The Jeff Foxworthy Show aired from September 1995 until May 1997 on ABC and NBC.
Good Ol'boy Jeff Foxworthy adapted his unique brand of southern humor ( " if somebody takes his dog for a walk and they both use the tree by the corner, he might be a Redneck") to tv in this family sitcom. In the first season he owned a small heating and air-conditioning company in Indiana. At home he traded gentile jibes with his wife Karen ( Anita Barone), a nurse and their bright 7 year old son Matt ( Haley Joel Osment). Walt and Russ ( Matt Clark, Matt Borlenghi), were his 2 dim-witted workers on the job. Sandi ( Sue Murphy) was Karen's worldly co-worker and Craig ( Steve Hytner), the Foxworthy's condescending neighbor at the Hunt Club at Avon Housing Development. Elliot ( Dakin Matthews), a college professor and Lois ( Bibi Besch), were Karen's disdainful parents. Gayle ( Debra Jo Rupp) was Karen's unhappily married sister. Jeff's younger brother Wayne ( Jay Mohr) showed up in early 1996 and on the last episode of that season he got married to Didi ( Michael Clunie), on the same day that Karen gave birth to a baby girl.
When the series moved to NBC for it's second season, the entire cast changed with the exception of Jeff and son Matt ( who suddenly became 9 and was somewhat dumber than he had been in Indiana). Ann Cusack now played Karen and the baby girl was now a 5 year old baby boy named Justin ( played by Jonathan Lipnicki). The locale was now near Atlanta, where Jeff managed the loading dock of a shipping company.
Added to the cast were a number of Jeff's co-workers including Bill Enguall as Bill; Jeanine Jackson as Libby Ann; Neil Grunteli as Florus; Dave Powledge as Ebb; and Candy Tuabucca as Candy.Their was also a wisecracking army brat kid next door named Nettie ( Kathryn Zaremba). Perhaps the most colorful member of the 2nd cast was Big Jim ( G.W. Bailey), Jeff's larger-than-life father who was an unrepetent ladies' man.
A Review from Variety
The Jeff Foxworthy Show
((Tues. (12), 8:30-9 p.m., ABC)
Videotaped in Los Angeles by Brillstein-Grey Entertainment. Executive producers, Tom Anderson, Brad Grey, Bernie Brillstein; co-executive producers, Kathy Ann Stumpe, Tom Seeley, Norm Gunzenhauser; producers, Mark Brull, Dav)
By TODD EVERETT
Good news for ABC is that"Foxworthy" is at home on the samenetwork as "Grace Under Fire," and Foxworthy is as agreeable a personality playing himself as Harry Anderson is as humorist Dave Barry. Show needs stronger supporting characters, though: Foxworthy is a reactor.
Fictional version of Foxworthy runs a heating and air conditioning company in Indiana with Walt Bacon (Matt Clark) and Russ Francis (Matt Borlenghi).
Regulars at home are Foxworthy's non-redneck wife, nurse Karen (Anita Barone) , their son Matt (Haley Joel Osment), Karen's randy co-worker Sandi (Sue Murphy) and neighbor (Steve Hytner) whose condescending attitude toward Foxworthy ("Your country humor -- pure Americana") promises to be a running gag, as are Foxworthy's comebacks. One of the better sequences finds Karen trying to get romantic, suggesting "a bathtub, candles ... maybe a little Yanni," leading to a string of "little Yanni" jokes. ]
Dakin Matthews and Bibi Besch liven up premiere as Karen's parents, unenamored of Foxworthy, whom they (particularly dad) consider little more than a hillbilly.
Tech credits are OK. The show debuts Tuesday and moves to its regular 8 p.m. Saturday slot this Saturday.
