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

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…