In his memoir Sit, Ubu, Sit, Family Ties creator Gary David Goldberg talks about how staff writer Michael Weithorn invented the Ned character Mike and I rave about in this week's podcast. Weithorn envisioned Tom Hanks, then coming off Bosom Buddies, as Alex's uncle, and the show signed him to an affordable deal for several episodes.
On page 67 (Shame on the publishers for not including an index in this book), Goldberg describes "Mike Fox's" reaction to Hanks as "love at first sight." In fact, he quotes Fox as saying, "I love this guy. I love him." He begs Goldberg for scenes with him, saying he doesn't even need jokes, that they can give Hanks all the jokes. He just wants to be on stage with Hanks."
After Ned's debut in the Season 1 two-parter "The Fugitive" but before shooting "Say Uncle," the Touchstone movie "Splash" premiered to huge success. Goldberg writes that Hanks' then-agent called him and said that Tom wasn't gonna do the other episodes contracted for, and even if he did, "it would have to be for at least 10 times the originally agreed-upon price."
As Goldberg continues:
A day or two later the phone rings in my office, and it's Tom Hanks.
"Have these guys been busting your balls?" Tom wants to know, using the legal terminology for what's been going on here."
"A little bit," I have to admit.
"Listen, man, I loved working with you guys. I love Mike Fox. Anytime, anywhere. At the original price, OK?"
"You drive a hard bargain, Tom. But OK."
I love this story because it confirms several things we hope to be true: 1) Hanks is a great guy, 2) Hanks and Fox loved working together. Goldberg goes on to talk about the scene the two actors share in the kitchen (the vanilla extract scene we talk about in the pod) and says he still remembers it clearly and can "call up that shiver of excitement on the back of my neck," knowing how big those two would soon become and their easy chemistry.
Sit, Ubu, Sit is a great read but not as detailed about Family Ties as fans of the series would hope. I wrote more about it on Cultureshark.