The old "Partners" (pictured at left) came after the success of "Friends" and was unfairly lumped in with similar young-people-in-the-big-city "Friends" clones.
The show starred Jon Cryer and Tate Donovan as best friends who worked together as architects. The pilot, featuring one guy proposing to his girlfriend and how that complicates the guys' friendship, was directed by James Burrows and the series was written and created by Jeff Greenstein and Jeff Strauss. It aired on Monday night at 9 and later 9:30 p.m.
Greenstein went on to work on "Will & Grace," which was created by Max Mutchnick and David Kohan.
Mutchnick and Kohan are the creators of the new "Partners" which stars David Krumholtz ("Numbers") and Michael Urie ("Ugly Betty") as best friends who work together as architects. This new pilot, featuring one guy proposing to his girlfriend and how that complicates the guys' friendship, was also directed by James Burrows. It airs on Monday night at 8:30 p.m. One deviation from the original "Partners," where both friends were straight, is that in the new version the Urie character is openly gay, like Mutchnick.
At a press conference this morning, CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler described CBS's "Partners" as a show about working with your best friend with whom you've grown up and "how do you find that balance between what you tell your partner and what you tell your best friend." Pretty much the same premise as Fox's series. She said CBS's "Partners" was inspired by the friendship of creators Mutchnick and Kohan.
Full disclosure: Greenstein, most recently a writer/director on "Desperate Housewives," is someone I've been friendly with since I met him on the set of "Friends" while writing a book about Generation X and television. He declined an interview request about the new "Partners" that sure sounds a lot like his old show. But he's not been shy about voicing his displeasure on Twitter and Facebook. Similar shows happen all the time in TV but Greenstein's upset is understandable given the players involved. After "Partners" he devoted six years to "Will & Grace," much of that time running the show in Mutchnick & Kohan's absence.
Some of Greenstein's recent posts:
All indications are that CBS's Partners is going to get picked up. So I guess it's OK to rip off the title, premise, pilot story, characters' jobs and pilot director from a colleague's series and claim it as your own. Have fun!
I keep waiting for something—I dunno, justice?—to keep CBS's Partners from getting on the air, but it looks like it's happening anyway.
Fox's "Partners" opening credits sequence: