Katherine Heigl's campaign to get back in America's good graces is in full swing, but if the trailer for her NBC show State of Affairs is any indication, she could have a longgg way to go.
In State of Affairs, Heigl plays CIA analyst Charleston "Charlie" Tucker, whose job it is to put together the President's Daily Briefing. Complicating that job is the fact that Heigl was involved with the President (played by Alfre Woodard)'s son, who died in a terrorist attack overseas. Charlie "is now determined to bring the perpetrators [of his death] to justice." There's a catch, of course, revealed by this conversation:
Charlie: Who are you?
Mystery Man: Someone hired to destroy you.
Much has been made of Heigl's attempt(s) to resuscitate her career after she said some things that made it clear she might not be the Girl Next Door everyone was expecting. Heigl's fall from grace has been so thoroughly picked over by numerous publications you'd think she'd won an Oscar only to be caught the next day making racist remarks. The fascination largely comes from Heigl's rise to fame via Grey's Anatomy, which quickly allowed her to demand pay rates for romantic comedies that put her in the league of actresses like Julia Roberts or Reese Witherspoon.
A Hollywood Reporter article from September quoted one source close to Heigl who said that with her new work, she was "really determined to put everything behind her" and prove that she's not difficult and demanding:
But this source adds that Heigl's problem primarily is with the industry. "There's a really loyal, huge fan base that's waiting to see her," he says.
For months now, Heigl's been doing a good deal of the legwork connecting with those fans on her Twitter account, keeping her everyone up-to-date with her latest activities. This is a strategy deployed by many a star attempting to prove to studios that they're not troublemakers: make it clear that public wants you and that you're worth your price tag.
@KatieHeigl is full of positivity. For a time, it was also full of promotions for a small film whose future, like Heigl's, is less than certain. In Jenny's Wedding, Heigl plays a woman marrying another woman, played by Alexis Bledel. The filmmakers started an IndieGogo campaign to raise $150,000 for the rights to songs for the soundtrack; they got $96,691.
Heigl's social media presence is reminiscent of Sarah Michelle Gellar's, who joined the service around the time her show The Crazy Ones (which was just cancelled) was gearing up to premiere. This strategy makes sense: television is a big topic of conversation on Twitter, with stars like Mindy Kaling live-tweeting their own shows. But the bottom line – made clear through Gellar's experience – is that it doesn't really matter if Heigl is super sweet and relatable on Twitter if her show isn't very good. At this point, State of Affairs looks just eh (it's from the writer/director of The Blacklist so take from that what you will).
Heigl also has a fair amount of competition from other women of her caliber in the upcoming fall television season, even on her same network. The rest of NBC's line-up is a veritable who's-who of women who used to have popular and/or well-liked television shows (plus Michael Ginsburg of Mad Men and The Mother of How I Met Your Mother making eyes at each other). Heigl will be fighting against her former Grey's Anatomy co-star Kate Walsh in Bad Judge; Happy Endings' Casey Wilson in Marry Me and Debra Messing in The Mysteries of Laura. So a cop show, a government show, a law show and a romantic comedy. Clearly the bigger issue at hand isn't Heigl's likeability, but Hollywood's total lack of creativity.