A Review From Entertainment Weekly
Published on Oct 06, 1995
SIMPLY REDNECK )
SHARP COMIC JEFF FOXWORTHY GETS STUCK IN A DULL SHOW
You might be a redneck -- at least in spirit -- if you like THE JEFF FOXWORTHY SHOW (ABC, Saturdays, 8-8:30 p.m.). Frankly, I can't come up with any other explanation for this dim new sitcom's fast break out of the ratings gate. It's Foxworthy's homespun cornpone of a stand-up act that got him this job. But unlike Roseanne's and Brett Butler's TV vehicles, little of Foxworthy's show seems tailored to the strengths of its star; he is more like this season's Margaret Cho -- a smart comic trapped in a stupid show.
Foxworthy plays the owner of Foxworthy Heating and Air-Conditioning; he's married (to Anita Barone) and has a 7-year-old son (Haley Joel Osment). In the show's Sept. 12 preview, lines from his club act were shoved awkwardly into the dialogue. Son asks, ''Dad, what's a redneck?'' Foxworthy grins and launches into a litany of punchlines like ''If somebody takes their dog for a walk and they both use the tree at the corner, they might be a redneck.''
I'm not sneering at Foxworthy's humor -- I can understand why lots of folks appreciate its clean, goofy charm. No, it's the lack of any funniness apart from Foxworthy's jokes that makes the show so tedious. Foxworthy's going to exhaust his act pretty quickly; the show's writers had better work on giving him a sitcom personality, and on giving Barone a real role as his wife. C
An Article from The New York Times
AT LUNCH WITH : Jeff Foxworthy;2,000 Ways You Might Be a Redneck
By KEVIN SACK
Published: February 7, 1996
HAROLD'S BARBECUE is Jeff Foxworthy's kind of place.
Most everything on the menu started out as a pig. The tea comes sweetened, and the corn bread is crunchy with cracklings. The sign on the back door to the kitchen warns trespassers, BEWARE OF DOG. And just about everyone in the place is a redneck.
What could be better? After all, it is rednecks -- the kind of people who "go to a family reunion to meet women" and "cut their grass and find a car" -- who have made the 37-year-old comic a multimedia multimillionaire.
Only 11 years after he quit his job at I.B.M., only six years after leaving his hometown of Atlanta for Los Angeles, Mr. Foxworthy has turned redneck humor into a thriving cottage industry.
He draws thousands to his stage appearances, like the performance on New Year's Eve in Lexington, Ky., which Rupp Arena officials said attracted 8,000 people. His album "Games Rednecks Play" (1995), which is nominated for a Grammy, has sold 1.8 million copies, according to Warner Brothers, its producer. The company said the album's predecessor, "You Might Be a Redneck If . . . " (1993), sold 2.6 million copies.
His seven paperback books, which reprise his material, have sold 2.2 million copies, said Chuck Perry, the president of Longstreet Press in Atlanta. And fans bought 450,000 copies of his 1996 laugh-a-day calendar, Mr. Perry said.
Hyperion is paying him $1.75 million to write a hard-cover autobiography, Mr. Foxworthy said, along the lines of the best sellers by Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen and Ellen DeGeneres. His situation comedy on ABC, "The Jeff Foxworthy Show," while panned by critics, was a modest ratings success. It held its own in a lousy Saturday night time slot but will soon be moved to midweek.
He has appeared on Leno, Letterman and Showtime specials. He says that in 1995, he sold $3 million worth of T-shirts with his redneck jokes printed on the front. Late last year, he performed in a televised Presidential gala at Ford's Theater, where he tailored his signature "you might be a redneck" routine to hail the Redneck in Chief.
"If you've ever put Astroturf in the back of your pickup, you might be a redneck," Mr. Foxworthy said, leading Hillary Rodham Clinton to elbow her husband, who once planted artificial grass in the bed of his El Camino.
Mr. Foxworthy said the President thanked him after the show for making him laugh. "I said, 'I hope I didn't offend you, but knowing you were from Arkansas I figured you had spent a few Saturdays with a plastic pig hat on your head,' " Mr. Foxworthy said. "And Hillary started laughing and said, 'Yeah, he had.' "
Given Mr. Foxworthy's broad exposure, it was not surprising that on a recent trip to his hometown the waitresses at Harold's recognized him as they topped off his tea and took his order for a second bowl of Brunswick stew.
