Michael J. Fox doesn't shy away from Parkinson's in NBC comedy - WFLA News Channel 8

Michael J. Fox doesn't shy away from Parkinson's in NBC comedy

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"The Michael J. Fox" cast, from left, Ana Nogueira, Juliette Goglia, Betsy Brandt, Michael J. Fox, Jack Gore, Conor Romero, Wendell Pierce and Katie Finneran. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) "The Michael J. Fox" cast, from left, Ana Nogueira, Juliette Goglia, Betsy Brandt, Michael J. Fox, Jack Gore, Conor Romero, Wendell Pierce and Katie Finneran. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK -

Michael J. Fox returns to television in a lead role tonight for the first time since leaving "Spin City" in 2001.

In 1998, Fox went public with his Parkinson's disease diagnosis and quickly became a strong advocate of Parkinson's disease research. His battle with the disease led him to the decision to quit the highly popular "Spin City" series to spend "time and energy ... with my family and working towards a cure for Parkinson's Disease."

While Fox has made a number of cameos appearances since his retirement, Thursday night marks the first time that Fox has taken on a lead role in a series.

The eponymous show, which airs on NBC, sees Fox playing a news anchor who gave up his gig after being diagnosed with Parkinson's. But after 5 years off the desk, Fox decides it's time to return to work.

While the situations of the show are fictionalized, the subject matter is very real. His wife, actress Tracey Pollan, acknowledged that some of the show's topics hit close to home.

"I knew that he wanted to have more of an outlet for his creativity, let's put it that way," Pollan said of Fox's desire to return to work.

Fox said he was attracted to creator Will Gluck's vision of the show because the character's experiences very much mirrored his own.

"The storyline came about after my conversations with [show creator] Will Gluck about my books," Fox explained recently in an interview with WNCN's Melanie Sanders. "I thought people have been so accepting and empathetic and sympathetic to my challenges.

"[I wanted to] work that into a storyline that we all have challenges."

Rather than ignoring the disease, Fox's tremors are played up in the series in a comedic manner. Fox said the approach is "the way I look at life."

"Sometimes I get pissed off and frustrated. But most times I find a reason to be grateful for it," Fox explained.

Fox's TV wife, Betsy Brandt, said his humor about Parkinson's makes the show work and calls it "genius."

"Mike is so comfortable and easy," Brandt said.

"The Michael J. Fox Show" premieres Thursday at 9 p.m. (EST) on NBC.

Melanie Sanders

Melanie anchors the 6 PM news. Her "What's Next" series features an engaging approach to storytelling and highlights the leaders in innovation who are shaping our future. Check it out HERE! More>>

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