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Grown Ups aired from August 1999 until September 2000 on UPN.
This Chicago-based comedy centered on Calvin ( Jaleel White, formerly Steve Urkel of Family Matters), a young marketing executive who left his boring job with a corrugated box company to try his hand at intergetters, a small internet company. A daydreamer who was looking for a new image , he changed his first name to Jay, because it sounded cooler than Calvin. Jay's chunky best friend Gordon (Dave Ruby), an associate with a law firm, lived in the same apartment building. Other featured cast members were Shari ( Marissa Ribisi), Gordon's perky wife; Marcus ( Bumper Robinson), an arrogant attorney who worked with Gordon; and Melissa ( Tammy Townsend), Jay's new girlfriend. When she returned from a business trip just before Thanksgiving their relationship had deteriorated and they broke up-but vowed to remain friends. In February Jay quit his job to become marketing director for Celuron, a maker of computer games. Logan ( Derek Hughes)the eccentric, child-like genius who had started the companyliked him-which could not be said for Rodney Carruthers ( Patrick Bristow) , the obnoxious business type who did all the administrative work and resented Jay's arrival.
In the series finale Jay ran into Melissa and mistakenly thought she was getting married the following Saturday. Afraid to lose her, he proposed, but after she accepted, he found out that she wasn't the one engaged. As the scene ended To Be Continued flashed on the screen-but since the show had been canceled there was no resolution.
An Article from The New York Times
COVER STORY; Jaleel White ('Don't Call Me Urkel') Grows Up
By CHRISTOPHER NOXON
Published: August 22, 1999
Jaleel White is uneasy talking about the character he played for nearly 10 years on network television. In fact, he'd rather not talk at all about the little polka-loving dweeb called Urkel. The character's name alone -- goofy and guttural, an instant buzzword for all things nerdy -- makes him wince visibly.
''I let him die,'' Mr. White, 22, said one recent morning on the patio of a Beverly Hills hotel. ''I've got a mental tombstone for that character. I've got lots of flowers around it, but that boy is dead.''
Still, it won't be easy to erase the memory of the character, who surely ranks as one of television's more vivid sitcom creations.
Jaleel White had made appearances on ''The Jeffersons'' and the pilot of ''Saved by the Bell'' before auditioning at age 12 for a guest spot on the ABC program ''Family Matters,'' appearing before producers in tight suspenders, trousers cut off at mid-shin and an enormous pair of plastic eyeglasses that framed his darting, googly eyes. He moved around the sound stage in jerks and jolts and spoke in a voice so high-pitched and nasal that it hovered several registers above that of anyone else who dared inhabit the same scene. Steve Urkel was born.
The guest spot grew into a starring role, leading the Friday night sitcom to an astonishing nine seasons on ABC and CBS, ranking alongside ''Seinfeld'' for longevity. At the peak of the program's popularity, this Cosmo Kramer for the schoolyard set had a breakfast cereal, an ABC special and legions of fans. When the end finally came in 1997, long after Mr. White had grown out of the twiggy five-foot frame in which he began, ''Family Matters'' vanished with hardly a peep, its final episodes broadcast in the Nielsen dead zone of July.
Two years later Mr. White is returning to prime-time television in a most unlikely package. Few will recognize him in the opening scene of his new UPN sitcom, the cannily titled ''Grown-Ups.'' The getup is gone, as is the voice. Instead we meet a bulked-up fellow in a tank top and Air Jordans who shoots hoops and makes quirky asides to a pudgy sidekick. As J. Calvin Frasier, a frustrated junior manager in a corrugated-box company, Mr. White is playing the sort of young man who if faced with the Uber-nerd Urkel would be likely to administer a quick and expert wedgie.
But even with the gym-enhanced physique, Mr. White knows he will have to work hard to make audiences forget about the part that made him famous. ''Until you break your Vinnie Barbarino, Mork mode that's what you are,'' he says of the television roles at the beginnings of the careers of John Travolta and Robin Williams. ''The bottom line is that the studio machine had a lot invested in Urkel,'' he says. ''They sold that character for a decade. You think you can go out and break that in a year? No way.''
