Nellie Andreeva

Thirty years after the premiere of Family Ties, Michael J. Fox is returning to the family comedy genre, this time as the dad. Fox is attached to star in a single-camera comedy project from writer Sam Laybourne (Cougar Town) and producer Will Gluck, which is garnering strong interest from multiple networks. I hear the setup for the Sony TV-produced project, inspired by Fox’s real life, has him play a dad who has an illness. (Fox, himself a father of four, has Parkinson’s.) The pitch, first reported by Vulture, has gone out to all four major broadcast networks, with ABC, NBC and CBS in hot pursuit.

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.

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