UPDATED: In a competitive situation, Michael J. Fox’s new family comedy project has landed at the same network that aired the family comedy which made him a household name 30 years ago, Family Ties. NBC nabbed the untitled single-camera comedy co-created by Sam Laybourne (Cougar Town) and Will Gluck with an 22-episode series order for fall 2013 premiere. The setup for the Sony TV-produced comedy, loosely based on Fox’s real life, has him play a husband and father of three in New York City dealing with family, career, and challenges – including Parkinson’s Disease. (Fox, himself a father of four, has Parkinson’s and lives with his family in New York where the series will be filmed.) The pitch went to all four major broadcast networks last week, with ABC, NBC and CBS in hot pursuit. NBC outbid the other networks by offering an on-air full-season episodic pickup that the TV business had not seen in years. (NBC also agreed to shoot the series in Fox’s native New York, which is extremely rare for a comedy series. The only other half-hour series filmed in New York is NBC’s departing 30 Rock.) “From the moment we met with Michael to hear his unique point of view about this new show, we were completely captivated and on board,” NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt said. “He is utterly relatable, optimistic, and in a class by himself, and I have no doubt that the character he will create – and the vivid family characters surrounding him – will be both instantly recognizable and hilarious.”
Gluck is set to direct the pilot for the series, which will be written by Laybourne. The two will executive produce, with Richard Schwartz of Gluck’s Sony TV-based Olive Bridge Entertainment co-exec producing. Filming is slated to begin later this year.
Fox first flirted with returning to TV comedy full-time last development season when he had conversations with ABC Studios but the project never materialized. The idea of a new Michael J. Fox comedy series picked up steam when the actor met with Gluck. The two hit it off, and Gluck introduced Fox to Laybourne. Gluck and Laybourne have been close friends since Laybourne worked as a writer on Gluck’s Fox series The Loop, with the two said to share similar sensibilities. Laybourne has worked on feature projects for Gluck, including Rehab, and has signed a script deal with Sony TV for a comedy to be produced by Gluck’s Sony TV-based company. That pact led to Laybourne’s involvement in the Michael J. Fox project.
Fox left his last series starring role on ABC’s Spin City when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. His final episode on the show remains one of the most watched series telecast of the past two decades. On the comedy side, he guest starred on the most recent season of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, earning an Emmy nomination. He also is nominated for his recurring role on the CBS drama The Good Wife. His Emmy tally includes 15 nominations and 5 wins, three for Family Ties and one each for Spin City and Rescue Me. (Photo: Mark Seliger)