The upcoming Home Improvement cameo in Fox's Last Man Standing took a lot of work for showrunner Kevin Abbott and crew. It was recently announced that Tim Allen is reprising his iconic Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor for the final season of his current sitcom, which had fans very excited. A teaser for the episode finds Allen's Mike Baxter speaking with Taylor, who is trying to provide some help for Baxter's Outdoor Man 10th Anniversary.
As it turns out, Kevin Abbott and the Last Man Standing crew were already well into writing the upcoming final season when the network came forward asking about a big "promotable event." According to Abbott, the idea wasn't exactly met with positivity due to how hard it is to come up with something big on such short notice. "And so as I was bitching and moaning about it, my writers were actually thinking about it," recalls Abbott. Jon Haller was the one who came up with the cameo idea. According to Abbott, Haller said, "'You know, we've had almost all the names from Home Improvement on the show and the one we really haven't had is Tim Taylor.' And I went, 'That is just brilliant. That is brilliant.'"
While it took some thinking, the Last Man Standing crew finally had their "promotable moment" for the network. First, they had to convince Tim Allen about the idea. As it turns out, Allen was into it, but he was very particular about how he wanted his Home Improvement character to appear on the show. Kevin Abbott had this to say.
"So the first hurdle you have to jump is to get Tim to sign off on it. I want to make sure that he wanted to play it - which he did, he fully embraced the idea, with the proviso that we would honor that character, not make fun of him or anything, which we would never do. I really liked Home Improvement and Matt Williams and David McFadzean and Carmen Finestra, who created Home Improvement, were really kind and generous in allowing us to use the character and certain iconic symbols from the show and bits. So we were going to bend over backward to not give them any reason to regret allowing us to do that."
After getting Tim Allen and the Home Improvement creators to go along with the Last Man Standing cameo, the crew had to approach ABC about getting the rights. "It took a while. There are bigger legal hurdles than you would think in all of that," remembers Kevin Abbott. "It was the day before the table read that I got permission to actually go forward with the episode. And that was only because I threatened, 'I'm reading it anyway.' So they finally agreed to it," Abbott says while laughing. It took a lot of work, but fans are finally going to see Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor on Last Man Standing.
Last Man Standing season 9 premieres this Sunday before moving to its normal Thursday time-slot next week. While a lot of the episodes are plotted out and filmed, the finale has yet to be finalized. Kevin Abbott says, "I do have an idea what the series finale is and I can tell you it's Mike's journey this year." However, he would not go into any further details about specifics. "I believe it's going to give the audience a sense of closure and a sense of hope," Abbott says. The interview with Kevin Abbott was originally conducted by The Wrap.