"You know what, I'm gonna have to get another thing of stew, I think, cause it's been a while," Mr. Foxworthy said, thickening his drawl a bit for their benefit.
"All right honey," a waitress responded. "We don't want you to go out of here hungry."
Mr. Foxworthy has traveled a long way from his middle-class upbringing in Hapeville, a south Atlanta suburb, and from his days struggling on the Southern comedy circuit. He played clubs with names like Giggles and Zanie's, feeling fortunate to earn $200 for a week's work. The manager of a Sarasota Ramada Inn, where he was performing in the lounge, once evicted him from his room to make space for a paying customer, offering instead to let him bunk with the cook's mother.
Now, Mr. Foxworthy, like the Clampetts, lives in Beverly Hills, Calif., in an 8,000-square-foot house with his wife, Pamela, whom he calls by her maiden name, Gregg, and two young daughters, Jordan, 4, and Juliane, 21 months.
But don't suggest that bourgeois trappings undercut his right to wear the redneck label. At most, Mr. Foxworthy said, he is "a redneck who's learned how to behave a little." When a supermarket tabloid recently scoffed at his Los Angeles life style, he turned to his photo albums for reassurance. "I said, 'O.K., here's me in overalls without a shirt holding a dead rattlesnake,' " he said. " 'Here's me riding a pig. Here's me with a stringer of fish. Here's me with a dead deer on the tailgate. How can you say that I'm not this just because of where I live?' "
Indeed, Mr. Foxworthy's success stems from his recognition that redneckism, which he defines as "a glorious absence of sophistication," knows no geographic boundaries. That notion occurred to him in Detroit one night while sitting at the bar of a comedy club, where the manager and other comics were ribbing him about being a redneck because of his Southern accent. Mr. Foxworthy responded by noting that the comedy club was attached to a bowling alley -- with valet parking.
He returned to his motel room and began listing other defining characteristics of the redneck class: "If your family tree doesn't fork, you might be a redneck."
"If you wear a dress that's strapless with a bra that isn't, you might be a redneck."
"If your dad walks you to school because you're in the same grade, you might be a redneck."
His audiences loved the bit immediately. Now he has collected more than 2,000 of the one-liners. Fans stop him in airports to volunteer their own suggestions, many of which he is only too happy to steal.
"Some guy came up to me last night in the Atlanta airport and said, 'You might be a redneck if you've got a complete set of salad bowls and every one of them says Kool Whip,' " he said. "Somebody gave me, 'If you think the last four words of "The Star-Spangled Banner" are "Gentlemen, start your engines." ' "
Even in New York, Mr. Foxworthy said, construction workers holler at him on the street. "In the middle of Manhattan, people are going, 'Yo, Fox, I'm a redneck, man,' " he said in his best Brooklynese.
Mr. Foxworthy has plenty of other material, most of it observational humor about family life. But it is the redneck stuff that sets him apart. "Games Rednecks Play" offers warnings about holding the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. "I guarantee you when they let those doves go at the opening ceremonies there are going to be guys in the parking lot with shotguns," he says.
Yet, despite the appeal of Mr. Foxworthy's distinctive humor, and the success of television precursors like "The Andy Griffith Show," ABC has excised the South from "The Jeff Foxworthy Show." The network set the show in Indiana, giving Mr. Foxworthy an all-American wife and kid and a struggling heating- and air-conditioning business. Imagine Jerry Seinfeld and friends yukking it up in Omaha.
Mr. Foxworthy's character comes from redneck stock, but rarely shows it. The scripts, he acknowledged, have diluted the essence that made him desirable in the first place. But he says he believes the show has improved as he has fought his way into a more prominent writing role.
ABC gave the show an initial run of eight episodes and has now purchased 10 more. In the first 13 weeks of the season, its viewership was ranked 77th among all shows by the A. C. Nielsen Company.
