The Watchman: ‘Graves’ Diggers Rejoice, and We Celebrate 50 Years of ’60 Minutes’

Deputy editor Michael Malone’s weekly look at the programming scene

The second season of political comedy Graves starts on EPIX Oct. 22. The writers’ room began hashing out storylines in January, days after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. The new season sees Margaret, wife of former president Richard Graves, run for a Senate seat. (Sela Ward plays Margaret and Nick Nolte plays Richard.)

Season two has “a lot of the tonalities of the last election,” said Joshua Michael Stern, creator and showrunner. That includes what Graves depicts as a four-party electorate in America: right- and left-wing, then alt-right and far left.

It’s a deep dive for Richard Graves as he assesses his personal shortcomings in the White House. Stern describes it as “a study that an ex-president does — how he became the man he’s become. That, and who was that young man who started off so wide-eyed and optimistic?”

Cameos for season two include John Kasich, Glenn Beck and Barney Frank. The new batch of episodes “goes deeper into the characters and their relationships,” promised Stern.

Speaking of going deep, the book Fifty Years of 60 Minutes: The Inside Story of Television’s Most Influential News Broadcast, celebrating a half-century of the sterling news mag, comes out Oct. 24. Jeff Fager, executive producer of 60 Minutes, is the author.

His book is broken into five parts, each one looking at a different 10-year period in the show’s lifetime. Fager won’t say which decade was 60 Minutes’ best. “Each has its own distinct place in our history, and has been part of the evolution of the program,” he said. “Because we’ve changed a lot over 50 years in terms of our content.”

Even as the content has changed, Fager said the “standards and values” have not. “A big reason for it,” he added, “is because Don Hewitt just hammered them into us.”

60 Minutes has new energy this season. First off, Scott Pelley departed the CBS Evening News chair and can focus full-time on the show. Pelley had always taken considerable pride in his 60 Minutes stories. “I love that he’s no longer tethered to that chair,” Fager said, “so he can do what he loves doing the most.”

Oprah Winfrey also started as a 60 Minutes correspondent this season. Fager said she’s a righteous addition to the crew. “She’s a natural reporter — she’s constantly reading and chasing down things that are of interest to her,” he said. “It fits so well with us.”

So will there be another Fifty Years of 60 Minutes book in 2067? “As long as we stick to those standards and values we care so much about,” Fager said, “60 Minutes will be on the air a long time.”