Beverly Hills, Calif. • In 1995, Fox premiered a sitcom titled "Partners," about two longtime best friends who were partners in an architecture firm with a sassy secretary. In the pilot, one guy's engagement caused trouble in the relationship between the best friends.
In September, CBS will premiere a sitcom titled "Partners," about two longtime best friends who are partners in an architecture firm with a sassy secretary. In the pilot, one guy's engagement causes trouble in the relationship between the best friends.
In the new "Partners," one of the guys (Michael Urie) is gay; the other (David Krumholtz) isn't. In the 1995 sitcom, the two characters (Tate Donovan and Jon Cryer) were both straight. But the premise, the dynamic and the events in the two pilots are astonishingly similar.
The "creators" and producers of the new "Partners," David Kohan and Max Mutchnick ("Will & Grace"), did their best to dodge and weave around questions about the similarities. Kohan said they didn't want to change the title which really wasn't the point.
Originally, his characters weren't architects, they were writers, "but then we felt like there's something about writing that's a little insular." So they chose to make the show more like the 1995 sitcom.
Mutchnik referred to it as "an unfortunate coincidence."
Really? An "unfortunate coincidence"? Not only did James Burrows direct the 1995 and the 2012 "Partners," but the 1995 sitcom was created and produced by Jeff Greenstein and Jeff Strauss and Greenstein was the showrunner on "Will & Grace" for several seasons.
Kohan insisted he was "not very familiar with" the 1995 "Partners." And, given a chance to back off his "unfortunate coincidence" comment, Mutchnick did. Sort of.
"Look, he's a great writer," Mutchnick said of Greenstein. "He worked for us for many years and it was a wonderful working experience. I'm not really sure why this is interesting to him because "
At which point, I interrupted him. I asked the question. I wasn't speaking for Greenstein. I haven't spoken to him in a couple of years. And it's simply disingenuous to suggest that he somehow planted the question.
"I actually never saw 'Partners,' " Mutchnick insisted. "I know about 'Partners.' But it just has kind of been a surprise to us, because this is the story of the two of us, and my husband and his wife. That's the show that we're doing."
Clearly, there are coincidences in TV. With greater frequency, shows seem similar. The "Partners"/ "Partners" similarities seem to go far beyond coincidence, however.
And given that CBS is the network that sued because of the similarities between ABC's "Glass House" and its own "Big Brother," there's a huge amount of irony that CBS is airing "Partners."
Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.