The program performed poorly in the Northeast but won respectable audiences elsewhere. It drew impressive numbers two weeks ago, when the network experimented by moving the show to Wednesday night. As a result, ABC has temporarily suspended the show in order to save the remaining new episodes for a midweek time slot that will become available in late spring.
"I think it's gotten better, and if we get a fair shot at it we could make a go of it," Mr. Foxworthy said. "But if it doesn't, I've got a great life. I've got a great wife and healthy kids and the rest of it really doesn't matter."
Mr. Foxworthy's humility is understandable given his unlikely path to fame.
A class clown who used to entertain his parents' friends by reciting Bill Cosby and George Carlin routines, Mr. Foxworthy broke into the comedy business while repairing mainframes for I.B.M. After he cracked up an office party one night, friends encouraged him to enter a contest at a local comedy club. He defeated seven first-round contestants and never looked back. Before long, he quit his $30,000-a-year job and hit the road.
From the beginning, his success was built atop a foundation of grits. In those days, he joked about his Uncle Earl, the biggest loser in the world, who was dismissed as a cook at the Waffle House because of his appearance, and about his cousin Rowena, who was so fat that her yearbook picture was an aerial photograph.
Despite the growing homogenization of the South, a trend so visible in glass-encased cities like Atlanta and Charlotte, Mr. Foxworthy does not worry that rednecks may become an endangered species. Although their extinction would deprive him of both audience and material, he sees no need yet for Congress to establish a national redneck preserve -- say perhaps the entire state of Alabama.
"Someone said one time, 'Well, you're talking about the lowest common denominator,' " he said. "But I actually think it's the most common denominator. I think it's the backbone of the country.
"I do have a theory that when they finally nuke this planet that the only two things that are going to be around are cockroaches and rednecks. I guarantee you that out of the mushroom there's going to be one guy come staggering without a shirt on and a pair of blue jeans going: 'Crank it up! Hoo-eee. Damn, man, that about busted my eardrums.' "
An Article from Entertainment Weekly
Published on September 13, 1996
Better Redneck than Dead
Foxworthy promises more blue-collar Southern humor on his revamped sitcom
By Bret Watson
Last year, Jeff Foxworthy was sensing that his rookie sitcom was in trouble. ''At one point my 4-year-old said, 'Dad, I don't want to watch The Jeff Foxworthy Show tonight.' And I said, 'Yeah, you and 220 million other people.'''
But the floundering ABC series was seen as a potential hit by at least one group: executives at NBC. After finishing 90th for the season, Foxworthy was dumped by ABC — and almost instantly picked up by the Peacock network. ''Honest to God, the phone calls were about two minutes apart,'' says the 38-year-old comedian, still amazed. ''Before you could even get mad, the phone rang again.''
That second call was especially surprising considering that it came from NBC, bastion of urbanity and a network that hasn't exactly championed Southern humor — as in Foxworthy's ''You might be a redneck'' stand-up act. But NBC, as it happens, didn't think his ABC effort — set in Indiana, of all places — was down-home enough.
ABC had said, '''We don't want the show to be too Southern,''' recalls the star. ''What does that mean? I was this way when they hired me!'' Foxworthy, whose two comedy albums have sold 6 million copies, was at first perplexed, then angered by ABC's treatment; in the beginning, he wasn't even allowed in the writers' room. ''I sat down with [executive producer] Tom Anderson and said: 'I've been doing this every night of my life for 13 years. If I know anything, I know how to write for Jeff Foxworthy. Please let me in there.'''
He got his wish nine episodes into the show, but by then ratings had dropped off the table. Foxworthy had debuted in third place in a weeknight preview but swiftly sank in its Saturday-night dead zone. ''We were doing the best numbers they'd done there in five or six years,'' says Foxworthy. But nothing helped — not a weeknight appearance in late January (which yielded a top 15 rating), nor a People's Choice Award for Best Actor in a New TV Series.
