Jeffrey Dean Morgan pitched the idea for new at-home talk show Friday Night In With the Morgans after appearing on a special video chat edition of Talking Dead, network AMC's typically live after-show aired following new episodes of The Walking Dead. Morgan, who plays Negan on the hit zombie drama, was scheduled to appear in-studio on the March 15 episode of the Chris Hardwick-hosted talk show before the episode was cancelled amid the COVID-19 pandemic. On Friday, just weeks after Morgan appeared on a special virtual edition of Talking Dead, Morgan and wife Hilarie Burton Morgan launched cozy virtual chat show Friday Night In With the Morgans.
"We had talked for a couple years about maybe doing something together in the reality world, but we just couldn't figure out what it would be," Mr. Morgan told TV Insider. "I had just done an episode of Talking Dead and we had done it in this new style like we're doing right now — Zoom or Skype or whatever it is — and I was listening to Howard Stern coming back from a drop-off of masks that Hilarie had just made for the hospital. And it dawned on me that there's maybe something that we could do to shine a light on people that were doing good, kind of talk to our friends who obviously we're not able to see right now, and kind of combine all of that."
Morgan emailed Sarah Barnett, president of AMC Networks' Entertainment Group and AMC Studios, who was already thinking that "maybe there was something they could do in that world of technology" for a post-Talking Dead slot, Morgan said. "And it just so happened that I emailed her at the right time, and it was greenlit."
After Friday Night In was greenlit, the Morgans had "about four days to put the whole show together."
"They sent us from equipment from L.A., which I had no idea — I thought we could just do this on a computer and it ended up being four boxes of equipment and cables," Mr. Morgan said. "I built a studio in our garage, there's no way we could film in our house with our kids, so we kind of just jumped in. We're figuring it out as we go."
"We just wanted to make a safe space," added Mrs. Morgan about a reprieve from often distressing news. "So we can create a safe space for other people to turn to, that's a valuable use of our energy right now."
The premiere episode of Friday Night In featured interviews with Mr. Morgan's Supernatural co-star Jensen Ackles, wife Danneel Ackles, and The Walking Dead star Christian Serratos. The episode is currently streaming free on the AMC website.
Each half-hour episode of Friday Night In with the Morgans will have a free-flowing, raw feel featuring unfiltered conversation about how we're all getting through this unprecedented moment, as this charismatic couple connect with friends, neighbors, animals and the broader community of fans. Each week they will come together for conversations about how they are handling life in quarantine, practically helping communities, finding joy and even humor in these unprecedented times, entertaining themselves, and others, while in isolation – all done via video chat.
New episodes of Friday Night In With the Morgans premiere Fridays at 10/9c on AMC. For all things TWD, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.