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Grace Under Fire ran from September 1993 until February 1998 on ABC.
Many critics called Brett Butler the successor to Roseanne, one tough independent lady for the '90's. Her character Grace was certainly hard on men in the early episodes of this blue-collar comedy and with good reason. She had just broken up with her physically abusive, "knuckle-dragging, cousin-loving, beer-sucking redneck husband" after 8 years, convinced it was better to try and raise her three kids by herself - no matter what the sacrifices were. Under an affirmative action program, Grace got a job at an oil refinery where she referred to herself as a "quota babe" and traded insults with her primitive male co-workers.
A lot of cast members had ex's that just wouldn't go away! Grace's smooth-talking ex-husband, Jimmy ( Geoff Pierson), appeared from time-to-time, trying to talk Grace and the kids into coming back to him; Russell ( Dave Thomas), the mellow pharmacist, fought comically with his recently divorced ex-wife, Barbara and Nadine ( Julie White), Grace's best friend, was on her fourth husband, Wade ( Casey Sander).
Grace's three kids, troublemaker ( like his dad) Quentin ( Jon Paul Steuer and later Sam Horrigan), adorable Libby( Kaitlin Cullum), and baby Patrick ( Dylan and Cole Sprouse)added to the chaos at home. Also seen occassionaly were Grace's loose-living sister, Faith ( Valri Bromfield); Bill ( Charles Hallahan), and then later, John ( Paul Dooley), her huffy bosses at the refinery; Dougie ( Walter Olkewicz), a co-worker; boyfriend Ryan( William Fichtner) and Jimmy's strangely named kinfolk - Emmett Kelly, Jean Kelly and DeForest Kelly.
In the 1995-1996 season Grace was promoted at the refinery and gained a steady boyfriend in plant executive Rick ( Alan Autry). They broke up after a season and Grace entered the dating scene, while attending night school to better herself. In 1996-1997 her ex Jimmy started turning up more regularly trying to clean up his act. Also showing up was Grace's 4th child Mmatthew ( Tom Everett Scott), whom she had given up for adoption when she was young, and who was now in trouble ( having impregnated a woman Grace's age). In early 1997 Wade and Nadine had a baby but within a few months they divorced and Nadine departed from the cast ( Julie White had abruptly quit the show as she was tired of star Brett Butler's backstage antics). By the truncated final season Grace had left the oil refinery and went to work first for a St. Louis ad agency and then a local construction company where D.C. (Don D.C. Curry), was her boss. Her former mother-in-law Jean ( Peggy Rea), was more frequently seen and a new friend was Dot ( Lauren Tom), who ran the local hair salon. In early 1998 Bev ( Julia Duffy), a rich friend, moved in with Grace to get in touch with her roots," but the new relationship was short-lived as the series was abruptly canceled in mid-February, caused largely by Star Brett Butler's emotional problems.
Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner were the executive producers of this sitcom.
Theme Song Lyrics
ORIGINAL LYRICS : Lady Madonna by The Beatles (written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney) Performed by Aretha Franklin (Seasons 1 - 3)
Original Air Dates: 1993 - 1998 (ABC
Lady Madonna, children at your feet.
Wonder how you manage to make ends meet.
Who finds the money? When you pay the rent?
Did you think that money was heaven sent?
Friday night arrives without a suitcase.
Sunday morning creep in like a nun.
Monday's child has learned to tie his bootlace.
See how they run.
Lady Madonna, baby at your breast.
Wonder how you manage to feed the rest.
See how they run.
Lady Madonna, lying on the bed,
Listen to the music playing in your head.
Tuesday afternoon is never ending.
Wednesday morning papers didn't come.
Thursday night you stockings needed mending.
See how they run.
Lady Madonna, children at your feet.
Wonder how you manage to make ends meet.
SECOND THEME ( A Perfect World)
Can you see me walkin' down the street
Beat box blares a click track to my empty mind.
Now my walkma's playin' a slow and endless march
And I'm looking for that bright spot in the sky.
But in my eyes there's a perfect world.
I can see it: A perfect world.
A Review from The New York Times
Review/Television; Finally, Mother Knows Best
By JOHN J. O'CONNOR
Published: September 29, 1993
Following "Home Improvement," "Grace Under Fire" has a time slot that most new series can only dream about. It also has one of the new season's snappiest, saltiest stars. Like Grace in the title, Alabama-born, Georgia-reared Brett Butler wields her Southern drawl like a lethal stiletto. This show is produced by Carsey-Werner, the same folks who put together "Roseanne," and there is a remarkable similarity in bite quotients.
Like Ms. Butler, Grace has walked away from an abusive husband. She got her first danger signal on her wedding day, when the bridegroom had a fistfight with the accordionist because he couldn't play Led Zeppelin. Off to her new home with her kids, the standard three, Grace is stopped for speeding. "Ticket?" she tells the policeman. "I can't afford the car." She adds, "Just shoot me and get it over with."
But clearly, nothing is going to keep Grace down for long. Not her new job at an oil refinery, where the sexual-harassment troops can't get past her withering put-downs, and not even the matchmaker who seems to specialize in weirdos. ("The last guy," Grace swears, "wore a little metal hat that prevented Ted Koppel from controlling his thoughts.")
Beneath the crackling attitudes, Grace does love her children, slamming the door on one grungy young baby-sitting couple with notice that "there's no way I'm leaving my babies with Sid and Nancy." And she has struck up a promising friendship with an offbeat man named Russell (Dave Thomas, formerly of "SCTV"). Russell doesn't have children, he says, because "it would've interfered with my wife's consumerism." And so it goes, the dialogue steadily reverberating with stand-up zingers. The trick is in the delivery. Ms. Brett delivers splendidly.
A Review from USA TODAY
TV PREVIEW/BY MATT ROUSH
Amazing 'Grace' grounded in reality
Big Bones. Big Hair. Big Mouth. Big Laughs. Brett Butler is the best, if not biggest, thing to happen to the hard-knocks TV family since Roseanne.
