday, it was a Tuesday.’ In that moment she’d seen it, she immediately knew. That’s the level of ability we’re talking about.”
Montgomery herself experienced a similar mind-blowing moment with Henner. “We’d had lunch together and I of course couldn’t remember a thing about it. But Marilu tells me, ‘Oh, you were wearing a tank top, you had salmon, you didn’t really eat it, you were late…’ It’s an unbelievable thing.” Redlich added that there’s also some exploratory discussions going on about expanding Henner’s participation in the show to add an acting role as well. “But it’s still in the nascent stages,” the producer said.