LOS ANGELES – Get ready “Last Man Standing” fans! With the premiere set to air next month, the comedy series’ star Tim Allen and show producers are revealing what’s coming up this season.
For starters Allen’s character, Mike Baxter, who was previously revealed to be someone “with a conservative viewpoint," is “probably pro-Trump,” according to Allen, 65.
“I think the guy is a centrist,” the actor told reporters at the 2018 Television Critics Associations’ Summer Press Tour in Beverly Hills, Calif. Thursday.
“This guy’s a practical guy,” he explained. "He owns a big business. If it’s helping his business, he’s probably pro-Trump. He probably doesn’t defend him.
"I don’t know that it’s going to be that, I think he’s going to be more of a centrist," Allen noted. "Whatever’s good for his business and good for the state of Colorado or any policies that he does he’s going to go with."
However, Executive Producer and Showrunner Kevin Abbott cautioned that the show will not “specifically comment on Trump” in the series.
“Mike Baxter is a conservative Republican. He holds those ideals, but the character himself, I don’t think we’re going to address [Trump] one way or the other,” Abbott shared.
Aside from Baxter’s political viewpoint, Abbott also discussed how the series will address being off the air for more than a year, including the addition of a new character, and one star who won’t be returning.
“We’re coming back in real actual time,” he shared. “There will be one year-and-a-half passing in the Baxters’ lives between the last episode and the first episode.”
“One person who won’t be coming back with us is Molly Ephraim,” Executive Producer Matt Berry revealed of the actress who played Mandy Baxter, one of the three daughters on the hit comedy.
Berry, who explained that Ephraim signed onto other projects during the show’s time off, shared that the producers have been looking at other actresses to step into the role of Mandy.
“We intend to have a Mandy,” Abbott echoed. “We’re in the final stages of casting her.”
“We’re also planning on bringing another character on the show,” Abbott teased. “The Vanessa character [Mike Baxter’s wife played by Nancy Travis], when she was in her teens, went on a foreign exchange.
“She was a big supporter of that all of her life,” Abbott continued, adding that “all of the kids are getting older” so Vanessa ultimately brings in a child “to support that program.”
Abbott also explained that “you’re going to have a student from a different political system, and then you have Mike Baxter, who is going to promote the American way.”
Fans can also expect a new character playing the son of oldest daughter, Kristen Baxter (Amanda Fuller) and husband, Ryan Vogelson (Jordan Masterson).
“We’re bringing [Boyd Baxter] back at the age of 12, so we can get some fun story lines on the cusp of becoming a man,” Abbott explained. “Just more interesting stories to tell.”
In addition, viewers won’t be left wondering what the Baxter family has been up to over the past 12 months because “at some point this season” there will be an episode that features “three little vignettes” showing “what would have happened in the year off,” Abbott said of the series, which returns on September 28.
Berry also added that long-time “Last Man Standing” fans will be in for a treat “in the first scene of the first show.” However, if you’re new to the series, don’t fret because “it’ll [still] be funny,” he noted.
“The show was beloved by a large audience, and we want to keep that audience, and we hope expand it a little bit,” Abbott explained.
When asked if there were any similarities between the now-canceled “Roseanne" reboot and “Last Man Standing,” the executive producer said there were only two.
“The only similarities that we have with the ‘Roseanne’ show is that we’re a family sitcom and that the central character has a more conservative view,” Abbott explained.
“The ‘Roseanne’ reboot handled a lot of topical issues. They were [doing] the issue-of-the-week kind of thing. We don’t really do issues of the week,” he continued. “We consider ourselves a family show with a traditional character at the center of it, which is only unusual in today’s environment.”
In May, it was announced "Last Man Standing" was picked up by FOX after ABC canceled the popular show.
“We had no idea,” Allen said of the cancellation. “It was a real surprise… I thought it was done very poorly, that’s my attitude,” the star admitted, adding he “was heartbroken.”
At the time, Allen, who attended Trump’s inauguration, previously said that he believed his personal politics might have played a role.
“I’ve said this a couple of times. I’m not the character I play… I’ve worked for ABC for years. I know these people, and if it was a political motivation to move that show, they certainly wouldn’t have to admit it or ever show that side of themselves,” Allen said on Thursday, adding that he doesn’t “believe that was it.”
“I think it was a financial decision on ABC’s part. I think it was too early… [but] we’re here because of it.”