Like a hard-bitten ( because once-beaten) version of Designing Women's Jean Smart, Butler is a sassy and sexual single mom of three, a cracked Alabama belle named Grace Kelly ( bad joke) who teeters on the edge of hysteria but is way too tough to topple.
At home she nurtures with mordant wit, as in this exchange with her kids: " What's the rule?" " Don't." " What's the punishment?" " Death."
At work, an oil refinery, she mixes it up with a saucy and taunting bravado. Her low-pitched drawl can be turn-on and put-off all at once.
Butler initially leans too heavily on glib male bashing, dishing her " knuckle-draggin', 'cousin-lovin', ' beer-suckin' redneck" of an ex. What she needs , like Roseanne, is a Dan.
What she gets and its just about as good, is a Dave.
As in Dave Thomas, playing a charmingly lumpy refugee from his own bad marriage. In their first meeting, they test each other with domestic horror stories. Ditto on their first date, over home-cooked " macaroni and cheese with little hot dog chunks," betting money that they can one-up each other with jokes like, " His idea of foreplay was waking me up."
Thankfully, Grace has heart as well as bite. Beyond the gammy gags about body parts and bodily functions, there are also blurts of sad truth, as when her son lets on he knew his dad beat his mom up when drunk or mad. Her pain is real, her triumph in getting on with it.
Insiders will tell you this show will benefit from the heat of its lead-in Home Improvement. But it's almost not necessary. Grace lights its own fire.
An Article from The New York Times
TELEVISION; The Satirist Who Landed in a Sitcom
By ANDY MEISLER
Published: April 17, 1994
IN MAY 1993 DAVE THOMAS, formerly of the brilliant "Second City Television" comedy troupe, appeared on NBC's 90th birthday tribute to Bob Hope. During that three-hour "parade of stars," a tuxedoed Mr. Thomas (whose turn came just after Lucie Arnaz and just before Brooke Shields) was introduced as "Chester Hope, Bob's nephew." He did a gently satirical version of Mr. Hope's standup style. Then, dropping out of character, he praised Mr. Hope as "the guy everybody acknowledges as the best."
The few former SCTV fans who would watch a Hope tribute were probably puzzled at this. In the late 1970's and early 80's Mr. Thomas' darkly hilarious impersonation of Mr. Hope -- portraying the comedian as a tightfisted pragmatist totally dependent on his gag writers and business sense -- typified the biting, seditious "SCTV" approach.
Or maybe if they, like Mr. Thomas, have been around the block a few times, they knew what he knows.
"Eventually we all become the objects of our own satire," says Mr. Thomas, sitting in his dressing room next to a sound stage in Studio City. "In living your life, paying your rent, experimenting in all forms of the media, you ultimately chase your own tail across the boundary of irony.
"On the Hope show I was not a satirist impersonating Hope; I was Mark Spitz," he says, choosing an apt name from Hope guest lists of 15 years ago. "But that's O.K. That's part of getting older, too. I think a lot of the young comedians have a lot of anger. A lot of 'I'll show the world, I'll show them!' Then, as we get older, we calm down. Our metabolism changes, and we go, 'Oh, I get it. You're supposed to live your life, not attack it.' "
Mr. Thomas is all the more reflective about matters like these since the sudden death at age 43 of his friend John Candy, a fellow "SCTV" alumnus. At Mr. Candy's funeral last month, the remaining "SCTV" cast members were together again for the first time in years.
Mr. Thomas says: "It just made me realize that this is a business we work in, and you can't spend all your passion on it. Your friends are more important than the work."
At the moment, Mr. Thomas is employed as a supporting player on the hit sitcom "Grace Under Fire."Had that show existed during the SCTV years, it would almost certainly have been dismembered by the cast, which also included Rick Moranis, Catherine O'Hara, Andrea Martin, Joe Flaherty and Eugene Levy. Ruthless parodies of anything pertaining to television specifically and pop culture generally were the heart of "SCTV," a weekly series revolving around a fictional television station in the imaginary city of Melonville. For several seasons Mr. Thomas served as the show's head writer.
That Mr. Thomas is a "Grace Under Fire" cast member is a source of pride to the show's producers; that he works with them in well-paid semi-idleness is a peculiar reflection of the comedy industry's ceaseless need to locate, showcase and then homogenize its most talented performers.
"GRACE" IS A SINGLE-MOM sitcom distinguished by the gritty, post-Roseanne feminist humor of its star, Brett Butler -- and by its choice position following "Home Improvement" on ABC's Wednesday schedule.
Mr. Thomas, 45 and the divorced father of three, plays Russell Norton, a divorced pharmacist who is a platonic friend of the title character played by Ms. Butler. Russell pops up every week as the nebbishy counterbalance to Grace, a wisecracking escapee from an abusive marriage. In the opening credit sequence, Grace's children pin a sign saying "Kick Me" on Russell's back.
"We just thought it was so neat to get Dave," says Marcy Carsey, an executive producer of "Grace," in a telephone interview. "We wanted to cast a guy who made Brett laugh. Of course I'm an 'SCTV' fan. How can you work in comedy and not be?"
Ms. Butler, an Alabama-born standup comedian who has a reputation for asserting creative control on her set, says: "I'm getting a big kick out of working with Dave. When he forgets his lines he always says the goofiest, funniest things. And when I stand up for myself, I see the solidarity in his eyes. Sometimes we laugh together at the lameness of the lines we have to say."
Mr. Moranis, Mr. Thomas's friend and former "SCTV" teammate, says he hasn't seen "Grace Under Fire." "But I certainly couldn't tell you whether Dave 'should' be doing it," he added in a telephone interview from his home in New York. "People do what they do -- for reasons of timing and opportunity and luck and acceptance and ambition."
Mr. Thomas himself has other things besides work on his mind.
