Following a great vintage for TV and wine, one of NBC's newest sitcoms, the wine-themed Grand Crew, makes its network debut Tuesday night. From two Brooklyn Nine-Nine alums, Phil Augusta Jackson and Dan Goor, the show follows a group of young Black professionals in Los Angeles who get together at their favorite wine bar to uncork their daily adventures.
"I thought it would be really fun to have wine play a part in the name of the show, considering that the home base for the group of friends is a wine bar," Jackson told Wine Spectator via email, referring to Grand Crew’s riff on France’s grand cru classifications for the country’s most prestigious wines. "On an individual level, each cast member brings their own flavor, perspective and performative 'notes' to the table, and together they blend to make something special."
About 10 years ago, Jackson quit his advertising gig in New York and moved to California to pursue his Hollywood career. Since then, he’s earned Emmy nominations for his writing on Key and Peele and Insecure, and also worked as a writer and executive story editor on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Before his first day with Key and Peele, Jackson met with fellow writers at L.A.’s Covell wine bar, which he still frequents today with his own "grand crew." Jackson was brainstorming ideas with Brooklyn Nine-Nine creator Goor when they realized that get-togethers at the wine bar were fertile ground for Grand Crew.
Before filming the pilot episode, Jackson says he got the cast together to share a glass of wine as a way of cementing the chemistry between the actors. "Drinking wine before and during production was more of a way to not only better understand what types of things they like to drink, but also getting to know them better as individuals so I could do my best to write about their specific talents," Jackson said.
"Initially, that consisted of me being on a couple Zoom meetings with the production team, where we'd go over the script and specific wording with the cast," Reed told Wine Spectator. "For example, a character introduces a bottle as a 'Petite Sirah from one of our best years.' I told the team that in the wine world we would normally say 'vintages.'"
Reed eventually joined the production on set. During filming, he saw a bright light shining directly onto a wine bottle (which can damage the quality of a wine), and had the production crew adjust the lighting.
Jackson added that he loves giving shoutouts to Black-owned wine brands, including Darjean Jones Wines and Theopolis Vineyards. He hopes that the show will help bring more diversity to the wine community.
"My hope is that [Grand Crew] shines a light on a dynamic that already exists among Black people. And even more than that, I hope it means that we start to see more Black winemakers, Black sommeliers and more Black people getting into wine than there already are," Jackson said. "If this show helps push that forward in any way, I’d be delighted."
The first two episodes of Grand Crew are already streaming on Peacock, and the show premieres Tuesday, Jan. 4, at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
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