Thursday, March 12, 2009
Michael J. Fox: Every Reason To Be A Pessimist
I’m about halfway through the memoir LUCKY MAN by Michael J. Fox. It’s a slow process, only because it’s a paper book and I don’t have much time for reading other than after dark. The book was a gift, had I bought it myself I would have opted for an ebook version to read on my pocket PC in bed.
Michael is an alarmingly good writer. Articulate, astute, engaging. Had he not gone into show business, he likely could have written many bestsellers. He talks candidly and unashamedly about his bad times and good times, times of excess and poor judgment. The book is leading up to, and recounting the times before, his now well-known diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. Since I am a natural Hollywood groupie, I find the stories of his rise to stardom compelling, but not much moreso than the anecdotes about his early years and his family. Most disarming is his continued optimism in the face of adversity.
There is a thread of self-analysis that runs through the book, as if Michael is attempting to explain his life not only to his readers but to himself. His respect for, and devotion to, his wife Tracy (Pollan) is heartwarming. They actually met on the set of Family Ties, where Tracy was playing a possible love interest for Ties’ Alex Keaton. It didn’t work out for Alex, but at some point Michael and Tracy became a couple and the rest is history, as they say. (Photo by Alan Light.)
Part of that history is that in 1991, Michael was given the devastating news about his condition. He continued to work, bowing out from his then-series Spin City in 2001. From the time of his diagnosis to date, he made 18 films, and his lifetime achievements include four Emmy awards, four Golden Globes, two Screen Actors Guild awards, two Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice awards and one People’s Choice award. He’s done numerous TV guest spots, and has an upcoming role in Rescue Me (FX Network).
In 2000, Michael launched the non-profit Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, where he spends much of his time and resources today. The Foundation has funded nearly $140 million in research toward better Parkinson’s treatment. In addition, Michael has been a strong advocate for legislation supporting stem-cell research.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Michael will return to television with Michael J Fox: Adventures of An Incurable Optimist, airing May 7 on ABC. The special will examine the power of positive thinking, and, as noted on the Foundation’s website, “Fox explores science and his own personal experiences -- he says the past decade, since his diagnosis with Parkinson's disease, has been among his happiest. As part of the special, Fox visits the Himalayan nation of Bhutan, which he says is unusually committed to the well-being of its citizens.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m happy to see Michael back on the tube, and am looking forward to his personal brand of optimism. If he can be optimistic, considering all he’s been through, why can’t we?