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 and The Beaters because of its strong association with the romance storyline between Fox's and Pollan's characters Alex and Ellen.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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 (1984) 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 J. Fox was approached during the second season about starring in Back to the Future (1985). But executive producer Gary David Goldberg would not allow Fox the time off to make the film. Because of delays in the film, Fox was approached again during the third season. This time, Goldberg and the film's producers worked out a schedule that would allow Fox to work on both projects simultaneously. Mondays to Thursdays, Fox would rehearse for the series during the day and work on the film all night. On Friday nights, the series would tape their episodes. As soon taping finished, he would go to the film's set and work all weekend.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
According to the memoir Lucky Man, shortly before Fox won the role of Alex Keaton, Fox's father had written him a letter and encouraged him to "pull the curtain" on his acting career in Los Angeles given his recent struggles. Weeks later he was taking a bus to work everyday to shoot the show.
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.
All the stars of "Stand By Me" appeared on "Family Ties" as friends or classmates of Jennifer Keaton, except Jerry O'Connell. River Phoenix, Will Wheaton and Corey Feldman all made cameos on the program in Jennifer-centric episodes.
Alex, Mallory and Skippy attended Harding High School. Jennifer went to Randolph elementary. Although there are two "Harding" high schools in Ohio, both named after the 29th President of the United States Warren G. Harding, there is no school by that name in the area in and around Columbus, Ohio.
Some critics and other media observers have come to see Family Ties as a reverse parallel to All In The Family. Both shows largely centered around political or philosophical generation gaps, with Family Ties reversing All In The Family's dynamic of conservative parents and liberal kids. Gary David Goldberg has said that hadn't been his intention, calling the reverse similarities a happy accident.
Family Ties benefited from following The Cosby Show every Thursday night on NBC. However, prior to the 1987-1988 season, Bill Cosby requested that another show focusing on African-Americans follow his due to the low number of them on TV at the time. The result was A Different World, a show he helped create and produce that focused on an African-American college. Family Ties was moved to Saturday night, where it took a big dip in the ratings. The show was cancelled in 1989 as the ratings continued to decline.
Tina Yothers released a single when she was on "Family Ties," called "Baby I'm Back In Love Again". It's the song her band sings in the "Band on the Run" episode. Unfortunately it never cracked the top 40.
In her memoir "Untied: A Memoir of Family , Fame and Floundering" , Meredith Baxter talks about tension on the set of "Family Ties". She talks about how she and Michael Gross were annoyed that Michael J Fox was getting all the attention, and their characters were basically being ignored. At one point, in a sign of protest, they walked on the set with one leg bonded together (like they were running a 3 legged race). They made a speech to everyone about how they were tied together because their characters were bland and interchangeable, one boring " uni-parent" creature. Series Executive Producer Gary David Goldberg ignored their protests.
For the record, Michael J Fox's Back To The Future co-star Crispin Glover made his only Family Ties appearance in the episode Birthday Boy. Glover's guest starring role as Alex's friend Doug was not a recurring or semi regular role as some falsely believe.
Scott Valentine wore a long shaggy wig for the role of Mallory's boyfriend Nick Moore. Valentine's real hair can be seen in the episode Mr. Right from season four when Nick gives himself a clean cut makeover to impress Mallory's parents.
Corey Feldman makes an appearance in "The Disciple". Weirdly enough, even though Corey was a big star at this point, this is only a very small cameo; he only has a couple lines and does not interact at all with any of the principals.
Was Ronald Reagan's favorite show-which says a lot! Certainly that it made it popular and cool for awhile to be a business major, GQ clothed, neo-con Republican; teased by your family but still the coolest most impressive and well-dressed person in the house.