How Michael J. Fox is getting the last laugh

"It feels good to  be back," says Michael J. Fox.
“It feels good to be back,” Michael J. Fox says about his return to TV.

The results are in. Now halfway through the season, Michael J. Fox is proving early doubters wrong with the surprise success of “The Michael J. Fox Show.” When Fox decided to return to TV full-time, people were supportive, but no one was quite sure what to expect. But the show has just been picked up for worldwide syndication and boasts some big upcoming guest stars, such as Sting, who will play himself in the show’s holiday special.

The show is loosely based on Michael’s real life – he plays a family man with Parkinson’s who decides to return to work – but beyond the premise, it has its own storyline separate from the actor’s life. “The story of our first season is that after everything he’s been through, Michael J. Fox is still one of the funniest men in America,” creator Sam Laybourne tells Metro.

On the show, it’s Fox’s character Mike’s wife who pushes him to go back to work, but Fox says in real life, he pushed himself. “I was enjoying my guest appearances [on ‘The Good Wife’ and ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’] so much that I thought, ‘Why can’t I do this? What is the unwritten rule that I can’t go back to work full time?’ The more I thought about it, the more I thought, ‘Why can’t I do a show?’ I couldn’t find a reason not to,” Fox says.

“Being a guy with Parkinson’s, there’s a whole new set of tools for him,” Laybourne says. “There was this sort of fear going into it that Michael is somewhat limited. He’s not limited. He’s using different tools, which are equally if not more funny. He’s up for anything.”

The show doesn’t shy away from joking about Parkinson’s, a tactic that is meant to help the audience feel more comfortable with it as the season goes on. Laybourne explains that early in the season, viewers may have felt uncomfortable laughing at Parkinson’s jokes, but people that have stuck with the show laugh about it, just as the characters on the shows do.

“We make a lot of Parkinson’s jokes on set,” Betsy Brandt, who plays Fox’s wife on the show, tells Metro. “Michael always says, ‘Everybody’s always got their own bag of hammers.’ It’s a little shaking, it’s not the end of the world. … For everybody, there’s going to be something – maybe not a chronic disease, but something – that you struggle with.”

“My view of life is colored by humor and looking at the best in any situation,” Fox says. “One of the things I love about the show is that it gives me the opportunity to tell people who have disabilities or different challenges that they deal with that you can step back into life. You can be apart of life. You just have to allow for the facts of your situation. Instead of hiding that or being in denial about it, put it out there, and that’s what I’m doing with the show.”

Co-creator Sam Laybourne credits the show’s family-friendliness for its success. “My favorite tweet ever I’ve seen about the show is, ‘Watching with my family. We were cracking up like maniacs,’” Laybourne says. Family comedy night is back. And so is Fox.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Metro announces Earth Day New York partnership for…

Metro is pleased to announce we are once again the media partner of Earth Day New York for 2014.

International

Putin fields question from NSA fugitive Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden, the fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor who leaked details of intelligence eavesdropping, asked Russian President Vladimir Putin a question on Thursday during…

Local

Cops release sketch of Madison Avenue jewelry robbery…

Authorities continue to look for a man suspected in a $54,000 jewelry heist at a Madison Avenue store from from last week.

National

Rapper affiliate of Wu-Tang Clan 'cuts off own…

Rapper Andre Johnson, who has performed with New York outfit the Wu-Tang Clan, is in a critical condition after reportedly cutting off his own penis…

Movies

Review: 'Fading Gigolo' finds few jokes in women…

John Turturro writes, directs and stars in "Fading Gigolo," in which he plays a prostitute whose pimp is Woody Allen. And there's still very few jokes.

Music

Both feet on the ground with Aimee Mann…

What began with a cool double-bill of Ted Leo opening for Aimee Mann morphed into a full-fledged collaborative project that they're calling The Both. “There…

Entertainment

Here's what to do in New York this…

PARTY Brooklyn Book Launch: Bourbon by Dane Huckelbridge, ft. Widow Jane Distilling Tonight, 7 p.m. powerHouse Arena 37 Main St., Dumbo Free, 718-666-3049 www.powerhousearena.com The…

The Word

Lawsuit accuses 'X-Men' director Bryan Singer of raping…

A new lawsuit accuses director Bryan Singer of sexual assault against a minor.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

NBA

Nets-Raptors first round NBA playoffs schedule, TV, times

The Nets tanked their way to the No. 6 seed over the course of the final few games of the season.

NBA

Knicks wrap up season with win over Raptors

The Knicks wrapped up their season as it began — undermanned — but that still didn’t deter them from ending it the right way.

MLB

Adam Warren closes out doubleheader sweep for Yankees

Adam Warren navigated a tricky ninth inning earn the Yankees a 2-0 victory over the Cubs.

Parenting

Star-studded summer camps

Give your child the star treatment this summer with a celebrity-endorsed camp.

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…