News

New Michael J. Fox show highlights humor in Parkinson’s fight

New Michael J. Fox show highlights humor in Parkinson’s fight

Executive producer and cast member Michael J. Fox participates in a panel for "The Michael J. Fox Show" during the NBC sessions at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California July 27, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Phil McCarten

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Actor Michael J. Fox said he aimed to bring laughs and a dose of reality about day-to-day living with Parkinson’s disease to a new NBC comedy loosely based on his life, his first lead role in a television show in 13 years.

In the upcoming “The Michael J. Fox Show,” the actor 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.”

The show, which debuts September 26, is a high-profile bet by Comcast-owned NBC to lift its prime-time ratings. For the TV season that ended in May, NBC finished last in total viewers and third among the four big broadcasters in the advertiser-prized 18- to 49-year-old range, according to Nielsen.

The Canadian-born 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.

He later starred in the ABC political comedy “Spin City,” but semi-retired from acting in 2000 as his Parkinson’s symptoms worsened and he focused his efforts on research for a cure.

Fox said guest roles on shows like “The Good Wife” made him want to do more. He 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.

“It’s what I’ve loved to do,” he said. “I thought: ‘Why can’t I? There’s no reason not to do it.'”

Parkinson’s will figure less prominently in later episodes, Fox said. His real-life wife and “Family Ties” co-star, Tracy Pollan, will make an appearance. His wife on the show is played by “Breaking Bad” actress Betsy Brandt.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will also guest star, playing himself in one episode.

Fox said his real-life 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.

Recent Headlines

in Local

HIV Testing Encouraged

Medical Stethoscope

State officials says HIV/AIDS is still a big problem in Minnesota and are urging people to get tested

in Local

Fatality Accidents Common On 4th Of July Weekend

accident

The upcoming holiday weekend is typically one of the most dangerous times of the year for traffic crashes involving alcohol in Iowa.

in Local

Branstad Committed To Closing Facilities

Terry Branstad 101113

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has until July 6th to make final decisions on the entire state budget outline legislators sent him earlier this month, but Branstad's giving strong hints he'll reject the legislature's plan to keep the Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant open.

in Local

NEA To Meet In Florida

education 3

More than 8,000 delegates from across the country are in Orlando, Florida this week for the annual delegate assembly of the National Education Association.

in Local

City Working Through Budget Process

Ykn City Commission seal 92313

The Yankton City Commission is working through the budget process for 2016.