LOS ANGELES — To win a four-network bidding war to secure Michael J. Fox's return to family comedy, NBC made the exceptional decision to commit to producing and airing a full 22 episodes for the fall 2013 season.
And, according to Will Gluck, co-creator of the series with Sam Laybourne, everyone involved is already thinking beyond that initial run of episodes — even though the pilot has yet to be shot.
"Mike signed up for this to go many, many years," Gluck says from his office at Olive Bridge Entertainment on the Sony Pictures lot. "He's back to work. We're all in this for the long haul."
The currently untitled series returns the veteran sitcom actor to NBC, 30 years after the debut of Family Ties. Loosely autobiographical, Fox will play a fictional married father of three children, whose ages, Gluck says, will roughly mirror those the 51-year-old actor has with real-life wife Tracy Pollan. Fox's challenges with Parkinson's disease will figure into the show too, though no more prominently than any other aspect of his life.
"The great thing about Michael is that, sure, Parkinson's is a part of his life, but most of the stories in his life involve trying to be a husband and father of three kids, things that have their own set of problems," Gluck says. "And it's also a show reflecting his own life of going back to work."
And since Fox lives and works in New York, the new show, like Fox's last full-time program, Spin City, will be set in the Big Apple.
Though Fox ended his full-time television work with Spin City in 2002, he has remained quite active, guest starring on such series as Scrubs, Boston Legal, and Rescue Me. This year, he was nominated for two guest-actor Emmys for his work as a trickster attorney on The Good Wife and for playing himself in an episode of Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm.