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

"The Michael J. Fox Show" is loosely based on the actor's life.  Credit: Reuters
“The Michael J. Fox Show” is loosely based on the actor’s life.
Credit: 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 Sept. 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.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Is #JusticeForAvaLynn a case of bullying?

On Saturday, the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn became one of the trending topics on Twitter. Users circulated the above photo of 5-year-old AvaLynn, posted by her mother…

International

Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…

National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…