New season 9 blacklist on NBC
Brooklyn Nine-Nine ends with a long-delayed, shortened season 8
The blacklist had an unenviable task ahead of them with Friday’s episode: remember actor Clark Middleton, who died in 2020, and effectively write down his recurring character, Glen.
The resulting hour titled « The Wellstone Agency » managed to do both of those things with a touching goodbye to Middleton and his alter ego. Though the episode also fueled Red’s pursuit of Liz, the more poignant focus was the loss of Middleton’s DMV regional manager, who, like his actor, had died of West Nile virus in real life.
But among the episode’s darkest moments – like Red’s heartfelt eulogy for Glen held in the Statue of Liberty – there was a certain lightness to it, including the strange and amusing plot that Glen had considered to be a longstanding friendship with singer Huey Lewis. The two men actually had no such relationship, but in a spirit of keeping the lie and not leaving his mother devastated, Glen Red had posthumously hired Lewis to track down Lewis and persuade him to visit Glen’s memorial. (Despite all the adversities, Red did it and Lewis was a guest in several scenes as himself.)
In the following, the blacklist EPs Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath explain, among other things, how Lewis came about, including in Sweet -Tribute-Episode.
TVLINE | In a previous interview, we briefly talked about how you would approach Clark’s death on the show and it sounded like Glen would die best. Why did Glen’s death feel most appropriate instead of otherwise writing it down? BOKENKAMP | We always looked at every idea – good and bad – so we researched ideas where Glen might have been fired, or going on vacation, or where we just won’t see Glen again. But Clark was such an important part of the blacklist that it wasn’t long before we picked up the idea of recognizing his death in the show’s narrative framework. Indeed, it would be strange for us not to acknowledge it. After embracing this idea, we felt we had an opportunity not only to talk about Glen – who he was and what he meant to the show – but we also had the opportunity to pay tribute to Clark Middleton, EISENDRATH | We loved Clark. The recognition of his passing on the show gave us the opportunity to praise both the character he played on the show and, to some extent, the man himself.
TVLINE | Similarly, Glen’s cause of death is known as the West Nile Virus – just like Clark’s cause of death in real life. Was there ever a thought of changing Glen’s cause of death, or did it feel most appropriate to honor what really happened to Clark? BOKENKAMP | In all fairness, during this time of COVID when so many people tragically died, it was a total shock to learn that Clark was dying on West Nile. It was just so random, weird, and unexpected. We thought, “Well, that’s exactly what happened. It took us by surprise, and maybe it should surprise the characters on our show. “
TVLINE | How did Huey Lewis look come together? Was he always the celebrity named in the script or did you have to adjust that depending on who you could get on the show? BOKENKAMP | First of all, I’m a huge Huey Lewis fan. I’ve always loved his music. My kids love his music now. And we really wanted to get him on the show. But the truth is, one of my dear friends, Kurt Kuenne, is a frequent blacklisted director who happens to be working on a new documentary about Huey, and he got to know him pretty well. When the show Huey made the offer, I called Kurt and asked him to contact him directly explaining that this is not just another episode of the television, but a tribute to a man who is running the show, and to fans of the show, absolutely loved. Huey totally got it. He was a great sport, a total professional, and he’s been absolutely fantastic after that.
TVLINE | And I loved Red’s eulogy for Glen, just a really nice scene to end the episode. While writing this monologue, did you feel the responsibility or pressure to praise Clark at the same time? Was it a difficult monologue to find just the right thing? BOKENKAMP | What James [Spader] is doing in this monologue is just amazing. It’s really one of my favorite moments on the show. The time he takes and the emotions he brings to the scene are just beautiful. As for the words – that’s probably no secret, but this speech isn’t so much about Glen Carter as it is about Clark Middleton and how much we’ll miss him. Not only was he a great actor, he was a really cute and smart guy and I feel blessed for the time we have to spend together. EISENDRATH | [There was no] pressure, just a desire to honor how we felt about him. He has overcome some significant hurdles in his life. There is a fearlessness in that, and that fearlessness was fundamental to his association with Reddington. Spader talked about it on the show to honor Glen. We hope that in a way it honored Clark too.