"I have my kids three or four days every week," he says over lunch at a restaurant near his Malibu-area home. His late-model Mercedes is in the parking lot; his production office in Santa Monica, where he works to get his own film and television projects under way, is just a few minutes down the Pacific Coast Highway.
"The truth is, I'd much rather spend time with them than work," he says. Describing a recent excursion to see the movie "On Deadly Ground," he sounds like any exasperated parent -- except for the moment when he screws his face into an impromptu impression of the film's star, Steven Seagal, perfectly capturing the actor's air of Zen paranoia.
It is a split-second blast from Mr. Thomas's comedic past. Born in St. Catherines, Ontario in Canada, Mr. Thomas, who has a master's degree in English literature from McMaster University, quit an advertising job at age 27 to join the Toronto branch of the Second City improvisational comedy group.
His cohorts included most of the future members of the "SCTV" show, first seen in 1977 as a half-hour Toronto-based program syndicated in the United States. In 1981 NBC picked up "SCTV," turned it into a 90-minute program produced in Edmonton, Alberta, and ran it at 12:30 A.M. on Saturdays.
One memorable sketch teamed Mr. Thomas's Bob Hope with Mr. Moranis's flawless Woody Allen in a movie called "Play It Again, Bob." Mr. Thomas also played a surly news commentator, Bill Needle, and a free-associating version of Walter Cronkite, among dozens of other characters.
But he is best remembered as Doug Mckenzie, half of the McKenzie Brothers: a stocking-capped, beer-swilling duo who, in a regular segment titled "The Great White North," delivered sub-proletarian discourses on such topics as "why the parking lots are so small at doughnut places." They were the "SCTV" way of complying with Canadian Broadcasting Company regulations demanding that all television shows contain a certain proportion of "Canadian content." Bob and Doug were probably not what the CBC had in mind; they and their moronic catch phrases -- "Beauty, eh?" and "Take off, you hosers" -- became cult favorites.
AS DID SCTV. SHOT FAR AWAY from Burbank, dropped into an obscure time slot and stubbornly resistant to network interference (Mr. Thomas served as the point man), it began to win American awards and recognition, and its members were seen as the successors to the first wave of "Saturday Night Live" performers.
This success planted the inevitable seeds of SCTV's demise.
"One of the sketches we did," Mr. Thomas says, "had the entire cast of 'Hill Street Blues' winning Emmys, and when they all came up at once to get them, crashing right through the stage. In 1982, when the writing staff for 'SCTV' won Emmys, there were like 18 of us up there. I remember turning to Catherine when we were up there getting our awards and saying: 'Doesn't this remind you of something?' "
The Emmys got Hollywood's attention, and soon the troupe was splitting up to pursue projects there. Mr. Thomas left "SCTV" after the 1982 season. (The show survived for one more year on the Showtime cable network.) In 1983 he and Mr. Moranis co-wrote, co-directed and co-starred in a McKenzie Brothers movie, "Strange Brew." This thematic forerunner to "Wayne's World" was not a success -- and as a result, Mr. Thomas lost the leverage to control big-budget movie or television projects.
For all Mr. Thomas's talk about living for the moment and subduing one's anger, he clearly harbors ill will over that stage of his career. "I'd go in to talk to the movie execs to pitch them my ideas," he recalls, "and they wind up pitching me things they want me to do for them. Ideas maybe some lawyer or some old writer friend gave them. And they're never funny, so what's the point?"
In 1984 Mr. Thomas joined the cast of Lorne Michaels's short-lived comedy-variety program, "The New Show." After that he wrote the first of many drafts of the Dan Ackroyd-Chevy Chase movie "Spies Like Us"; directed "The Experts," a John Travolta comedy deemed unreleasable by its studio; acted in "Stripes" and the Sesame Street movie "Follow That Bird"; starred in "Boris and Natasha," whose producer went bankrupt and which sat in a lawyer's office for four years before going straight to cable; produced, wrote and appeared in several Showtime short films and specials; and appeared on the late-night talk shows and "Saturday Night Live."
In 1990 CBS gave Mr. Thomas the green light for "The Dave Thomas Show," a half-hour summer replacement for their 10:30 p.m. Monday time slot. Giving his own spin to the comedy-variety format, Mr. Thomas rented a theater in Long Beach, filled it with actors disguised as audience members, hung a giant blue screen on the stage and, via special effects, pretended that he could drive a car right through the proscenium and onto a desert highway. "Audience members" were then shown staring at him through binoculars and trying to figure out what he was doing.
Terrified by this satirical breach of the show-business social contract, CBS executives scrapped the pilot episode. A watered-down version, featuring his "SCTV" and "SNL" friends, ran for five weeks.
Last year he auditioned for "Grace Under Fire" and won the part. He works on the show about two and a half days a week, and meets with writers and potential investors in his spare time.
"I like doing 'Grace,' " Mr. Thomas says. "I go on stage, I say my lines, I either get my laughs or I don't. I don't have to wait for ratings, or the opening weekend box office. You know what I mean? The feedback is immediate, and I love that.
"It's not the ideal situation, but right now this seems to be as close to it as I can get." CLASS NOTES FOR THE OTHER 'SCTV' GRADS
Perhaps it was too much to expect that the caustic, iconoclastic comic spirit of "SCTV," conceived far from Hollywood and nurtured in a low-paid, close-knit, us-against-them environment, could somehow survive the breakup of the troupe 10 years ago. Instead, most of the "SCTV" alumni have been absorbed into the comedy mainstream.
JOHN CANDY: The characters he portrayed in hit films like "Splash" and "Planes, Trains and Automobilies" -- and in other efforts, like "The Great Outdoors," "Summer Rental," and "Speed Zone" - were funny and appealing, but never really quickened the blood like his one-man 'SCTV" rep group: the station manager, Johnny LaRue; "Farm guy" Billy Sol Hurok; Dr. Tongue, a star of "Monster Chiller Horror Theater"; and the polka-playing Yosh Schmenge.
