Mourning friends consider ‘A Million Little Things’ in new ABC series

New ABC show focuses on a suicide’s survivors
“A Million Little Things” premieres Wednesday, Sept. 26, on ABC.

“A Million Little Things” might make you think of something big — namely, “The Big Chill.”

Similarly a story of people impacted by a mutual acquaintance’s suicide, the ABC series premiering Wednesday, Sept. 26, boasts an ensemble of familiar performers. Ron Livingston (“Office Space”) plays a major linking factor, a family man and businessman who takes his own life … prompting other Bostonians who knew him well to do deep soul-searching.

Stephanie Szostak (“Satisfaction”) and Nickelodeon alum Lizzy Greene play his widow and teenage daughter, with James Roday (“Psych”), David Giuntoli (“Grimm”), Christina Ochoa (“Valor”), Romany Malco (“Think Like a Man”), Christina Moses (“The Originals”), Grace Park (“Hawaii Five-0”) and Allison Miller (of the also-similar “13 Reasons Why”) also among equals in the cast.

Though his character Jon’s death sparks “A Million Little Things” — with the title referring to “things” that comprise a friendship – Livingston remains very visible via frequent flashbacks. ”It’s interesting,” the actor reflects, “especially since I’m not actually part of the dying scene. You see ‘before’ and ‘after.’ It’s more like I’m playing somebody in the past as it happens. Romany plays a director/cinematographer, so he’s kind of the documentarian of the group, and it allows us to really go anywhere.”

Creator-producer Nash allows that the 1983 movie “The Big Chill” has been a major influence on his life and work. He reasons, “As an artist, you look at something and you go, ‘If that was the only thing I ever did, would I be happy with that being my only credit?’ I think ‘The Big Chill’ certainly falls in that category. The way we differ is, after (the film’s suicidal) Alex died, everyone went home. Here, we’re going to stay, and we’re going to watch the transformation that takes place.”

Recognizing that death is a risky starting point for a series, Nash hopes the result is “the (message that) friendship might be the one thing to save you from yourself. I did something ABC probably doesn’t want me to say, but when we were waiting to hear whether we were going to go as a series, I pulled five couples that I hang out with all the time together. I said to them, ‘I’m going to let you watch the pilot. Don’t tell anyone we’re doing this.’

“And afterwards, the women got up and they started talking. And the men just sat there for, like, minutes and then started talking. We started a conversation that I haven’t had in 15 years … so if our show gives people the opportunity to start a conversation that it seems like as a country we need to have, then I think we’re really excited for that.”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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