'Murphy Brown' Plans Aretha Franklin Tribute for Revival's Premiere

The Murphy Brown revival season premiere will include a tribute to the late Aretha Franklin, creator Diane English said Monday.

"We did do something in the first episode" in tribute to the Queen of Soul, English told TVLine.

Franklin was a major part of the original Murphy Brown. Her song "Respect" was featured in the original pilot, and the title character, played by Candice Bergen, was written as a big Franklin fan. In the season four finale, she sang "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" to her son. Franklin also appeared in a 1991 episode to sing a duet of "Natural Woman" with Bergen.

The new season of Murphy Brown picks up 20 years after season 10 ended in 1998. Murphy comes out of retirement to host a cable news program, Murphy in the Morning. Aside from Bergen, Joe Regalbuto, Faith Ford and Grant Shaud are reprising their roles as Frank Fontana, Corky Sherwood and Miles Silverberg, respectively. Charles Kimbrough will also appear in a handful of episodes as Jim Dial again.

Jake McDorman joined the series as Murphy's now-grown son Avery, who followed his mother into the TV journalism business, but works at a rival network. Nik Dodani is playing Pat, the social media manager for Murphy's new cable show. Tyne Daly stars as Phyllis, the sister of bar owner Phil, the original series' bar owner.

Like the original series, the Murphy Brown revival will not shy away from touching on topical subjects. During the Television Critics Association Press Tour in August, English even said they stopped writing episodes at episode nine because they did not want to get too far ahead of reality.

"Some things are going to drop in September, I think, and as we get into our production schedule, it becomes more and more compressed," English explained. "We air three weeks from the time we shoot the show and we're shooting digitally so we have the ability to pop in something extremely topical."

Franklin died on Aug. 16 after a long battle with advanced pancreatic cancer. During her career, Franklin won 18 Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her long list of hits also includes "Think," "Chain of Fools," "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)" and "I Say A Little Prayer."

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Murphy Brown kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 9:30 p.m. ET on CBS. In the meantime, you can check out 18 classic episodes on CBS' streaming platform CBS All Access.

Photo Credit: NBC