RICK MORANIS: Of all the cast members, Rick Moranis has had perhaps the greatest skill, or luck, in picking post-"SCTV" movie roles. After "Strange Brew," in which he and Dave Thomas reprised their roles as the McKenzie Brothers, he played supporting roles in "Ghostbusters" and "Ghostbusters II" and starred in "Little Shop Of Horrors" and the vastly successful Disney films "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" and "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid." He plays Barney Rubble in the live-action movie version of "The Flintstones," opening next month.
ANDREA MARTIN: Fondly remembered as the spunky, leopard-skin-hatted station manager, Edith Prickley, and her sister Edna Boil, proprietor of "Edna's Prairie Warehouse and Curio Emporium." She has appeared in her own cable specials and in movies like "Club Paradise" and "Rude Awakening." In 1987 she starred in a failed CBS sitcom, "Roxie." Last year she had a role in the Broadway musical "My Favorite Year." She is writing a one-woman stage show that will be performed in Toronto in the fall.
MARTIN SHORT: After the show was canceled, Mr. Short took many of his "SCTV" characters -- including ultra-nerd Ed Grimley -- and participated in a mid-1980's renaissance at NBC's "Saturday Night Live." Mr. Short also established a lucrative movie career in projects like "Father of the bride" and "Three Amigos." Last year he stared on Broadway opposite Bernadette Peters in the Neil Simon musical comedy "The Goodbuy Girl," winning better reviews than the play itself did. He is preparing a comedy series, starring himself for NBC.
JOE FLAHERTY: Mr. Flaherty played some of "SCTV's" most unforgettable characters (the station owner, Guy Caballero; Count Floyd, a kiddie-show host; the insufferable talk-show host Sammy Maudlin) but, alone of all the troupe members, has not pursued the limelight wholeheartedly. Aside from "Maniac Mansion," his credit include only a few comedy films. He is not listed with the Screen Actors Guild.
CATHERINE O'HARA: Her indelible character on "SCTV" was the all-around entertainer Lola Heatherton. Since then she has had supporting roles in the movies "After Hours," "Heartburn," and "Beetlejuice" and struck gold playing Macaulay Culkin's mother in both "Home Alone" movies. She recently finished filming roles in four movies, including "Wyatt Earp."
EUGENE LEVY: On "SCTV" he portrayed or impersonated, among others, the hapless newscaster Earl Camembert; Gene Shalit; and the archetypal Catskills comic, Bobby Bitman. In the last few years he has concentrated on writing and directing; he recently co-wrote and directed a comedy western, "Sodbusters," for Showtime.
An Article From Entertainment Weekly
Published on May 27, 1994
AS A SOUR, DIVORCED MOM, SOUNTHERN-FRIED STAND-UP BRETT BUTLER HAS IGNITED 'GRACE UNDER FIRE,' MAKING THE SARDONIC SITCOM THE HOTTEST NEW SHOW OF THE SEASON.
When a character in Grace Under Fire (ABC, Wednesdays, 9:30-10 p.m.) recently referred to Brett Butler's Grace Kelly as a ''bitter, divorced pain in the butt,'' the studio audience laughed heartily, and I was surprised. We've been trained by sitcoms to process anything containing the word ''butt'' as a punchline, of course; in this case, however, the patent truth of the description seemed to me to outweigh any possible humor. What I mean is, I still find it pretty amazing that the rancorous, intelligent, stubborn person Butler has created in this show has proven likable enough to make Grace Under Fire the most popular new series of the 1993-94 season. Because this Grace Kelly-Alabama-born, divorced mother of three, survivor of what she describes as ''a nine-year marriage to a perfect alcoholic who beat the tar out of me''-is, truly, a bitter pain in the butt. Grace Under Fire is as close to kitchen-sink comedy as TV gets these days- intentionally drab and persistently one-note, it's The Honeymooners if Alice had had kids and dumped Ralph. (By comparison, Roseanne-with its capacious cast and roiling, varied moods-is grand opera.) Grace works a tedious job at an oil refinery and comes home every night to take care of her glowering son Quentin (Jon Steuer), her daughter Libby (solemn, sweet Kaitlin Cullum), and the baby, Patrick (played by Dylan and Cole Sprouse). Her face has two expressions, grim and disgusted, and most of the jokes are on the level of someone wondering whether ''you can still have sex at (age) 94,'' and Grace replying, ''Sure; you just can't feel it.'' So it's tempting to ascribe Grace's popularity to the cushy position it's had most of the season following ABC's biggest hit, Home Improvement. But then we need only recall that Jackie Mason's Chicken Soup occupied similar territory for a short while (following Roseanne) to conclude that a lead-in smash doesn't make much difference if a show features deeply unsympathetic characters. David Letterman recently asked Butler, ''Is there a secret to the success of your show?'' and without pausing a beat, Butler replied, ''Yeah: me.'' Her effrontery was perfect-a mixture of joking and pride. The fact is, Butler is an extremely deft stand-up comic-in nightclubs and on cable TV, she gets her best laughs from ribald lines that contrast her Southern drawl with her silver-tongued delivery of intricately structured jokes. In making the transition to sitcom stardom, she's still stiff as an actress, and it's all too obvious that she thinks most of her punchlines would be better if she'd had time to polish them herself. It is also depressing to see Dave Thomas, once so great on SCTV, walking through Grace as Russell, a shlubby pharmacist. Thomas delivers his mild jokes most often from under frowning brows, as if he really didn't want to meet the gaze of the camera and admit to us that he's a regular on this show. When the series debuted, Russell was angling to date Grace, but with no sexual or romantic charge between them, they made an affable but bland duo. As the show has gone on, they've settled for being ''just friends'' and Russell is now dating Grace's sister, Faith (Valri Bromfield, in a semi-regular role). The effect, though, has been to neuter his character. Much more promising is Grace's budding relationship with a poker-faced petrochemist played by William Fichtner. The only actor on Grace with a pan deader than Butler's, Fichtner as Ryan is at once handsome and odd-looking, with tense hair and enormous, sad eyes, and the two of them have a fine comic rhythm going, matching each other in dour sarcasm. Maybe if they find some appropriately cynical version of happiness together, Grace Under Fire will start setting off more sparks than it does now. B-
An Article from Entertainment Weekly
Published on June 30, 1995
'GRACE UNDER FIRE' INVADES RUSSIA
More Like some kind of wacky sitcom character, Nikita Khrushchev once pounded a table with a shoe to proclaim that the Soviet Union would bury the U.S. Today, the late premier's countrymen are burying themselves in the first American sitcom broadcast in Russia: Grace Under Fire. Since the collapse of communism, erstwhile Soviets have enjoyed such star-spangled imports as Miami Vice, Zorro, and Rescue 911. But never have apparatchiks giggled along with Hollywood until last April, when Greis v og'ne (translation: ''Grace in the Fire''), starring Brett Butler as Greis, began airing five nights a week on TV6, reaching Russia, the Baltics, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and parts of Scandinavia. Why did Grace slip past customs first? ''This is a show that travels well,'' says Paul Talbot, president of the Fremantle Corporation, which distributes Grace overseas. ''It's not difficult for Russians to see a woman in a hard hat. In Russian newsreels you saw women out working in the fields and on construction gangs. And Grace has a rather broad, strong, powerful personality that comes over very well.''