Studio executives at UPN don't mind one bit if the scent of Urkel clings to the buffed-up White. Peter Noonan, president of entertainment at UPN, says that while the association may not do much for the struggling network's ''cool factor,'' Mr. White had nothing to be embarrassed about.
'Watching him play that part over the years was like watching Jerry Lewis or Groucho Marx, or dare I say Charlie Chaplin at times: it was perfectly realized,'' Mr. Noonan said. ''Urkel was a very successfully rendered character and a lot of people have a lot of affection for him.''
Mr. White is not one of those people. Shortly after ''Family Matters'' was canceled, Mr. White told a reporter, ''If you ever see me do that character again, take me out and put a bullet in my head and put me out of my misery.''
That bitterness grew from his feeling, long before the show ended, that he had wholly outgrown his inner Urkel, Mr. White said. In his senior year at the University of California at Los Angeles he is a film student and avid jock, closely following pro and college basketball and hanging out with Anfernee Hardaway, backcourt for the Phoenix Suns. His speech is fast and colorful -- ''Some mango would be the bomb,'' he tells a waitress at the Four Seasons Hotel -- and his abilities as a performer, he says, extend far beyond geekdom.
And while he enjoyed the perks of starring in a long-running network show, Mr. White said he was more than happy to leave behind the life of the child star. ''You never get credit for what you do: you get chalked up to being cute or cuddly,'' he says. ''And you're never treated like your adult counterparts. They come along and get production deals and do other shows. And with a child, it's like, 'Send him a bike.' ''
Is it any surprise that the man behind Urkel just wants a little respect? To make sure he gets it, Mr. White said, he told UPN that he would appear in ''Grown-Ups'' only if he could also produce, working alongside the series creator, Matthew Miller. At first the involvement of the former child star was not exactly greeted with enthusiasm by Mr. Miller, a 27-year-old screenwriter who had sold ''Grown-Ups'' as an hourlong dramedy, a sort of ''Ally McBeal' for guys.
''I got a phone call telling me that 'Grown-Ups' was getting picked up, but as a half-hour, multi-camera show starring Urkel,'' said Mr. Miller. ''I immediately hung up the phone. That was my big artistic stance. It lasted about 15 minutes.''
Mr. Miller said his doubts eased when Mr. White came in for a reading. ''He's totally charming,'' Mr. Miller said. ''His timing makes it so easy to write for him. You just give him the suggestion of a joke, and he nails it.''
Mr. White hopes that audiences will feel the same way once they see him performing a regular guy role, in pants that fit. He's counting on many viewers' not making the Urkel association at all.
''A lot of times parents will see me on the street, grab their kids, pull them over and say: 'Look, look! Urkel!' he says. ''And the kids just look at me, like, 'Huh?' I can't tell you how happy that makes me. At this point, it's very rewarding not to be recognized.''
A Review From The New York Times
TELEVISION REVIEW; Mittyesque Daydreams And a Nice Business Suit
By RON WERTHEIMER
Published: August 23, 1999
The show is called ''Grown-Ups.'' Its star, 22-year-old Jaleel White, has clearly filled up and out since his days as the geeky Steve Urkel on ''Family Matters,'' a role he began at 12. But just in case anybody still doesn't get the message, early in the first episode Mr. White's character, Calvin, says to his lifelong buddy, Gordon (Dave Ruby), ''We're not kids anymore.'' Duly noted.
Despite all these protestations to the contrary, however, there is more than a little of the young Urkel in the not-so-old Calvin. Sure, Mr. White has shed the nasal honk, eyeglasses, suspenders and ill-fitting clothes. But inside his well-tailored business suit, he is still the goodhearted misfit, a guy who still can't figure out why everybody else seems to be having much more fun than he is.
''Grown-Ups,'' which begins its run on UPN tonight, is a likably gentle sitcom. Nearly every cog in its clockworks has been borrowed from another show. Even the character of Calvin, the very-junior executive who can't quite believe he has landed in the business world, isn't very far from the role played on ''Working'' by Fred Savage, another performing puppy who is publicly growing into his paws.
