Perfect Harmony is NBC’s new musical comedy series about a rural church choir that gets the director it never thought it needed when a salty, Ivy League music professor (played by Bradley Whitford) stumbles through their door.
Show creator and executive producer Lesley Wake Webster spoke on the personal inspiration behind the series during NBC’s presentation at the TCA press tour.
“I grew up singing in church choirs, going to church. My grandfather, who Bradley’s character was modeled on, was a choir director by trade… at the end of his life, he was living in rural Kentucky, my grandmother had passed away, and he got to a very dark place,” Webster shared.
“The thing that brought him back to life and gave him meaning was directing this little choir. He was standing in a circle with people singing who had dramatically different beliefs and had been raised differently but together they made something really beautiful. That’s really what we want to bring to this. Yes, it’s set in a church but it’s really about people who are each other’s family and find each other. They do that through music and through friendship.”
Webster was joined onstage by star Whitford, who also serves as an executive producer, along with co-stars Anna Camp, Spencer Allport, Will Greenberg, Tymberlee Hill, Rizwan Manji, Geno Segers as well as executive producers Jason Winer, Jon Radler, and Adam Anders.
Reflecting on the changing TV landscape since his Emmy award-winning stint on West Wing, Whitford said, “a show of the West Wing’s aspiration used to be an anomaly. I actually think we’re living in this amazing time where those kind of aspirations are no longer anomalies. I think network TV is reacting to that elevation of the aspiration.”
Whitford was looking to get back in the comedy space and was keen on working with Winer, who is known for being one of the directors of ABC’s long-running series, Modern Family.
“Jason had something to do with one of my favorite comedies ever,” said Whitford. “I knew I wanted to work with Jason and then I read Lesley’s script and thought it was just personal, specific, genuine and about something that I think is helpful now which is how music can bring people together who are very different in a lovely way.”
Speaking of music, Anders, who was the executive music producer on Glee, spoke about his different approach to the music for the show. “Naturally, this is more grounded. The best singers are in churches. The music is incredible in churches,” he said. “Glee was more fantastical and we broke all the rules in a really cool way so for me it’s really fun to do the opposite.”
Perfect Harmony premieres September 26 on NBC.