Parkinson’s be damned! Michael J. Fox loves doing his new show

 

Michael J. Fox and Tracey Pollen (photo credit NBC)

Michael J. Fox and Tracey Pollen (photo credit NBC)

 Michael J. Fox plays a beloved TV personality who has Parkinson’s disease on his new NBC comedy. The show reflects the realities in the actor’s own life. He does shake and wobble occasionally when he plays out a scene, but Fox insists his Parkinson’s will just be part of his life as he deals with many humorous situations that happen to everyone.

 After viewing the first batch of episodes of The Michael J. Fox Show, it seems that the sitcom is shaping up to be more of a family show, although it does have Fox in the work place. And there’s a great supporting cast that includes Betsy Brandt as his wife, Wendell Pierce as his boss and best friend, Juliette Goglia, Conor Romero and Jack Gore as his kids, and Katie Finneran as his meddlesome sister.

 The show has him playing Mike Henry, an ultra-likable news anchor in New York, who puts his career on hold to spend more time with his family when he’s diagnosed with Parkinson’s. But after too much “family time” it’s time for Mike to get back to work—just like Fox.

 Fox took an interesting journey to return to the sitcom world that launched his career with Family Ties in 1982. On that classic show he won three Emmys for his role as the ultra-conservative kid Alex Keaton. As Marty McFly he starred in the Back to the Future film trilogy. He also did the sitcom Spin City, but retired from it after he announced he had Parkinson’s in 2000. Afterwards he did some guest starring roles, most notably in the dramas Boston Legal, Rescue Me, and The Good Wife. It was after he did multiple episodes of The Good Wife that Fox determined he had the stamina to return to series television.

 This fall after filming several episodes Fox reports he’s comfortable with his schedule every day. “And I’m really happy with how it feels to be back at work.” His wife Tracy Pollan (who has guest-starred on the show) and his real life kids are also glad he’s out of the house and back at work. “My kids, they’re happy that I’m going back to work, from a pure sense of being happy for me, but I think also there’s a kind of a scrutiny of their stuff that won’t exist if I’m occupied doing something else. So they’re cool with it.”

 When asked what he liked about the time off he’s had over the past years, Fox reveals, “Hanging out with my family and driving them nuts in a similar way to Mike Henry on the show. My kids were the focus of my attention during their formative years, and it was beautiful. It was so great. Um, for them, it may have been a different experience,” he jokes.

 Sometimes the 52-year-old actor admits he gets tired, “but I say to Tracy all the time, that’s not the Parkinson’s, that’s just being old. So I do pace myself a little differently. I enjoy getting the scripts that have been fantastic, and the cast is such a joy to work with, because they’ve really captured this unique perspective of this family.”

 After doing a couple of guest spots on various shows, Fox realized he was able to continue his acting journey. “It brought me to a place of ‘this is what I want to do. This is what I was programmed to do and I wanted to do it. It’s what I loved to do, and why not? There’s no reason not to do it.” Parkinson’s be damned! #


Frank Barron is the former editor of The Hollywood Reporter, having served twice in that capacity. In between, he was West Coast news director for Billboard Publications, supervising their five magazines. Barron also created the western TV series “The Man From Blackhawk” for the ABC network. For more than two decades he and writer-wife Margie Barron have covered Hollywood for Production Update magazine, and they currently contribute to numerous publications. Frank started in showbiz as publicity director for the KHJ radio and television station. Before moving to California, he was a sports editor in New Jersey.

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