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Returning “9-1-1 ”showrunner Tim Minear details his season 7 plans, including some returning characters

The co-creator of the first-responder drama takes over for Kristen Reidel, but will still oversee spinoff "Lone Star."

Tim Minear is a busy man.

"I may have to call 9-1-1 before the day is over," the 9-1-1 co-creator jokes(?) to Entertainment Weekly amid the hectic rush toward the premiere of season 7 on March 14.

Speaking to EW for our exclusive preview of the upcoming epic three-part premiere, the disaster series mastermind opens up about serving as sole showrunner and taking over duties from Kristen Reidel (who will remain an executive producer on the series) as the series moves from Fox to ABC.

Minear and the 9-1-1 cast speak fondly of their time on Fox, but ABC is treating 9-1-1 “like a first-year show,” says the showrunner. “They're relaunching everything and they're super excited, really supportive. It's all shiny, and the enthusiasm is through the roof.”

That said, planning this season has been "like planning the invasion of Normandy every week," admits Minear. The showrunner is currently navigating the logistics of having two of his marquee characters, Bobby (Peter Krause) and Athena (Angela Bassett), in crisis at sea for three episodes while the rest of the cast — Buck (Oliver Stark), Eddie (Ryan Guzman), Hen (Aisha Hinds), Chimney (Kenneth Choi), and Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) — remain on land.

<p>ABC/ Youtube</p> Bobby and Athena's honeymoon cruise goes awry in the season 7 premiere of '9-1-1'.

ABC/ Youtube

Bobby and Athena's honeymoon cruise goes awry in the season 7 premiere of '9-1-1'.

It's required the largest roll room ever crafted and shooting up to five episodes at once, with crews on different sets shooting with different groups of the cast. (Read our full Spotlight on season 7 for more details on that.)

"You have to come up with stories that can service the other group of characters that can film on separate stages," he says. "And hopefully by the time it's all put together, you won't really feel that people are separated. By the way, that's also part of the story. It's a thing that we do a lot, which I think is really successful, which is you separate the characters and then they fight to get back together."

<p>Disney/Justin Stephens</p> Oliver Stark as '9-1-1' firefighter Evan "Buck" Buckley.

Disney/Justin Stephens

Oliver Stark as '9-1-1' firefighter Evan "Buck" Buckley.

So what else does Minear have planned for season 7?

"I've had a lot of fun writing Buck and Eddie, and playing their dynamic," he says. "Their friendship is the core of that coupling. I'm trying to hit it in every episode."

In the season 7 premiere, that will manifest with Buck being called in to assist when Eddie's son, Christopher (Gavin McHugh), begins dating. Meanwhile, Hen is "really exploring" her role as interim captain while Bobby is at sea, and at home she and Karen (Tracie Thoms) are "attempting to expand their family" once again, he says.

<p>Disney/Justin Stephens</p> Jennifer Love Hewitt as '9-1-1' dispatcher Maddie Kendall.

Disney/Justin Stephens

Jennifer Love Hewitt as '9-1-1' dispatcher Maddie Kendall.

"And of course, one of my favorite pairings is Chimney and Maddie," Minear adds. "Those two, Kenny and Jennifer, just have amazing chemistry together — made for a rom-com. But they are both incredible dramatic actors as well. And finding an interesting way into their wedding has been a lot of fun, because I had just come off [spinoff 9-1-1: Lone Star] where I had done the big wedding between TK and Carlos. I didn't want to do that again, so I think I came up with something different and I think it's going to be incredible."

Minear remains co-showrunner of Lone Star (returning to Fox later this year) alongside Rashad Raisani, but there won't be a crossover between the sister series this season (which is just 10 episodes, due to the writers' and actors' strike last year).

<p>Disney/Chris Willard</p> Romy Rosemont and Daniel Roebuck on the season 7 premiere of '9-1-1'.

Disney/Chris Willard

Romy Rosemont and Daniel Roebuck on the season 7 premiere of '9-1-1'.

That said, season 2 guest actors Romy Rosemont and Daniel Roebuck will reprise their roles as Lola and Norman in the season premiere. (Remember Lola topless on the freeway sign? Well the couple has rekindled their romance and found happiness as cruise ship retirees.) And, later, former 118ers Tommy Kinard (Lou Ferrigno Jr.) and Ravi (Anirudh Pisharody) will pop up, as well as Buck and Maddie’s parents (Gregory Harrison and Dee Wallace).

“And we are doing kind of a crossover on 9-1-1,” Minear teases. “But it's not with Lone Star.” (When pressed for more details, the co-creator slyly muses, “Is it The Rookie?... Probably not, since I just said The Rookie.”)

Whatever show universes are about to collide, Minear has a happy cast ready to execute his vision.

<p>Disney/Justin Stephens</p> Ryan Guzman as '9-1-1' firefighter Eddie Diaz.

Disney/Justin Stephens

Ryan Guzman as '9-1-1' firefighter Eddie Diaz.

"I think we're coming back stronger than ever," Guzman tells EW. "We're on a new network, and I think that does have something to do with it. I think we really want to make an impact on this new network and give everybody exactly what they want, and then something they didn't know they needed. The right people are doing the right jobs. Tim Minear is back in full effect, and he's writing some incredible stuff. I remember reading the first script and texting him right away and just being like, 'Oh my God, you are awesome.'"

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