Family Ties (TV Series 1982–1989) Poster



Michael J. Fox added the P. in Alex P. Keaton as an ad-lib in his audition, the writers loved it and kept it. Michael J. Fox almost didn't get the role of Alex - due to the fact that NBC exec Brandon Tartikoff didn't find it believable that Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross would have a son that was so short.
Ed O'Neill was considered for the role of Steven Keaton.
The show was modeled after producer Gary David Goldberg and wife Diane's real-life experiences as former 'hippies' transforming into suburban family life.
One year before playing Michael J. Fox's father in Back to the Future (1985), Crispin Glover played Alex P. Keaton's friend in the episode Birthday Boy.
The cast wanted to end the show with the entire Keaton family dying in a plane crash. They absolutely didn't want to do a reunion show in the future.
Throughout the series' run, exterior establishment shots of the Keaton home were never used in any of the episodes, which is very unusual for a family sitcom. The vast majority of all scenes were played out in the kitchen.
The name 'Mallory' translates to (depending on who you ask) as either 'failure, unlucky, or ill-omened' which is totally fitting with the character.
Mallory's boyfriend Nick was only intended to be a "One Shot" character. Scott Valentine made a strong impression on both the show's audience and producers resulting in Nick becoming a recurring character on the series. Nick proved to be so popular that Producers tried to spin him off into his own series, though the pilot never sold.
Stars Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter share the same birthday: 21 June 1947. Gross was born in Chicago and Baxter was born in L.A.
The producers originally wanted Matthew Broderick to play Alex P. Keaton, but the actor had to decline the role when his father became terminally ill. Ironically, Broderick's father James Broderick played Meredith Baxter's father on the drama Family (1976).
The black Labrador that appeared after the closing credits with the voice over 'Sit Ubu, sit' was producer Gary David Goldberg's dog, Ubu.
According to Michael J. Fox's last Spin City (1996) episode, Alex P. Keaton became a Junior Congressman from Ohio.
When Meredith Baxter became pregnant during the hiatus between the second and third seasons, her pregnancy was written into the show. However, she still was written out of several episodes after giving birth to twins in real life.
Skippy was adopted as a baby by his parents.
Michael J. Fox's first audition was deemed terrible by 'Gary Goldberg' because Fox came off too smart-aleck. Casting director 'Judith Wiener' really liked Fox and begged Goldberg to see him a second time. Fox took a different approach, the audition went great, and Fox was offered the part.
In one of his autobiographies, Michael J. Fox said that for at least ten years after his marriage to Tracy Pollan, the two couldn't get on a dance floor anywhere in the country without someone starting to play the 1981 song "At This Moment" by Billy Vera & The Beaters because of its strong association with the romance storyline between Fox's and Pollan's characters Alex and Ellen.
Gary David Goldberg named the family Keaton after Actress Diane Keaton.
The series was intended to be a starring vehicle for Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross. As a result, the show's initial focus was more on the parents, with the kids more as background characters. The kids, Alex in particular, quickly came to gain a more equal, and eventually greater focus as Michael J. Fox established himself as the series break out star.
The show was a long-time staple of NBC's "Must See TV" Thursday night lineup. After season 5, the show moved from Thursday night following "The Cosby Show" to Saturday night. The show dropped from second place in the ratings to #17 due to move. The ratings declined even further in season 7 and the show was canceled.
Michael Gross once stated in an interview that he didn't feel that Steven Keaton had much dimension or depth until the character of Nick was added. He cited this addition as a major reason for staying on the show,
US President Ronald Reagan declared Family Ties (1982) his favorite TV show during the 1980s.
Series was set in Columbus, Ohio, USA.
Tom Hanks played Elise Keaton's brother Ned.
Alex was born in Africa when Elyse and Steven were serving in the Peace Corps.
In March 2008, creator Gary David Goldberg wrote an essay for The New York Times speculating about what Alex Keaton's political beliefs would be now. Goldberg said that Keaton, as a "true Conservative Republican," would probably no longer feel comfortable in the Republican Party of the late 2000s, "a party whose legacy will include Terri Schiavo and Hurricane Katrina, [and]...waging war against science." Goldberg said that Keaton would have supported McCain in 2000 but no obvious candidate in the 2008 race. He also said that he and Michael J. Fox have different ideas about Keaton's current career; Goldberg thinks Keaton is a pro bono lawyer for the Children's Defense Fund, while Fox believes Keaton is finishing a prison sentence.
Tracy Pollan, who played Alex Keaton's girlfriend Ellen, later married Michael J. Fox in real life.
An episode set to air shortly before the 1988 Presidential Election was to have featured a scene showing Alex's bedroom full of George Bush campaign posters and related items. The scene was dropped as NBC felt it could be viewed as overtly political and potentially violated Equal Time laws. Instead a scene was shown after the election where Alex hung up and admired a poster of Bush in the living room to celebrate his victory.
Alex and Ellen's Love Theme was At This Moment by Billy Vera and The Beaters. The song was originally recorded and released in 1981 and went largely unnoticed. After being featured on the series, the single was re-released in the Fall of 1986, and reached Number One on the Billboard Top 100 Pop Chart in early 1987.
The political themes were heavily emphasized in early seasons of the series. However, as the show progressed and the focus moved on Alex and the children, the political themes were downplayed or used in a more light hearted manner in later seasons.
Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross are only 14 years older than Michael J. Fox.
In the show, Meredith Baxter Birney and Michael Gross play extreme liberal activists who show annoyance towards their son Alex's love of Richard Nixon. However in All the President's Men (1976), Birney plays the wife of a Richard Nixon employee.
Alex's hero is Richard Nixon. Skippy (the perpetual Alex wanna-be) admired Gerald Ford.
Elyse's maiden name was Donelly.
Alex attended Leland University.
Alex, Mallory and Skippy attended Harding High School. Jennifer went to Randolph elementary.
The character 'Steven Keaton' was ranked #12 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" (20 June 2004 issue).
Steven Keaton was from Buffalo, New York.
Mallory and Skippy attended Grant Junior College.
Michael Gross made a crossover appearance as Steven Keaton on the short lived NBC Sitcom Day by Day (1988), which like Family Ties was created and produced by Gary David Goldberg.
At least two different pilots for a potential spin off series featuring Nick were produced and aired, though neither was picked up by NBC.
Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross are only 11 years older than Scott Valentine.
Jennifer was born on Election Day 1972.
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The name of the public television station that Stephen Worked for was WKS.
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Columbus, Ohio was selected as the setting of the series as that section of the country is viewed as being 'Middle America'.
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Meredith Baxter at times was rumored to have wanted to leave the series. This was said to be due over tensions between her and Michael J Fox, as Fox had largely usurped the show's intended focus away from Baxter and Michael Gross. Baxter and Fox have indicated that there was nothing to the reports over any feuds or tension between them.
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