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TCAs: The return of Michael J. Fox
Michael J. Fox, the boldest-faced name at the 2013 Television Critics Association Tour, this morning took to the stage at the Hilton's International Ballroom to talk about life, liberty and the pursuit of another TV series.
But first things first: How did he look and sound?
Politically incorrect questions perhaps in the context of someone who had strugggled with Parkinson's disease for 22 years, but relevant in this context, as he embarks on an all-consuming grind that is tough on a 25-year, much less a 52-year-old....
He looks great. Fox is Fox — apparently forever young and forever fully engaged, whether in dealling with a question about why he's joining the rat race again, or battling a life altering illness and helping others so affflicted in the process.
Here are some outtakes from this morning..... all quotes courtesy of the spectacular transcription team here at TCA:...
Does he think some in "the Parkinson's community" will be offput by jokes about Parkinson's — his new sitcom is about a New York anchor who returns to his job after a long illness-forced absence:
MICHAEL J. FOX: No, I didn’t. I don’t vet creative instinct, I just go with it. I feel that this is a reflection of my experience and certainly in the pilot it was more prevalent than it is in the scripts. The way I look at life, the way I look at the reality of Parkinson’s, that sometimes it’s frustrating and sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s just — and I need to look at it that way, and I think other people will look at it that way. But beyond that, I think we all get our own bag of hammers, we all get our own Parkinson’s. We all get our own thing. I think that we’ll look at that through the filter. We’ll look at this through the filter of that experience, and we’ll say, “Yeah, I need to laugh at my stuff, too.” And I don’t — I don’t anticipate — I mean, if someone wants to be outraged, they can be outraged. I don’t think it’s that outrageous.
How does his real family feel about being re-purposed, so to speak, in the new show?
Well, the names have been changed to protect the innocent. It’s all — it’s denied. There’s a deniability level, but they’ll recognize things that — my experience with them that are reflected in the show, and they’ll realize that there’s some things that — there’s a germ of something in our relationship that I’m taking a run with, and that in germination of it, it’s moved away from their experience. So, I mean, they’re cool with it.
Any chance he might re-make "Back to the Future?"
I would have to play Doc Brown [Christopher Lloyd's classic, bumbling, eccentric character]. Yeah, I know, to answer your question. I don’t know. I mean, I’m going to knock this off first. But when I was talking to Will [Gluck, an executive producer], one thing that I’m feeling in doing this show, we’ve done six episodes now, is that I knew one of two things was going to happen. I was either going to atrophy, as I went on through the year, or rebuild the muscles, and I’m planning on rebuilding the muscles. I’m getting more comfortable with this schedule every day, and every week, and really happy with how it feels to be back at work. A movie, I don’t know. I mean, I’d have to take it as it comes. But I can’t imagine doing 22 episodes of this and then spending my summer doing like I did in ’87, doing “Light of Day” and “Secret of My Success,” and then going back to work. I mean, it’s crazy, and that’s how I got into this mess.
"Can you talk a little bit about walking that fine line between dealing with the humor of a bad situation and not going too far into the realm of shock."
Well, I don’t think — I don’t think we’ve ran into shock. I think that the one thing that this show plays on, at least when it deals with Parkinson’s, is — and, again, it becomes absorbed as the normal course of the family’s life, as it has with mine. But it’s about perception. A lot of times when you have a disability, one of the things you deal with is other people’s projections of what your experience is, and people projecting on what they think it is, and their fear about it, and not seeing the experience you’re having. And so I think there’s nothing like Parkinson’s itself, there’s nothing horrifying about it to me. It is what I deal with. It is my reality and my life, but it’s not horrible. I don’t think it’s Gothic nastiness. There’s nothing on the surface horrible about someone with a shaky hand. 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. We have no control.
Why come back?
Yeah, I mean, the guest shots [on many shows, like "Rescue Me" and "The Good Wife" and "Boston Legal"] were great, and it really brought me to a place of this is what I do, this is what I was built and programmed to do. And so I wanted to do it. I mean, it’s what I love to do, and what I’ve enjoyed throughout my life, and I just thought why can’t I. I mean, there’s no reason not to do it. And in terms of what happened over that hiatus that I took with respect to the guest shots, I just rested. I spent that time with my family during their really formative years and enjoyed that, and I kind of messed with pills and new medications that help me more to deal with dyskinesia and some other things I was struggling with earlier that I don’t have as much now because of medication to counter the side effects. So it just seemed like the right time to do it.