Or almost very well. Russian TV seldom provides lip-synch overdubbing for foreign shows, but instead slaps on a voice-over by a lone male, who handles all dialogue. Greis boasts the voices of both a man and a woman. Even so, Grace loses some of her sour, sarcastic edge, since her dry one-liners are delivered in bubbly, feminine tones. Which may explain why Greis has been drawing fire from viewers like Valeria Levchenko, a technical manager in her mid-50s who watched an episode without cracking a smile. ''Sometimes sarcasm just doesn't translate well into our language,'' she observed. But Elena Vasilleva catches Greis regularly. ''It's a great stress reliever,'' says Vasilleva, 27, an unemployed Moscow art critic. ''Grace, my hero, is the master of her own life, and I can relate to the tremendous irony of life she feels.''
Greis does seem to have a collective of fans: Early ratings indicate the show draws 14 percent of the estimated 45 million viewers in the TV6 area. Still, that's only about half the number of people who tune in to Santa Barbara. Butler herself has not seen the Russian Grace. Though she's impressed at the show's ability to cross borders -- Grace currently airs in 33 foreign countries -- it has complicated her vacation plans. ''I'm trying to go to a place where people wouldn't know me,'' Butler says. ''I got the list [of countries that air Grace]from the distributors and said, Jesus, there's no place I can go that isn't in Djakarta or something.''
An Article from The New York Times
Waiting in the Wings
By BILL CARTER
Published: May 28, 1997
So what ever happened to ''Grace Under Fire''? The one-time ABC comedy hit was not even on the fall schedule that ABC announced last week, a development that was all the more surprising given how many new shows -- 12 -- the network was adding.
But ''Grace'' was not canceled. ABC announced that the series would be one of its backup shows ready to be added to the schedule later in the season.
In this case, later may not be very late at all. ABC has actually ordered 25 episodes of ''Grace,'' three more than the standard series order of 22 episodes. That means that the show is very likely to be the first one added to ABC's schedule, perhaps within a couple of weeks of the start of the season.
Given the economic commitment involved in signing on for 25 episodes, why not put it on the air at the outset? Several network and studio executives said ABC was trying to go with as many new shows as it had on hand in the fall, hoping for as many chances as possible to ignite the glimmerings of a hit.
''As soon as one of those new comedies tanks,'' said one studio executive who spoke on condition of anonymity, ''they'll be calling for 'Grace.' '' BILL CARTER
An Article from entertainment Weekly
Sad fall for ''Grace Under Fire''
September 12, 1997 at 04:00 AM EDT
Here’s an idea for a sitcom sure to pull ABC out of its ratings slump: a mercurial TV star who keeps rehabilitation centers on retainer, berates her coworkers, and parades around the set like a demonic diva. An added bonus: It would be a cheap show for the network to produce. All ABC would have to do is take a camera and go behind the scenes of its troubled sitcom Grace Under Fire.
Regrettably, no one at the network is laughing. On Aug. 27, a spokesman for Carsey-Werner, Grace‘s production company, confirmed that the show’s star, Brett Butler, 39, had once again entered rehab at an undisclosed treatment facility for what the company describes as a dependency on painkillers. (Last October, Butler received outpatient treatment at an unnamed institution for the same problem.) No one is giving details on what precipitated this new stint, but production on Grace has shut down. Although the show isn’t on ABC’s fall schedule, it had received a 25-episode order from the network as a mid-season replacement.
The development not only represents a telling blow for producers Carsey-Werner but also marks another step in the spectacular collapse of a series that only three years ago was a top 10 hit. Of course, trouble on Grace is hardly news: Butler’s clashes with her backstage collaborators have given the show five different executive producers in five years. But Butler’s erratic behavior first came into full view for many last season. While neither ABC nor Butler’s spokeswoman, Lisa Kasteler, would comment for this story, a number of people connected with the show say the nadir came during the production of ABC’s Vegas Night. That February sweeps stunt called for characters from Grace to travel to Las Vegas and interact with casts from the network’s other Wednesday-night comedies — Coach, Ellen, and The Drew Carey Show.
