New projects for Jeffrey Donovan, Mindy Kaling, Ellen Pompeo, Jay Leno

Among those discussing their new projects were Amesbury native Jeffrey Donovan (left) and Everett native Ellen Pompeo.
Among those discussing their new projects were Amesbury native Jeffrey Donovan (left) and Everett native Ellen Pompeo.Getty Images

The Television Critics Association summer press tour, a three-week extravaganza devoted to the upcoming TV season, just wrapped up in Beverly Hills, and we learned a few things about local stars and their projects:

■  “Burn Notice” star Jeffrey Donovan, who hails from Amesbury, is switching networks — and tones — for the second season of FX’s “Fargo.” “After seven years of [playing] a very groomed and coiffed character that was very smart and always the smartest guy in the room, it was a joy to be the dumbest guy in the room, on set and in the show,” Donovan said during a panel discussion with his fellow cast members Ted Danson (“Cheers”), Jean Smart (“Designing Women”), and Jesse Plemons (“Friday Night Lights”). Donovan admitted he hadn’t seen the series’s acclaimed first season before he got the call, but his wife has been a big fan. “But then I finally sat down and watched it and, like everyone, was blown away.” “Fargo” premieres Oct. 4 on FX.


■  Cantabridgian Mindy Kaling’s “The Mindy Project” will have its Hulu premiere Sept. 15. She spent much of her TCA session wrangling costar and “Mindy” writer Ike Barinholtz, who livened things up with his quirky humor. Kaling also expressed gratitude for the new life the show was given after being canceled by Fox. “I feel, personally, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the show, and I’m so grateful,” she said. “I just want to make the show better than it’s ever been. And 26 episodes is more than I’ve done in any series I’ve ever been on. So it went from being, like, ‘Oh, we’re never going to do the show again’ to ‘We’re going to have more work than we ever had and be able to tell 150 people in my crew that that’s the commitment that Hulu had made.’ It makes you really emotional.”

■  Everett’s Ellen Pompeo said it wasn’t easy losing onscreen husband Derek Shepard — a.k.a. “McDreamy,” played by Patrick Dempsey — but it’s created possibilities for her character. “As difficult as those decisions are, it’s really her best writing,” Pompeo said of showrunner Shonda Rhimes, who was also on the panel. “As an actor, those are the best scenes to play. That’s the meatiest stuff. So as difficult as it is, you know, we have something really juicy.” She said when the ABC medical drama returns Sept. 24, it will explore her character’s post-Derek life. “To tell that story about how life does go on after what you think is impossible is something that so many people can relate to,” Pompeo said. “If we give anybody, even one person, a little bit of comfort or open their eyes to a new idea, make them feel some new joy when they thought they couldn’t again, that’s a story worth telling.”


■  Jay Leno announced he’s returning to TV. The former “Tonight Show” host will be premiering “Jay Leno’s Garage” on CNBC Oct. 7. The Andover-bred comedian will be spotlighting cars and motorcycles in his vast collection. Leno will welcome fellow car and bike enthusiasts, including Keanu Reeves, Tim Allen, and Laurence Fishburne. When asked if he’s been itching to tell some Trump jokes, Leno quipped, “It’s interesting watching this whole thing unfold. I mean, I think he and Jeb Bush are the frontrunners. It’s kind of like the race between the tortoise and the bad hair.”


Sarah Rodman can be reached at srodman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeRodman.