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Old 06-24-2013, 01:02 AM   #1
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Unhappy "Family Ties" Creator Gary David Goldberg 1944-2013

The influential writer teamed with Michael J. Fox for a second sitcom, "Spin City," and penned and directed the films "Dad" and "Must Love Dogs."

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Gary David Goldberg, the genial two-time Emmy Award winner who mined his rich personal life to create such amusing and affecting entertainment as the Michael J. Fox sitcom Family Ties, has died.

Goldberg, who later co-created Spin City, another series starring Fox, and the critically lauded Brooklyn Bridge, died from cancer June 23 at his home in Montecito, California. He was 68 years old.

The down-to-earth Brooklyn native collected seven Emmy nominations in his late-starting but illustrious career, winning an outstanding series trophy in 1979 for co-producing the CBS newsroom drama Lou Grant and a writing prize in 1987 for an episode of Family Ties.

Goldberg also penned episodes of The Bob Newhart Show and M*A*S*H and wrote and directed the features Dad (1989) starring Jack Lemmon and Must Love Dogs (2005),

In 1980, Goldberg formed his own company, Ubu Productions, in partnership with Paramount. All of his series' credits famously ended with a photo of his beloved black Labrador Retriever in front of the Louvre in Paris and Goldberg saying, “Sit, Ubu, sit! Good dog,” followed by a bark -- an enduring tribute to a beloved pet.


Based on his life and families of friends he knew with similar backgrounds, Goldberg created Family Ties in the early 1980s and pitched it to CBS, which turned him down. He then brought it to innovative NBC entertainment chief Brandon Tartikoff, who "nurtured it and really made it happen," the writer once recalled.

Family Ties, which debuted on Sept. 22, 1982, reflected the shift in the U.S. from the cultural liberalism of the 1960s and '70s to the Ronald Reagan conservatism of the '80s. That sharp right turn was embodied by Fox, a baby-faced Canadian who played 17-year-old, tie-wearing Alex P. Keaton, the oldest kid of aging flower children played by Meredith Baxter-Birney and Michael Gross. Justine Bateman and Tina Yothers portrayed his sisters Mallory and Jennifer, respectively.

How autobiographical was Family Ties? "Totally autobiographical in concept," Goldberg once said. His wife Diana "and I were the parents, and our daughter Shana was as smart as Alex but could shop with Mallory."

Initially, Goldberg did not want to cast Fox (Matthew Broderick had already turned down the role). But hounded by his casting director, he agreed to a second reading by the actor and was sold. Fox would become the series' breakout star.

"The Republicans took Alex under their wing and made him the poster boy for the movement," Fox said in a 2001 interview, "while at the same time social liberals were writing me letters saying, 'Way to go,' satirizing that point of view. So I was loved on both sides. It was one of those shows that just caught a time."

For the 1984-85 season, NBC shifted Family Ties from Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. to Thursdays in the 8:30 p.m. slot, with the new Cosby Show serving as its lead-in. It would become the No. 2 show in country, attracting an average of 28.2 million viewers at its peak, as a pivotal part of the network's "Must-See" lineup that included Cheers, Night Court and Hill Street Blues.

When Family Ties was at its best, Goldberg recalled in a 2007 interview with the Archive of American Television, "we got what I call the 'Laugh of Recognition,' a deep laugh. When you can get that laugh, you own the audience in the right way. They know you know them, they know you know their story, they can laugh at their own foibles."

Family Ties aired for 180 episodes for seven seasons through May 1989, with the comedy earning 19 Emmy nominations and five wins.

Goldberg later recruited Bill Lawrence (who recently had been fired from Friends) to create Spin City -- the first successful TV series from the fledgling studio DreamWorks SKG. They cast Fox, now a movie star, as New York Deputy Mayor Mike Flaherty, coming up with the idea for the show while on the cross-country flight to pitch the actor. Spin City taped in New York and ran on ABC for six seasons and 145 episodes from 1996-2002.

"Mike wanted to prove himself to a whole new generation," Goldberg recalled. "He said, 'No free ride … I want to do it in a different way.'"

Fox left the sitcom as a regular in 2000 to deal with his Parkinson's disease, Charlie Sheen came on to replace him, and Goldberg retired from TV in 2002 with the end of the series.

Goldberg was born on June 25, 1944, in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn and raised in a noisy apartment building (think the Kramdens' place in The Honeymooners) that was crowded with his caring, extended family. In the building was his grandmother Jenny and grandfather Jack, and they had the clan's only TV set, phone and car.

The sports-obsessed Goldberg graduated from Lafayette High School but then got kicked out of Brandeis University and Hofstra University. In 1969, while holding down a job as a waiter at the Village Gate nightclub in New York’s Greenwich Village, he met his future wife, Pan Am flight attendant Diana Meehan. They hitchhiked around the world for more than a year with Ubu -- something Alex Keaton's hippie parents might have done -- opened an "organic" day care center in Berkeley, Calif., and eventually moved to Southern California.

Somewhere in here, after living on a kibbutz and responding to an ad for English-speaking actors, he amazingly starred as the title character in an sci-fi Israeli series, The Adventures of Scooterman.

"In 1998, I received treatment for my knee by an Israeli therapist," he recalled in 2008. "We spoke about Israel and I mentioned Scooterman and he just froze. It was like he had met Elvis. I thought he was kidding me and then he called his brother, they yelled to each other over the phone, and then I believed him."

As a 31-year-old student at San Diego State, Goldberg took a writing class with visiting lecturer Nate Monaster, a former WGA president who had earned an Oscar nomination for co-writing the 1962 romantic comedy That Touch of Mink, starring Cary Grant and Doris Day. (Future producer and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy also was in his class.)

“It was Nate Monaster who encouraged me to be a writer,” Goldberg noted.

Monaster showed Goldberg’s work to an agent, and that led to a job on the short-lived 1976 NBC sitcom The Dumplings, a Norman Lear show that starred James Coco and Geraldine Brooks as owners of a lunch counter in a Manhattan office building.

Goldberg then landed a job as a writer for hire on CBS and MTM Entertainment’s The Bob Newhart Show for producers Tom Patchett and Jay Tarses, and they later recruited him for ABC’s The Tony Randall Show, which starred the actor (post-The Odd Couple) as a widowed judge. From that producing pair, Goldberg learned to ignore network executives' phone calls and notes whenever possible.

Goldberg was promoted to producer, and when the show was canceled (after a final second season on CBS), Randall told him at the final party, "I have one regret … I wish I could buy stock in your future," he told the Archive of American Television.

Goldberg then shifted to such other MTM productions as Lou Grant, which he produced, and The Last Resort, a 1979-80 sitcom revolving around a group of college students working in a hotel kitchen that he created (it lasted 15 episodes). He also wrote a 1978 episode of M*A*S*H that earned him a WGA award.

In between Family Ties and Spin City, Goldberg didn't fare as well (at least in the ratings) with his next two creations, the Timothy Busfield-starring Champs for ABC and the semi-autobiographical series Brooklyn Bridge, which aired from 1991-93 on CBS.

Brooklyn Bridge received a Golden Globe for best comedy series, eight Emmy nominations and a Humanitas nom for enriching television, but it survived just two seasons. "I had my childhood canceled. It was very personal," he once said.

Goldberg also created another series, The Bronx Zoo, a 1987-88 drama that lasted two seasons on NBC and starred Lou Grant star Ed Asner as an iron-fisted principal of a Bronx school.

In 1989, Goldberg made his feature film debut when he produced, directed and wrote the screenplay for Dad, starring Lemmon as a 78-year-old retired factory worker hopelessly dependent on his domineering wife (Olympia Dukakis). Ted Danson played his son, a character modeled after Goldberg.

In 1995, Goldberg co-wrote with Brad Hall the film Bye Bye Love, which starred Paul Reiser, Matthew Modine and Randy Quaid. And for his final credit, he produced, directed and wrote the 2005 film Must Love Dogs, a film about Internet dating that starred Diane Lane and John Cusack.

Goldberg moved to Vermont and wrote a 2008 memoir, Sit, Ubu, Sit: How I Went From Brooklyn to Hollywood With the Same Woman, the Same Dog, and a Lot Less Hair.

Goldberg and Diana eloped in 1990, more than 20 years after they met. He never seemed to be obsessed with the riches that came along with his career. "Once we started to be together, we wanted to collect adventures, you know, the way other couples wanted to collect furniture or money," he said in 2008. She founded the Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles.

In addition to his wife and his daughter Shana, survivors include another daughter, Cailin. Shana is an Emmy-winning writer and producer whose credits include Mad About You and Friends; she worked on both series with her future husband, writer-producer Scott Silveri. Cailin is a screenwriter who last summer married Rob Dubbin, a writer for The Colbert Report.

Asked during his Archive of American Television interview how he would like to be remembered, Goldberg said: "I was a guy who showed up for work and took the chance for finding out whether I could do it or not. … I'd like to think I made my success not at the expense of anyone. Success was accidental."
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Old 06-24-2013, 01:07 AM   #2
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Wow. So sad. He created my favorite sitcom from the 1980's. It was always overshadowed by The Cosby Show too. I loved Spin City as well. R.I.P. Gary and thanks for all the laughs.
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Old 06-24-2013, 01:21 AM   #3
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Wow!!! What a life and what a legacy!!! May he rest in peace!!
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Old 06-24-2013, 04:00 AM   #4
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I'm saddened to hear of this tragedy. He seemed like a real nice person. I don't make a habit of this, but when his book came out about five years I ago, I sent Gary an e-mail and asked him if they ever considered putting Skippy and Mallory together, and he answered me.

He explained to me that it was discussed among the writers, but they passed on the idea because Skippy was too close in the Keaton household. He said it would look inappropriate to have Mallory and Skippy together as a couple. I was thrilled that Gary took the time answer me. Rest in Peace Gary David Goldberg.
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Old 06-24-2013, 01:43 PM   #5
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I just rewatched the episode 4Rms OcnVu last night! Thjank-you Gary David Goldberg for the great family viewing TV you provided for us. And may you rest in peace.
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Old 06-24-2013, 01:57 PM   #6
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Wow, I didn't even know that he was sick. Family Ties is one of my favorite shows. R.I.P. Gary.
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Old 06-24-2013, 02:04 PM   #7
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I'm truly sad. I read his autobiography when it first came out and he came across as a wonderful, caring, funny and talented man. Thanks for creating Family Ties Gary! R.I.P.
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Old 06-24-2013, 04:05 PM   #8
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http://www.deadline.com/2013/06/mich...avid-goldberg/

Michael J. Fox on the death of Gary David Goldberg.

With a full heart I say goodbye to my mentor, benefactor, partner, second father and beloved friend, Gary David Goldberg. He touched so many with his enormous talent and generous spirit. He changed my life profoundly. Love to Diana and all of Gary’s family.
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Old 06-24-2013, 04:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Family Ties Forever!
I'm saddened to hear of this tragedy. He seemed like a real nice person. I don't make a habit of this, but when his book came out about five years I ago, I sent Gary an e-mail and asked him if they ever considered putting Skippy and Mallory together, and he answered me.

He explained to me that it was discussed among the writers, but they passed on the idea because Skippy was too close in the Keaton household. He said it would look inappropriate to have Mallory and Skippy together as a couple. I was thrilled that Gary took the time answer me. Rest in Peace Gary David Goldberg.
That is so great Jenny that he wrote to you. He always sounded like a nice man who appreciated his fans.
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Old 06-24-2013, 04:20 PM   #10
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Yikes! That bites.

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Old 06-24-2013, 04:27 PM   #11
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So sad to hear....
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Old 06-24-2013, 07:19 PM   #12
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http://www.eonline.com/news/433067/g...e-sheen-reacts

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Gary David Goldberg, Creator of Family Ties and Spin City, Dies; Charlie Sheen Reacts

Gary David Goldberg, the creator of Family Ties, died Saturday at his home in Montecito, Calif., after a long battle with brain cancer. He was 68.

Goldberg, who passed just two days shy of his 69th birthday, is the man responsible for making Michael J. Fox a star after Family Ties became of the most successful TV shows of the '80s. The duo reunited for ABC's Spin City before Charlie Sheen replaced Fox, who left the series after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Sheen took to Twitter to mourn Golberg's passing, tweeting, "Gary David Goldberg left us today. my friend my sit com mentor a genius. period the end he's the sole reason I have a tv career peace GDB."



Friends and Cougar Town Star Courteney Cox, who played Lauren Miller on Family Ties, also took to Twitter to pay respect to Goldberg, writing, "My thoughts and prayers are with Gary David Goldberg's family. A wonderful man who taught me so much."

Michael Gross, who played Keaton family patriarch Steven, issued a statement, saying, "Gary's love for his wife and his family was at the center of his work, and I was fortunate to be a part of that work. I did not watch a lot of prime-time television prior to my role on Family Ties, so just assumed that most television shows were as well-written, as well-run and as much fun as ours. Gary was a good man and a fine storyteller. Society needs its storytellers, particularly those who make us laugh, and his sweet, compassionate voice will be missed."


Bill Lawrence, the co-creator of Spin City, tweeted, "Everyone has a mentor (or two hopefully) that touches his/her life. Gary Goldberg passed away today. Wish I had thanked him more."

In addition to Spin City and Family Ties, Goldberg also created CBS' Brooklyn Bridge and worked on The Bob Newhart Show, M*A*S*H and Lou Grant.
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Old 06-24-2013, 09:29 PM   #13
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What a wonderful man and talented writer. FT remains a TV classic, and my grandmother ADORED the short-lived Brooklyn Bridge. God bless you, Mr. Goldberg. I hope you and Ubu are playing Frisbee again.
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Old 06-24-2013, 09:30 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Family Ties Forever!
I'm saddened to hear of this tragedy. He seemed like a real nice person. I don't make a habit of this, but when his book came out about five years I ago, I sent Gary an e-mail and asked him if they ever considered putting Skippy and Mallory together, and he answered me.

He explained to me that it was discussed among the writers, but they passed on the idea because Skippy was too close in the Keaton household. He said it would look inappropriate to have Mallory and Skippy together as a couple. I was thrilled that Gary took the time answer me. Rest in Peace Gary David Goldberg.
That was so sweet of him to answer you! Thank you for sharing that, Jenny.
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:31 AM   #15
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I'm sorry to hear of Mr. Goldberg's death. He created one of my all time favorite shows ever- that being "Family Ties" of course.
I have also come to like his late '80s show "Day By Day" recently as well- I wish this one would get released to DVD- I'd love to watch more episodes of this.
May God bless and comfort Mr. Goldberg's family in this sad time.
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