This show's promise lies in its casting and curlicues rather than its concept. As the schlumpy Gordon, Mr. Ruby strikes the right note of anguish, especially when he takes up his grievances directly with God like some sort of contemporary Tevye. Gordon's wife, Shari (Marissa Ribisi), is a combination of sultry and ditzy. (Imagine Madonna as portrayed by Carol Kane.) Couples like this live only in the sitcom universe. But these two performers seem ready to put a new spin on the convention.
In the busy first episode, Calvin finds a new roommate, Shari's friend Robin, played by Soleil Moon Frye, who used to be a child, too, and when she was, played the title role in the series ''Punky Brewster.'' (Can't you see these roomies inviting Mr. Savage over for an evening of swapping nasty stories about Rick Schroder?)
There's also the subplot about Calvin's simmering crush on a high school classmate who now dates Gordon's colleague. That opens the way for another curlicue, Calvin's Walter Mittyesque daydreams.
This show, with its snippet of invention and its teaspoonful of charm, could become a keeper. It seems to know one truth: You never totally outgrow your inner Urkel.
UPN, tonight at 8:30
(Channel 9 in New York)
Alan Haymon and Jonathan Prince, executive producers; Matthew Miller, co-executive producer; Jaleel White, producer. Written by Mr. Miller. Directed by John Whitesell. A production of Columbia Tristar Television.
WITH: Jaleel White (J. Calvin Frazier), Dave Ruby (Gordon Hammel), Marissa Ribisi (Shari Hammel) and Soleil Moon Frye ( Robin)
A Review from the New York Daily News
JALEEL COMES OF AGE NEW SITCOM'S FIRST OUT OF FALL STARTING GATE
BY David Bianculli
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, August 23, 1999, 12:00 AM
In tonight's premiere episode of UPN's "Grown Ups," the first new fall TV series to be unveiled this year, Dave Ruby's Gordon makes a telling remark to his long-time best friend, Calvin, played by Jaleel White. "You say you're a grownup," he says, "but you haven't changed in 10 years.
" That may be true of Calvin, but White is another matter altogether. Ten years ago, White burst upon the TV scene in a small supporting role as Steve Urkel, the African-American super-nerd on "Family Matters.
" For a decade, White played Urkel in an increasingly absurd state of denial still playing the timid little kid, with shrunken clothes and awkward demeanor, even though White himself had matured into a tall, deep-voiced young adult. In "Grown Ups" (8:30 p.m., WWOR/Ch. 9), White gets to show how much he has changed. Instead of playing prime-time TV's arrested-development poster child, he now gets to act his age. He sports a pencil mustache, and instead of wearing geeky clothes and acting clumsy, he shoots hoops and wears basketball shorts and shorts with cut-off sleeves. So for White, this new role and series must be a big relief. Unfortunately, it's less of a relief to witness it. Except for a cute "Ally McBeal"-style fantasy sequence tacked on to the opening credits (think "Ghost," but with ground beef instead of wet clay), "Grown Ups" is a standard "Friends"-type sitcom. Except that "Friends" is funny. White's Calvin is a single guy working in a big city, with some good-buddy neighbors (Ruby's Gordon and his wife, Marissa Ribisi's Shari), a romantic rival (Bumper Robinson's Marcus), and a potential new roommate (Soleil Moon Frye, having outgrown her own childish TV role on "Punky Brewster"). The bad news: neither Robinson nor Frye, both of whom add bits of charm to tonight's pilot, will be hanging around for subsequent episodes. Clearly, "Grown Ups" will rise or fall on White's shoulders. This time, at least, those shoulders are adorned by clothes that fit.
A Review by The New York Post
URKEL AND SEX JUST SOUNDS FUNNY
Tonight at 8:30 on WWOR/Ch.9
By Michele Greppi
August 23, 1999 | 4:00am
STEVE Urkel is spinning in his TV grave.
Jaleel White is back in prime time as a young man who has lesbian fantasies and uses genteel epithets as often as the nerdy Urkel used to daydream about the lovely Laura on “Family Matters.”
“Grown Ups” won’t make White an adult star, but at least it puts him back on TV’s radar screen.
