Inside Lincoln Heights with Executive Producer Kathleen McGhee-Anderson
By Troy Rogers, The Dead Bolt
After two successful seasons, the cast of ABC family’s Lincoln Heights has matured together to find their stride in the show’s third season, which premiered on September 16. With the family dynamic changing within the Sutton family as Sage moves in and love looms with Charles, the rest of the family will need to adapt in their own unique ways. With season three of Lincoln Heights now in full swing in ABC Family’s Monday night schedule, we had the good fortune to spend a few minutes with Lincoln Heights executive producer Kathleen McGhee-Anderson to learn more about the Sutton family dynamic, how some characters will handle new changes, and how things will shake down with the Suttons in school.
THE DEADBOLT: Where did the idea of the show come from?
KATHLEEN MCGHEE-ANDERSON: The idea came from another writer who approached ABC Family with this amazing idea and they went with the idea and the development of a pilot script and from there they produced the pilot script and it became an actual one hour that made the execs at ABC Family cry and his name is Seth Freeman. And so they picked the show up and it was slated to be the dramatic series Lincoln Heights. Prior to the production of the show, he was replaced by me and I came in and developed the scripts for the show and took the show over from that conception phase from the pilot on.
THE DEADBOLT: How involved were you in the casting process?
ANDERSON: Not at all, I got this wonderful gift handed to me. The original idea and the pilot had been made. It had been shot in San Diego with the terrific director, Kevin Hooks, that brought Seth’s vision to life. And so when I stepped in they were struggling because they didn’t have any scripts ready and they were about to shoot within two weeks. So I got this wonderful jumping off point with amazing actors and this premise that was so full of material that I hadn’t seen explored before. Like I said, [I had] been given the best creative opportunity I could ask for actually.
THE DEADBOLT: Is the series open-ended or do you have an end-date in mind?
ANDERSON: It’s open-ended, totally. I mean, the premise of the series is about whether or not this family is going to be able to survive in this neighborhood and whether they can really raise the family safely and make Lincoln Heights a better place at the same time. And so the show is ultimately about fitting in and belonging and it’s about this neighborhood and I think that anything goes. We’re really totally opened to the ups and downs about that journey for them. But I think ultimately we know they will remain in Lincoln Heights.
THE DEADBOLT: With Sage moving in, how will that change the Sutton family dynamic?
ANDERSON: Well, drama is based on conflict and so everybody has a different reaction to Sage in the family. Cassie, of course, her relationship with Sage is predicated even more so in her relationship with Charles. And Sage is in love with Charles. She’s a girl who’s pretty much raised herself, her fathers in Lincoln Heights; her mothers in San Francisco; Sage needs a family; she’s from a broken home. So Sage is quite happy to be with the Sutton family. Cassie, of course, is going to be stressed by it. Lizzie, of course, is the sibling that makes the best of every situation and Tay is a little bit impressed by Sage.
So everybody has a different reaction. Of course, Jen, is the ultimate mother and she wants to help this little bird with the broken wing and Eddie is the ultimate protector and of course he’s very loyal to his friend and would do anything to help Lund get through this difficult period. So they’re going to be tested by Sage’s presence and, at the same time, I think that test is also going to bring the family together stronger. And she’s going to be living in that mysterious room at the top of steps, but at least it gives us a lot of opportunity to explore some different story lines.
THE DEADBOLT: How are you going to handle Cassie’s pregnancy?
ANDERSON: Well, I can’t give that away. Let’s just say, it will be unique. Yes, and she’s not pregnant now. We don’t know if she’s pregnant. We haven’t given that away either. She had the scare as you know last night. But she’s not pregnant.
THE DEADBOLT: Will there be more story lines involving the Suttons’ classmates?
ANDERSON: Yes. You know we have a new family in town. We have the family of the new minister, they’ve moved from Chicago. And they were introduced in our second episode and the Kingston family has moved and it’s the classmate for Tay.
And a classmate for Cassie, and Tay’s classmate gets a crush on Lizzie. So all of the new Kingston family really does interact with the Sutton family. And in fact, as you know, Mrs. Kingston is now working at the clinic. She’s helping revamp the clinic that Jen works at. So Mrs. Kingston’s also interacting with the Sutton family. And then Reverend Kingston has big plans for changing Lincoln Heights and who with the dad, Russell, Eddie, having been raised in Lincoln Heights, of course, he’s got strong feelings and some high stakes about which direction Lincoln Heights moves in. So this new family, this new Kingston family has a lot to do with the way that this next season is going to shape up.
THE DEADBOLT: I talked to Russell about a month ago and he couldn’t give me a lot of info on what’s going to happen with Eddie’s father now that we know that Ruben killed his mother. Can you fill us in on anything else?
ANDERSON: Well, you know the dad? His father’s in rehab right now. Last season his father was having some issues with his drinking and that’s because he had so many issues that had not been dealt with in terms of the murder of his wife, Eddie’s mother. So now he’s in rehab and we don’t see too much of his father this season, because his father is dealing with that very personal problem and we’re concentrating on what’s going on in the Sutton household right now. We’ll see more of his father, but probably not until another season or so.
— Troy Rogers