Michael J. Fox's return to series TV will have him playing a newscaster, according to NBC entertainment president Jennifer Salke, who told TV critics Sunday that the sitcom, "completely inspired by his life" as a husband and father who is grappling with Parkinson's, is still on track for next fall.
In the show, Fox's character has had to step down from his job in TV news to devote his time to fighting the disease, just as the actor dialed back his career at one point.
Now, with the benefit of the same new drug treatment that's allowed Fox to function a little more the way he wants to, Salke said, the character will be returning to work.
But much of the comedy will be family-based, she indicated and rooted in the real-life interactions of the actor, his wife, Tracy Pollan, and their children.
"People have kind of deified [Fox]," Salke said, putting him on a pedestal because of his condition. "And his family has a lot of fun with that."
Other notes from the Television Critics Association's winter meetings, now under way in Pasadena, Calif.:
-- Don't look to NBC to put a muzzle on "Celebrity Apprentice" blowhard Donald Trump anytime soon.
"We talked him out of running for president. Isn't that enough?" quipped NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt.
-- Working on NBC's "Revolution" inspired actor Giancarlo Esposito to encourage his kids to put down their tech devices during a recent vacation so the family could spend time together talking. No word on what kind of ideas he got from playing the terrifying Gus Fring on AMC's "Breaking Bad."
Though he did say that fans approach him and say, "'You're so bad. But you look so nice,'" said Esposito (who in real life, smiles a lot).
-- "Revolution," by the way, won't return until March 25, when it will pick up exactly where it left off, says executive producer Eric Kripke, who sees it as a family show. "It's 'The Waltons' with swords."
-- Ellen Gray