First, according to sources at ABC and the other series involved, Butler refused to fly with the other casts, demanding and receiving a chartered jet from ABC to make the 45-minute flight from L.A. to Las Vegas. Then she kept the other casts waiting at least two hours to film their joint scenes — a delay that, according to a network executive, cost ABC hundreds of thousands of dollars. The reaction of the other productions’ staffs to Butler’s behavior was a sobering experience for the Grace gang. ”The other crews were horrified with what we put up with,” says one ex-Grace staffer. ”We were used to it. It’s like being an abused kid — you get used to the hits.” Afterward, the crew of Drew Carey were given ”I Survived Brett” T-shirts by the show’s producers.
Butler’s backstage antics also resulted in some on-air fallout. Before the season began, Jon Paul Steuer, the then-12-year-old actor who had played Grace‘s son Quentin on the show, abruptly quit. People familiar with the situation say his parents felt Butler’s behavior was detrimental to his well-being. According to printed reports (and confirmed by a number of people close to the show), Butler hiked up her skirt and flashed her bosom in front of Steuer. (His spokesperson declines to comment.) Once the season ended, actress Julie White, who played Grace‘s best friend Nadine, also gave her notice. White’s lawyer, Peter Martin Nelson, says, ”Julie felt it was time to move on and do other things.” But network and production execs say White, like Steuer, had grown tired of Butler. ”It’s awfully difficult to play her best friend when you don’t get along in real life,” says a production source. Regarding the cast moves, a Carsey-Werner spokesman will only say, ”They both wanted to pursue other opportunities.”
An Article from The LA Times
Why 'Grace' Tumbled Under Fire
Television: Brett Butler's behavior and the production company's lack of control are cited by some as reasons the once-golden sitcom is going off the air.
February 17, 1998|BRIAN LOWRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER
"Grace Under Fire" vaulted into prime time's Top 10 its first season and tied "Frasier" for the People's Choice Award as favorite new comedy series. Yet though the latter continues to amass accolades in its fifth year, the former exits ABC's schedule after tonight with barely a whimper.
As recently as three years ago, "Grace" and its star, Brett Butler, appeared to be on top of the world, moored in the coveted berth after "Home Improvement." Its rapid decline thus represents a case study of how a candidate to become television's next golden goose was allowed to lay such an egg. As one alumnus of the series put it, "You'd have to look pretty hard to find a show that went from No. 3 to off the air faster than that."
Sources attribute the show's demise principally to Butler's erratic behavior, augmented by the reluctance of the production company, Carsey-Werner, to address those problems until it became too late to rectify them.
Production on "Grace Under Fire" halted in October 1996, when Butler sought treatment for what was reported to be an addiction to painkillers, and again last August when she apparently suffered a relapse. Work on the show ceased for good a month ago, just 14 episodes into this year's 25-episode order.
At the time of the latest break, Carsey-Werner issued a statement saying, "We have decided to suspend production on 'Grace Under Fire' so that Brett [Butler] may have time to resolve personal issues."
Though the company held out hope of resuming production then, there is tacit agreement that the program's run is over. Both ABC and Carsey-Werner declined comment.
Networks wait eagerly to find series with the ratings potential of "Grace Under Fire," which retained more of "Home Improvement's" audience than anything else that's followed the Tim Allen hit. During the 1994-95 season, nearly 90% of those who watched "Home Improvement" stayed around to watch "Grace."
As recently as two seasons ago, the series still ranked No. 11 among prime-time programs, averaging nearly 21 million viewers a week. This year, the audience has dwindled to not much more than half that, though based on the general decline in network viewing, the show still might have survived minus the aggravation and tumult that went with it.
Some of those who worked on "Grace Under Fire," speaking on condition of anonymity, blame Carsey-Werner for letting the situation get out of hand. Others say that in light of what they characterized as Butler's self-destructive actions, there was little anyone could do to prevent the show from imploding.
In a 1996 autobiography, "Knee Deep in Paradise," Butler acknowledged a stormy history that included drug abuse and alcoholism in her youth. She also admitted to clashes with producers as she sought, she said, to protect her vision for the show.
Butler's publicist, Lisa Kasteler, said the comedian had no comment regarding the series or her plans. Those associated with the show past and present expressed hope that Butler would receive help, with one source speaking for many by calling the experience "just a shame for everyone involved."
Carsey-Werner has been one of television's most reliable hit factories, responsible for "Roseanne," "3rd Rock From the Sun," "Cybill" and Bill Cosby's last two prime-time series, including his current CBS sitcom.
Still, the company also developed a reputation for allowing stars to control their programs, often at the expense of the writer-producers. In fact, another Carsey-Werner show, the CBS comedy "Cybill," is also considered unlikely to return next season, with some feeling that the program's audience decline has corresponded with star Cybill Shepherd asserting more creative influence.
"Grace Under Fire" premiered in September 1993. Despite the show's commercial success, there was discord behind the scenes early in its run, prompting series creator Chuck Lorre to leave after the first season. A parade of writers has passed through since, with a new executive producer every year.
"Nothing I could do was going to make Brett happy," Lorre said in an interview last September. "The show was No. 2 [in the ratings], and she wasn't happy."
Continuing into its second season, "Grace" still looked like a major hit, dominating its time period even after ABC moved the show in April 1995 from behind "Home Improvement" to a night-anchoring position at 9 p.m. Wednesdays.
Carsey-Werner subsequently sold the rerun rights to local TV stations, and ABC gave the series a two-season renewal, ensuring that the program would reach the minimum 100 episodes needed to air in syndication Monday through Friday (a total of 112 have been produced).
"It didn't really matter from that point on," said a former writer, who described Carsey-Werner's attitude as, "Everything is just a problem to be overcome until we get to 100 episodes."
Carsey-Werner officials have maintained privately that Butler's well-being--not reaching 100 episodes--was their foremost priority. In an interview last fall, co-founder Tom Werner also called charges that the company affords its stars too much creative latitude "ridiculous," saying, "We always try to do what we think is best for the show."
Nevertheless, the task of keeping "Grace" going became increasingly problematic. Production sources say Butler wouldn't follow scripts, forcing producers to cobble together episodes from whatever footage was usable.
