“Saving Grace” actor Leon Rippy and creator Nancy Miller pose for a photo last week in The Oklahoman studio. (Photo by Paul Hellstern/The Oklahoman)
From Monday’s Life section of The Oklahoman.
This angel’s ”Saving Grace”
City-set police series resumes second season tonight on TNT
The TV show “Saving Grace” continues to explore the issues of faith, sin and spirituality through the fictional life story of hard-drinking, fast-living Oklahoma City Police Detective Grace Hanadarko.
The TNT series, starring Oscar-winner Holly Hunter as Grace, picks up with its second season at 9 p.m. Monday, six months after the mid-season finale.
Nancy Miller, the Oklahoma City native who created, executive produces and writes for the show, said Grace, her family and her fellow detectives will face interesting personal and professional issues in the coming episodes.
“Each season you kind of have to go, ‘OK, what is this season about and what are the arcs of each of the characters? So, There’ll be some surprises about the other characters that will come out this year,” said Miller in an interview from The Oklahoman offices.
Miller and actor Leon Rippy returned to Oklahoma City last week to host a special screening of tonight’s episode, the first of seven new shows to cap the season.
“Saving Grace” resumes tonight with some extra star power: Christina Ricci will guest-star for three episodes as Abby Charles, a patrol cop and single mom who becomes Grace’s temporary partner.
“Christina and Holly had worked together years ago, and I guess they had always wanted to work together again. So, this was a great opportunity to be able to have Christina on our show. …And then it was like, ‘OK, well, what are we gonna do?’ And I thought, Ah, you know, we’ve gotta partner her with Grace,” Miller said, adding there’s a chance Ricci could return for additional episodes.
Emmy winner Kathy Baker also will be featured in Season 2, and her character will be tied to Grace’s beloved nephew Clay (Dylan Minnette), whose mother, Grace’s sister, died in the Oklahoma City bombing.
“We are barreling toward something,” Miller said, careful not to reveal too much. “Grace goes through some family problems – not problems, but journeys.”
Writers are already at work on the third season, which is set to start filming April 1 and debut in summer. As the series progresses, so does the relationship between Grace and Rippy’s Earl, the unusual angel sent to guide her toward redemption.
“The first season between Earl and Grace there was a lot of conflict. The second season was deepening their friendship, and the third season, Earl kind of has a mission,” Miller said.
Although Grace has accepted Earl as part of her life, she continues to drink, curse and sleep around, often provoking exasperation or sorrow from the angel.
“She’s a tough challenge. … I keep plugging,” said Rippy, sitting smiling between Miller and his wife, Carol.
The South Carolina native believes the series’ success is tied to the universal subject matter, particularly the issue of mortality.
“When people watch it, it makes them feel, I believe, more at ease about their own demise. … Because when we were 17, we were immortal. But now we look at the clock every once in a while and go, ‘Well, what is it all about? And do I feel comfortable with that (death) or angst-ridden over it or what?’” he said.
The series is set in Oklahoma City but filmed in Los Angeles for financial reasons. Although Miller would prefer to shoot the show in her hometown, she still counts “Saving Grace” as her dream job, with a cast and crew that feel like family.
“I’m happy. It’s the gig of my career. I’m having the best time,” she said.
“Me, too. Absolutely,” Rippy added. “Even after endless hours … I wake up the next morning and go, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to get back and do it again. I can’t wait to get back to my family.’”
The second season of “Saving Grace” resumes at 9 p.m. tonight on TNT. The season will end with seven new episodes.
Christina Ricci (“Speed Racer”) will be featured in three episodes, starting with tonight’s. Emmy winner Kathy Baker (TV’s “Picket Fences”) will be a guest star later this season.
Set in Oklahoma City but filmed in California, the series stars Oscar winner Holly Hunter (“The Piano”) as a reckless, boozy police detective who receives regular visits from an angel named Earl (Leon Rippy) sent to guide her to redemption.
Production on the third season will start April 1, with the new season set to debut in summer. The third season will include an episode starring Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham (“Amadeus”) as an angel who gets into a rivalry with Earl over Grace.