CBS ‘Superior Donuts’ co-star lured on the ‘Big Bang Theory’ set

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“Superior Donuts” stars Jermaine Fowler (from left), Judd Hirsch and Katey Sagal discuss the show with reporters Monday in Pasadena, California. | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

PASADENA, Calif. — It’s funny what brings actors to roles.

Judd Hirsch, star of the new CBS comedy “Superior Donuts,” was acting in a play in Massachusetts when he got an enticing treat to try to attract him to the role of a doughnut shop owner in a gentrifying Chicago neighborhood.

“They sent me a box of doughnuts,” Hirsch told television critics Monday.

Despite the cute enticement, it was more the show’s pedigree, a 2008 play by Pulitzer Prize and Tony winner Tracy Letts, and the show’s writers and fellow cast members that attracted Hirsch. “I gave [the doughnuts] to the crew,” the “Taxi” star said.

Co-star and executive producer Jermaine Fowler, who plays a young employee who brings the fusty Uptown doughnut shop into modern times, might have liked such a lure, having grown up with Krispy Kremes. “I love doughnuts, but only the glazed ones.”

On set, he sometimes asks Hirsch which pastries are edible. “There are prop doughnuts and real doughnuts,” Fowler said. “I have to make sure I don’t chip my tooth.”

Hirsch, not breakfast sweets, was part of the persuasion effort for a third cast member, Katey Sagal, who plays a Chicago police officer and regular customer. She received the script for the new series while guest starring in an episode of “The Big Bang Theory” where she played the mother of Penny, while Hirsch played the father of Leonard.

“Judd told me I should do it,” Sagal said. “I came in at the last minute.”

“Donuts,” debuting Feb. 2, is based on the play that had its world premiere at Steppenwolf Theatre in 2008 as Letts’ follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize-winning “August: Osage County.” The series plans to deal with topical issues, such as racial profiling, hate crimes and gun control, but it won’t be too political.

“This isn’t going to be an issue-of-the-week show,” executive producer Garrett Donovan said. “If we look at cultural issues, it’s through the lens of the characters. The gun story is [about] the effect a gun has on our characters’ lives. It’s not a political thing.”

However, Bob Daily, another executive producer, sees an opportunity. “If we were to incite a tweet war with the president of the United States, we probably would not turn down the publicity.”

Bill Keveney, USA TODAY

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