Because of those logistical hurdles, the show began taping frequently without a studio audience. Two regular cast members--Jon Paul Steuer, who played the Butler character's son; and Julie White, who co-starred as her friend Nadine--asked for and secured release from the series.
Matters deteriorated further this season. Sources from the show report that Butler threw a soda can at executive producer Tom Straw, who asked executives to provide him a bodyguard. They also said Butler insulted Straw in front of a stunned studio audience, using extremely crude terms.
From a creative standpoint, insiders feel "Grace Under Fire" veered away from its focus on the day-to-day struggles of a single working mother. While Roseanne's public flaps kept her name in the tabloids, her program's content remained relatively unscathed by such distractions until its final few seasons. On "Grace," producers say, turning out coherent episodes became a major challenge.
ABC hurt the show's ratings last season by moving it to 8 p.m. Wednesdays from its original 9 p.m. slot. As a further sign of its waning confidence, ABC renewed the show for this season but left the program off its fall schedule, holding it in reserve. Even the 100th episode--usually a cause for parties and a flurry of congratulatory ads in the Hollywood trade papers--went largely ignored when the show returned in November.
Producers who worked on "Grace Under Fire," meanwhile, have discussed a get-together once the current TV season concludes to share war stories. And hit-starved ABC can only hope one or more of the three comedies joining its lineup in March will emulate "Grace's" early performance--at least, up to a point.
An Article About ABC Canceling Grace Under Fire
The Fire Goes Out Under Grace
17 February 1998 (StudioBriefing)
Only three years ago, Grace Under Fire was one of television's top-rated and promising TV series. It will leave television tonight in 62nd place, the Los Angeles Times observed today, the apparent victim of star Brett Butler's erratic behavior. "You'd have to look pretty hard to find a show that went from No. 3 to off-the-air faster than that, " an unnamed alumnus of the series told the Times. Other former members of the production team fault producers Carsey-Werner for failing to take steps to deal with Butler's conduct. The newspaper cited one incident this season in which Butler threw a soda can at exec producer Tom Straw during filming and another in which she insulted him in front of the studio audience. Butler is reportedly undergoing treatment for alcohol and drug abuse.
An Article from Newswire
Newswire Grace Under Fire star Brett Butler is homeless now
by Sean O'Neal November 18, 2011
Long before Charlie Sheen, another actor was ousted from a Chuck Lorre-created sitcom for their contentious behavior and rampant drug abuse Brett Butler, who went from being touted as the obvious successor to Roseanne Barr with her Golden Globe-nominated starring role in ABC's Grace Under Fire, to being touted as the obvious successor to Roseanne Barr with her reputation for being a diva and fighting with a revolving door of producers (including Lorre) and being sort of a crazy person. Now Butler has revealed just how far she fell after her frequent stints in rehab led to her show's cancellation, telling Entertainment Tonight that she's been living in a homeless shelter. People certainly were less forgiving of difficult drug addicts back in the 90s.
While retracing the steps that led her from living in an L.A. mansion to her current digs, Butler lamented all the days she spent making someone's day miserable over the choice of a word in a 22-minute show, or how a lot of times, I'd be an ass and didn't even think I was. Like, I'd call my managers and go, 'There's a white limo out here for an awards show,' and he'd say, 'Don't get in it. And he should have said, 'You ungrateful cracker, go get in the car. Go to the show, and they'll drop you out back.'" Instead, Butler says, she spent most of her salad days standing up her cracker-limo to do everything but crack and needles pretty much, to the point where ABC finally canceled her series and now here we are.
Though she admits she feels like an old dog Butler says she's attempting a comeback based on returning to stand-up comedy, as well as developing a reality TV show about her self-professed psychic abilities though of course, one might question a psychic who somehow failed to see that she would end up like this if she didn't knock it off. Anyway, this is all pretty depressing. [via THR]
To Read Charles Hallahan's Obituary go to http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=8rYcAAAAIBAJ&sjid=SS4EAAAAIBAJ&dq=charles%20hallahan%20dies&pg=2822%2C457239
Here is Peggy Rea's Obituary from The New York Times
Peggy Rea, TV Actress With Matronly Aura, Dies at 89
By DANIEL E. SLOTNIK
Published: February 11, 2011
Peggy Rea, a matronly actress who had supporting roles on popular television series from the 1970s to the 90s, died on Saturday at her home in Toluca Lake, Calif. She was 89.
The cause was complications of heart failure, Kimmie Burks, a friend, said.
Ms. Rea played Rose Burton, Olivia Walton's cousin, on The Waltons ; Lulu Hogg, Boss Hogg's wife, on The Dukes of Hazzard ; and Jean Kelly, the mother-in-law of Brett Butler's character, on Grace Under Fire. Ms. Rea's first role on television was as a nurse on I Love Lucy in 1953. She also appeared on All in the Family, Step by Step and Gunsmoke, among other shows.
Peggy Jane Rea was born March 31, 1921, in Los Angeles. She left the University of California, Los Angeles, to attend business school, then took a job as a production secretary at MGM.
In 1947 she moved to New York to act on stage. She appeared on Broadway twice in 1950: as Eunice Hubbell in a revival of A Streetcar Named Desire and in the Cole Porter musical Out of This World. She gave up acting for a time and worked as a production secretary on Gunsmoke and other television shows in Los Angeles.
Ms. Rea returned to acting full time in 1962. Her film credits include parts in 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964) and In Country (1989).
Ms. Burks said no immediate family members survive.
Here is Jon Paul Steuer's Obituary
By Matthew Singer |
Published January 2 Updated January 2, 2018
Longtime Portland musician Jon Steuer, better known in the local punk scene as Jonny P. Jewels, has died, according to multiple reports on social media. He was 33 years old.
A cause of death has not yet been confirmed.