Enter NBC. ''Jeff very much fits our needs,'' says network chief Warren Littlefield, who sees the revamped Foxworthy as the perfect counterprogramming to CBS' probable hit Cosby. ''They're going to skew more 35-plus. We're going to skew more kids, teens, and 18-to-49.'' And more Southern. ''From what I know,'' says ABC chairman Ted Harbert, ''NBC was mindful of the fact that some of [its] Southern affiliates were saying 'Hey, all these big-city shows may be great for the big cities. How about a show for us?' '' An NBC spokesman refutes the theory, but Foxworthy executive producer Maxine Lapiduss concedes that the network hasn't had ''a blue-collar show on in a long time.''
NBC's overhaul of the series — the new Georgia-based premise is ''like a twisted Mayberry,'' says Lapiduss — elates the star. ''I think the only [sitcoms] that ever work with stand-ups are the ones where they let them do their characters,'' he says, even if he will refrain from redneck jokes. ''When you let them be them, it works.''
If it doesn't, Foxworthy may have to head back to Georgia himself. Although, as he quips, ''you can't go home again...at least until they lift the restraining order.''
(Additional reporting by Kristen Baldwin and A.J. Jacobs
A Review from Variety
The Jeff Foxworthy Show
By JEREMY GERARDNBC, OCT. 14, 8 P.M.
Cast: Jeff Foxworthy, Ann Cusack, Haley Joel Osment, G.W. Bailey, Bill Engvall, Jeanine Jackson, Jonathan William Lipnicki, Neil Giuntoli, Kathryn Zaremba, T.E. Russell, Paula Sorge, Candy Trabuco, Lillian Adams, Leo Weltman.
Filmed by Brillstein-Grey Communications and Mr. Willoughby Prods. Inc. in association with Columbia Pictures Television. Executive producers, Tom Anderson, Brad Grey, Bernie Brillstein, Maxine Lapiduss; producer, Steven Schott; director, Andrew Tsao; writers, John Pardee, Joey Murphy;
Fifteen people with the word "producer" attached to their names, along with one creative consultant and a story editor, drew paychecks on this episode of "The Jeff Foxworthy Show," so who says welfare as we know it has ended? Given the boot by ABC last season, picked up by NBC this season and already facing the replacement of creator and executive producer Tom Anderson with "Cybill" veteran Howard Gould, "Foxworthy" is the beneficiary of extraordinary life-support measures for a show that reveals no discernible pulse and which is to all appearances brain dead.
Hitching the spongy redneck humor of standup comic Jeff Foxworthy to a sitcom format wasn't funny last season and it's still not, despite the shift in locale to the title character's little hometown.
Situation comedies tend to require compelling situations and sharply observant jokes in order to work; shows based on a style of comedy alone rarely do.
The basic situation, as it has applied through the first handful of episodes, finds Jeff praising the virtues of small-town life in the South to his wife Karen (Ann Cusack, gifts dulled beyond recognition), only to be brought up short himself by the limitations, with everything working out, as it must, in the end.
In this week's episode, Karen commits the ultimate social indiscretion of inviting the ex-wife of Jeff's best friend (Bill Engvall) to dinner. Karen commits further malfeasance by cooking a healthy meal, apparently unaware that fat-free Southern cooking is like unbillable legal work or non-orgasmic sex, which is to say pointless.
The laughs, such as they are, arise from Jeff's discomfort in learning intimated details of his best friend's married life. That's about it.
To provide respite from the comic frenzy, there are appearances by Jeff's dad (G.W. Bailey), a ladies' man; and a neighborhood girl (Kathryn Zaremba) who manipulates the dim Foxworthy boys (Haley Joel Osment and Jonathan William Lipnicki) -- up North, they'd be in remedial classes.
Andrew Tsao's direction is as slack and uninspired as the writing. The taste-free Foxworthy habitat comes across on the small screen as tacky, so I suppose congratulations are in order for getting something right.
But you'd think that with 15 writers putting their heads together, odds favored the conjuring of at least a few funny lines. You'd be wrong.
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