The Michael J. Fox Show premieres this fall on Thursday, September 26, in back-to-back half-hour episodes. Mike Henry (Michael J. Fox, Spin City, Family Ties), one of New York’s most beloved news anchors, has 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 it’s five years later, and the kids are busy growing up and Mike is growing restless. It just might be time for him to get back to work.
Having never wanted Mike to leave in the first place, his old boss Harris Green (Wendell Pierce, “Treme,” “The Wire”) jumps at the chance to get him back on TV. The trick, as it’s always been, is to make Mike think it was his idea. After several failed attempts, Mike’s family, anxious to see him out of the house, finally succeed 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 pilot of the Michael J. Fox show, we see the actor at the dinner table, struggling with his Parkinson’s Disease — which is the subject of jokes in the series — and trying to control his shaky hands to serve food.
His TV wife is played by Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad). She impatiently takes away the serving spoon, as the family wants to eat.
Michael J. Fox incorporates details from his real life into his new NBC sitcom, which will air Thursdays in September on Global. The Michael J. Fox Showis the Canadian star’s highly anticipated return to television. Fox might find it difficult walking on the razor’s edge between humor and impropriety about his disease, though Fox has come to terms with his Parkinson’s Disease.
Fox at the Television Critics Association conference said:
If someone wants to be outraged they can be outraged. It’s really just the way I look at life and the reality of Parkinson’s. Sometimes it’s frustrating. Sometimes it’s funny. We all have our bag of hammers. We all have our own Parkinson’s.”
After a dismal season which has seen them in last place among the major networks, NBC, which used to own Thursday nights, badly needs a hit, and they’re counting on The Michael J. Fox Show to provide them with that hit.
But he insists his Parkinson’s Disease and that his character comes back after having been away from TV fro five years is just the show depicting real life.
There’s nothing horrifying about it to me,” he says. “I don’t think it’s gothic nastiness. There’s nothing horrible on the surface about someone with a shaky hand.”
The show won’t spend too much time on it in future episodes, though:
It’s always going to be there, but it’s not going to be the spotlight.”
The Michael J. Fox Show is about Henry and how he deals with work and family. It is, in that respect, not much different from what Fox, who has three children with onetime Family Ties actress Tracey Pollan, goes through on a daily basis at home.
The kids are happy I’m going back to work. Although there is kind of a scrutiny of their stuff that wouldn’t exist if I was doing something else. They will recognize things that are in the show.”
Betsy Brandt says she was fortunate to be able to move from a critically acclaimed series such as Breaking Bad to playing Michael’s wife on The Michael J. Fox Show:
I would have shanked all the other actors to get this role. I would have. I did not.”
Six episodes of the new series have already been shot. Mike’s nemesis is played by Anne Heche.
Fox has lately guest-starred on Rescue Me and The Good Wife. He says he feels healthy and medication has helped him improve:
Sometimes I complain. But I’m 52 years old. Tracy reminds me that it’s age, it’s not Parkinson’s.”
Despite the disease, Fox says he’s fortunate to be where he is, after moving to California as an unemployed actor in 1979 and having to sell his guitar to survive.
According to Michael J. Fox:
This is what I am built and programmed to do.”
Besides Michael J. Fox and Betsy Brandt (“Breaking Bad”), the show also stars Conor Romero (“American Gangster”), Juliette Goglia (“Easy A”), Jack Gore and Katie Finneran (“I Hate My Teenage Daughter”).
Fox also serves as executive producer on the new comedy from executive producer/writer Sam Laybourne (“Cougar Town”) and executive producer/director Will Gluck (“Easy A,” “Friends with Benefits”).
“The Michael J. Fox Show” is produced by Sony Pictures Television and Olive Bridge Entertainment.
Written by: Douglas Cobb