Born in Escondido, Calif., Steuer was a child actor whose credits include the children's sports comedy Little Giants and Star Trek: The Next Generation, where he portrayed Worf's son. He had a starring role on the '90s sitcom Grace Under Fire, but the experience caused him to quit acting at the age of 12.
"I had never really gotten into acting for the stardom or the fame or the attention," he told The AV Club in 2015. "I did it because I liked acting. That show brought a lot of press and attention around me and my personal life. I was right on the cusp of puberty, going through that awkward stage. To be put under a microscope like that is kind of a bizarre addition to your life that obviously not a lot of other people can relate to. "
In 2003, Steuer moved to Denver, where he formed his best-known band, power-pop outfit the Soda Pop Kids. Two years later, the group relocated to Portland. Described as "good, rough, trashy fun" by AllMusic, the Kids earned comparisons to fellow garage-rock throwbacks Exploding Hearts. Steuer, in particular, gained a reputation as a charismatic frontman.
"Jewels instantly understood the jerry-rigged catwalk's potential, landing a twirling leap four feet from the stage just as a climactic beat crashed home," Willamette Week contributor Jay Horton wrote in 2008, reviewing a Soda Pop Kids performance at a rock'n'roll fashion show. "Some people, as they say, don't do fashion. Some people are fashion."
After the Soda Pop Kids broke up in 2009, Steuer went on to play with several other projects, most recently the punk band P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S. with former Pierced Arrows drummer Kelly Halliburton.
In 2015, Steuer opened Harvest at the Bindery, a vegan restaurant in Northeast Portland. He also DJ'd around town, frequently at Star Bar.
P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S. were scheduled to perform this Friday at Crystal Ballroom in a tribute show for the late Fred Cole.
Am Article from the Blast
‘Star Trek’ & ‘Little Giants’ Star Died of Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound
June 11, 2018 at 12:05 am PDT
Jon Paul Steuer, a former child star and musician, took his own life at the beginning of the year and, unfortunately, his death was ruled a suicide.
In early January, news broke that the 33-year-old “Little Giants” star died in Portland on New Year’s Day, but the cause of his death was unclear. The Blast spoke with Portland Police and we’re told Steuer’s death was ruled a suicide.
As for the manner, officials revealed, “Steuer died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
The actor rose to fame in the 90s with several memorable roles, such as Johnny Vennaro in the pee-wee football classic, “Little Giants,” and a regular role as Quentin Kelly on “Grace Under Fire.”
Perhaps his best-known role was that of a young Alexander Rozhenko, Worf’s Klingon son on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
Back in January, Steurer’s band P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S. wrote a heartfelt message and revealed that their lead singer, Johnny Jewels, had passed away.
It is with heavy hearts and saddened minds that we announce the passing of our dear friend and singer Jonny Jewels, AKA Jon Paul Steuer. The addition of Jonny to our dysfunctional band family was one of the best choices that we have ever made, and he brought a much needed sense of fun and lightheartedness to everything we did. He was only with us for a little more than a year, but we managed to cram a lifetime of great experiences into his tenure as our singer: dozens shows at home in Portland and across several states, an amazing European tour, and our best full-length release yet.
We've lost our singer, but far, far more than that we've lost a friend.
Rest in peace, Jonny...we love you.
Jon Paul Steuer March 27, 1984 - January 1, 2018
Although Steurer’s death this year was before other stars like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, it shines a tragic light once again on the increasing suicide epidemic in society.
A recent report by the CDC claimed suicide rates have risen “nearly 30%” in the U.S. since 1999, and cite mental health conditions as a key factor.
If you or anyone you know is dealing with suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help.
To read some articles about Grace Under Fire go to http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=z_FHAAAAIBAJ&sjid=HgANAAAAIBAJ&dq=grace%20under%20fire%20brett%20butler&pg=1068%2C3608741 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Fj1SAAAAIBAJ&sjid=_jYNAAAAIBAJ&dq=grace%20under%20fire%20brett%20butler&pg=3165%2C1062134 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=dJZQAAAAIBAJ&sjid=EhMEAAAAIBAJ&dq=grace%20under%20fire%20brett%20butler&pg=6871%2C128547 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=SJlfAAAAIBAJ&sjid=fDEMAAAAIBAJ&dq=grace%20under%20fire%20brett%20butler&pg=5836%2C3038118 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=T1QgAAAAIBAJ&sjid=fM8EAAAAIBAJ&dq=grace%20under%20fire%20brett%20butler&pg=6698%2C2030443 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=T1QgAAAAIBAJ&sjid=fM8EAAAAIBAJ&dq=grace%20under%20fire%20brett%20butler&pg=6698%2C2030443 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=r-5LAAAAIBAJ&sjid=4OwDAAAAIBAJ&dq=grace%20under%20fire%20brett%20butler&pg=4822%2C5180705
To watch some clips from Grace Under Fire go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=grace+under+fire&aq=f
For Tim's TV Showcase go to https://web.archive.org/web/20020210025213/http://www.timstvshowcase.com/grace.html
For Grace Under Fire's Paramount Stations Page go to https://web.archive.org/web/19990822182746/http://www.paramountstations.com:80/common/shows/grace_under_fire/
For a look at a 4-way Crossover go to http://www.poobala.com/vivavegas.html
For a Brett Butler Profile go to https://web.archive.org/web/20020203023313/http://www.comediansusa.com:80/female/butler_brett.html
For an interview with Brett Butler go to http://www.dpatrickmiller.com/fsBButler.htm
For some Grace Under Fire-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/shows/grace-under-fire
For a review of Grace Under Fire go to
To watch the original opening credits and the later opening and closing credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Y1IAPBvL_M and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycxPh2hYNjg
� Date: Tue February 24, 2009 � Filesize: 52.1kb � Dimensions: 510 x 648 �
Keywords: Grace Under Fire: Cast Photo (Links Updated 7/29/18)