Fox aims to out­fox disease

New show high­lights the hu­mour in ac­tor Michael J Fox’s daily fight with Parkin­son’s, writes Lisa Rich­wine

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODPOSTER -

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 his new com­edy loosely based on his life, his first lead role in a tele­vi­sion show in 13 years.

In The Michael J Fox Show, the ac­tor plays Mike Henry, a fa­ther with Parkin­son’s who re­turns to work as a lo­cal news­caster on an NBC TV sta­tion in New York.

Mike used to be one of New York’s favourite an­chors, but he gave up the spot­light af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with Parkin­son’s.

Now, years later, Mike is ready to get back in the game. To his sur­prise, his fic­tional fam­ily re­acts with relief that he will be get­ting out of the house.

The show draws on 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.

The show will not veer into dark hu­mour, he said, be­cause he didn’t 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 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 had helped con­trol his symp­toms and he felt that he was now 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.

And Bri­tish singer-song­writer St­ing will make a cameo ap­pear- ance in an episode.

Fox will be go­ing back to the fu­ture on another episode when Christo­pher Lloyd, who played Dr Em­mett Brown op­po­site Fox’s char­ac­ter in Back to the Fu­ture and its two se­quels, will guest star in an episode next spring.

This time, Lloyd will ap­pear as the prin­ci­pal of the high school where An­nie Henry is em­ployed.

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. – Reuters

● Catch The Michael J Fox Show which pre­mieres on M-Net , Wed­nes­day at 6pm.

Michael J Fox Show: The

KEEP­ING IT REAL: The cast of

pic­tured left, Conor Romero as Ian Henry, Juli­ette Goglia as Eve Henry, Betsy Brandt as An­nie Henry, Michael J Fox as Mike Henry, Jack Gore as Gra­ham Henry, Katie Fin­neran as Leigh Henry.

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