Michael J. Fox is Back: Parkinson’s Shakes Him But Can’t Stop Him [Update]

Airing September 26 on NBC

From Parkinson's and Back to RealityMichael J. Fox is back with his own show. Fox returns to NBC in a new comedy from writer and executive producer Sam Laybourne and executive producer Will Gluck. From the sound of things, Fox still has “it”; he may not have been on camera in awhile but he hasn’t lost his comedic edge. Fox won over audiences in the 1980s for his role as conservative Alex P. Keaton on NBC sitcom “Family Ties,” and as teen adventurer Marty McFly in the “Back to the Future” movies.

Fox, born Michael Andrew Fox, is a Canadian American actor, author, producer and activist. Fox has a film and television career spanning as far back as the late 1970s. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991, and disclosed his condition to the public in 1999. He has since become an activist for research towards finding a cure. This led him to create the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

Fox semi-retired from acting in 2000 as the symptoms of his disease became more severe and has mainly worked as a voice-over actor. In his first book, ‘Lucky Man,’ he focused on how, after seven years of denial of the disease, he set up the Michael J Fox Foundation, stopped drinking and began to be an advocate for Parkinson’s disease sufferers. As his experience with the disease continued to progress, Fox put his career on hold to spend more time with his family and focus on his health after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. But now five years later, with the kids busy growing up and Mike growing restless, it just might be time for him to get back to work.

Fox’s old boss, Harris Green, never wanted Mike to leave TV so he jumped at the chance to get him back on the tube. The trick, as it’s always been, was to make Mike think it was his idea. After several – okay, many – failed attempts, Mike’s family, anxious to see him out of the house, finally succeeded in getting him to “run into” Green. Now their plan is in motion. He’ll be back to juggling home, family and career, just like the old days – only better.

In the upcoming “The Michael J. Fox Show,” Fox plays a father with Parkinson’s who returns to work as a local newscaster on an NBC TV station in New York. To his surprise, his fictional family reacts with relief that he will be getting out of the house.

The show draws from Fox’s own experience to generate laughs and give viewers a sense of everyday life with Parkinson’s, a nerve disorder that causes tremors. In one scene, gun-toting police show up at his character’s home after his shaky hands accidentally dial 911.

“The reality of Parkinson’s is that sometimes it’s frustrating, sometimes it’s funny,” Fox, 52, said on Saturday at the semi-annual Television Critics Association press tour. The show will not veer into dark humor, he said, because he did not see his disease that way. “There’s nothing horrible on the surface about someone with shaky hands,” he said. “There’s nothing horrible about someone in their life saying, ‘God, I’m really tired of this shaky hand thing’ and me saying, ‘Me, too.’ That’s our reality.”

Fox said guest roles on shows like “The Good Wife” made him want to do more. “It’s what I’ve loved to do,” he said. “I thought: ‘Why can’t I? There’s no reason not to do it.'” Fox said medications helped control his symptoms and he felt ready to commit to a lead role. NBC has already ordered 22 episodes of the new show.

Fox said his family supported his return to a regular series role. “There is a kind of scrutiny of their stuff that won’t exist if I’m occupied doing something else,” he joked.

This will be his first lead role in a television show in 13 years. Fox said he paces himself differently these days than he did in his “Family Ties” or Spin City” days. His wife always encourages him telling him that that because of his age and not the disease. Fox at the ripe age of 52 says, “In general I feel good; this is what I was born and bred to do”.

Fox said in this comedy, which is loosely based on his life, he aims to bring laughs and a dose of reality about day-to-day living with Parkinson’s disease. Get ready to laugh and learn; The Michael J. Fox show will debut on September 26 on NBC.

UPDATE:

The Michael J. Fox show premieres on September 26 for one hour starting at  9p.m. on NBC.   Beginning October 3, it will continue in its permanent half-hour time period starting at  9:30p.m.

 

 

By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)

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