*Tuesday’s episode of “New Girl” will be a bit different.
After its strong Sept. 22 debut (it was the highest-rated fall sitcom premiere on Fox since “The Bernie Mac Show” 10 years ago) the series continues this week with the exit of cast member Damon Wayans Jr., who had joined the series anticipating that his ABC show “Happy Endings” would not be picked up for a second season.
Only “Happy Endings” had a happy ending.
When ABC renewed the show, Wayans was forced to back out of “New Girl,” even though he had already shot the pilot. Producers at FOX decided they would keep Wayans in the first episode as Coach, one of three male roommates who take in a quirky female roomie played by Zooey Deschanel.
But in tonight’s second episode, Lamorne Morris will move back in town in as Winston, a former basketball player who owns the apartment and kicks out Coach — who had been subletting the room.
Morris says he ended up being Wayans’ replacement over “hundreds” of other actors.
“No one’s really familiar with me but I had a big commercial presence, so they were like, ‘We need to get him in.’” he told EURweb exclusively.
Before Wayans was even in the picture, producers had expressed interest in casting Morris for the pilot, but the Chicago-born actor had just booked a CBS series and was unavailable. However, in a serendipitous turn of events, Morris’ CBS project stalled and Wayans experienced a sudden happy ending.
Suddenly, Morris — the one-time host of Cartoon Network’s game show BrainRush and various BET shows — was being requested by FOX to come back and audition again for “New Girl.”
“I guess it was like a two-way thing. They really wanted me, but they wanted to make sure,” said Morris. “They pretty much saw hundreds of actors, and I had to read against all of them, but I’m here. I’m grateful.”
In the bonus audio below, Morris gives more details about his character Winston, what Winston was doing before moving back to the apartment and his relationship with the other roommates.
And how does Wayans Jr. feel about having to leave “New Girl?”
“It was very flattering and it was very cool to be a part of something else that worked and I wish the best for them,” he told us during interviews for Happy Endings. “But, this is my home now.”
“New Girl” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Fox.