Michael J. Fox, the former star of ABC’s comedy hit “Spin City,” makes an emotional return to the network as the acclaimed television and movie star investigates the nature of optimism. In 1998 Fox publicly revealed that he had been diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease and, two years later, made the difficult decision to walk away from a highly successful acting career with credits including the top-rated NBC comedy series “Family Ties” and the blockbuster “Back to the Future” movies. His triumphant spirit and positive attitude, considering his daily fight against the symptoms of a complex and incurable neurological syndrome, may make you wonder: How does he remain an “incurable optimist”?
Fox travels across the globe to explore the enduring strength of hope. He talks to both famous and everyday people, venturing everywhere from the Far East to President Barack Obama’s inspiring inauguration – all for a one-hour special, “Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist,” airing THURSDAY, MAY 7 (10:02-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
The whole world, shaken by economic woes, is taking a closer look at optimism. Imagine a country which measures its success with a figure for “Gross National Happiness” instead of Gross National Product. Fox visits the secluded Himalayan nation of Bhutan, a modern day Shangri La that stresses the importance of joy in everything it does. Can happiness actually be legislated? Fox is fascinated by this nation’s commitment to the positive well-being of its citizens.
“The same joyous spark that Michael J. Fox shared with us during his acting career shines through in this compelling look at the transformational power of optimism,” said Victoria Dummer, co-head and senior vice president, Alternative Series, Specials and Late Night, ABC Entertainment Group.
During this entertaining and inspiring hour, Fox also meets doctors and scientists who share lively insight on the cutting edge science that’s helping us better understand the nature of optimism in all of us. He introduces viewers to a variety of people who haven’t let difficulties stand in the way of their happiness. Even Fox himself says the past 10 years, dealing with Parkinson’s and setting up The Michael J. Fox Foundation, have become among his happiest and his best.
“For everything this disease has taken, something with greater value has been given,” Fox says, “So, sure, it may be one step forward and two steps back, but after a time with Parkinson’s, I’ve learned that what is important is making that one step count.”
Fox is still an actor, but his personal and professional focus has now shifted to Parkinson’s disease. He’s revolutionized research in the field with The Michael J. Fox Foundation, the world’s largest non-profit funder of Parkinson’s research.
He is also a best-selling author. His first book, “Lucky Man,” was published in 2002. A new memoir of the last eight years, “Always Looking Up,” is out on March 31. Both books are from Hyperion.
Michael J. Fox, Nelle Fortenberry and Rudy Bednar are executive producers of “Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist,” a collaboration between Northern Fox Productions and Lincoln Square Productions.