'Up All Night' Season 2 Changes: Sean Hayes Joins Cast, Sitcom Dropping 'Ava' Talk Show

07/31/2012 04:39 pm ET

NBC's nascent comedy "Up All Night" is going to look different when it returns for its sophomore season. "Will & Grace" star Sean Hayes has been cast in a multi-episode arc as Ava's (Maya Rudolph) former accompanist, the network revealed on Facebook.

"Up All Night," which stars Will Arnett and Christina Applegate, is also ditching its show-within-a-show "Ava," and re-tooling around "smaller, lower-key home stories," Todd VanDerWerff, TV editor at the A.V. Club reported from set visit day at the 2012 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour.

NPR's Monkey See blog also reported on "Ava" changing direction, tweeting, "They're basically dropping the Ava show and concentrating on home stories."

But while the show might be moving away from "Ava," it won't be moving away from Rudolph's character. "Maya Rudolph is not leaving. Ava will be doing other things," Monkey See clarified. Maybe reviving her R&B career with Hayes' character?

Critics were mixed on how Ava and her talk show setting worked within the context of what "Up All Night" did best. When the sitcom premiered, HuffPost TV critic Maureen Ryan wrote about the tension:

Ava is supposed to be both a powerful chat-show magnate and Reagan's regular-gal best friend, and it's not clear that "Up All Night" knows how to modulate between those two extremes. For Ava to be funny, she has to be selfish and clueless; for her to be Reagan's friend, she can't be all that clueless or excessively mean to her underlings. If "Up All Night" can't get that character right, it's not clear that the comedy's other charms will be able to compensate for its wobbly diva situation.

"Up All Night" Season 2 premieres Thursday, Sept. 20 at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

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