White remains a genuinely likeable presence, even when he’s in something that can’t make the same claim.
“Grown Ups” doesn’t live up to its title, in spite of sticking a toe in the shallow end of what has become a sea of smutcoms.
White plays Calvin White, newly promoted to lower-lower management at a corrugated box company, the core character in a diverse group of twentysomething friends who live in Chicago proper and hang out at The Horny Frog restaurant.
Calvin’s high school crush Felicia (Gabrielle Union) waltzes back into his life on the arm of Marcus (Bumper Robinson), the slick office nemesis of Calvin’s longtime best friend Gordon (Dave Ruby), a klutzy pudgy lawyer whose wife Shari (Marissa Ribisi) is going to help Calvin find a much-needed new roommate by passing him off as gay to her friend Robin (Soleil Moon Frye).
When Robin makes a vague reference to having sexual preference in common with Calvin, he leaps to the conclusion that she’s lesbian.
Oh, the possibilities for misunderstanding, miscommunication and other misguided attempts at sitcom hijinks and hilarity and immature attempts at adult dialogue.
Calvin waits until he and Robin and a little old lady are sharing an elevator to ask Robin’s advice on making a woman happy.
“Truth be told, I do have a few weak links in my repertoire,” he says.
“Where, exactly, is the G spot? … Don’t get me wrong. I know the zipcode, I just can’t find the exact address … I kinda keep circling the block.”
As it appears this comedy, not the worst ever offered by UPN, will unless it finds itself circling the Nielsen drain.
But if it doesn’t boost White’s star, at least it gets him back where he can be seen.
A Review from Time Magazine
Monday, Aug. 30, 1999
By JAMES PONIEWOZIK
Here's a small comfort in the era of prime-time segregation: a show that proves black and white actors can make mediocre yuppie-relationship comedies together, just as they can separately. Jaleel White (formerly Family Matters' Steve Urkel) and buddies are--like much of the demo-targeted population of sitcom America--adjusting to postcollegiate life as urbane young men and women, though the only real evidence of this is that they drink wine, smoke cigars and talk on cell phones. Their gay-and-lesbian-obsessed sex banter is still firmly stuck in high school.
--By James Poniewozik
A Review From Teevee.org
Fall '99: "Grown Ups" and "The Parkers"
by James Collier September 20, 1999
"Grown Ups": In my sick and twisted mind, I've always amused myself with the idea that there was a Society for the Advancement of Type-casted Actors. Bob Denver would be the president, Gavin McLeod the vice president, Adam West the treasurer, Burt Ward the secretary, and Gary Coleman would pull down sergeant-at-arms duties.
I imagine them convening at a Denny's in West Hollywood, collecting dues, debating career revivial strategies, and discussing potential new members. I mention this only because if there was ever a guy who was a first-ballot lock for membership, it would be Jaleel White, Urkel from Family Matters.
I never honestly thought I'd hear from that guy again after Family Matters sank beneath the sea. I surely didn't think he'd be an actor who'd could actually pull off the amazing feat of having a hit show on the UPN. And yet there White is, the star of UPN's Grown Ups -- suave, cut like a Chippendale, adeptly playing a young twentysomething coping with the trials and travails of adulthood on a show that is getting decent ratings. And furthermore, Grown Ups isn't half-bad.
I didn't think I'd be writing that, either.
I'm not going to stand here and proclaim this is the second coming of Seinfeld. It's not. But White proves that as adept as he was in playing the wacky Urkel, he is also adept at humor that is a bit more subtle. You can probably miss an episode of this show and you won't be missing anything particulary groundbreaking. But if you were like me, looking forward to a car wreck of a sitcom, this isn't it.
Which is really too bad, because I really think Bob Denver is running his organization into the ground.
For more on Grown Ups go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grown_Ups_(1999_TV_series)
A rumor was spread around the internet that Jaleel White was dead...well he's not...to read more go to https://web.archive.org/web/20070105062209/http://www.tvsquad.com/2006/06/03/jaleel-white-is-not-dead/
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCnN4LwK7fU
� Date: Tue May 1, 2012 � Filesize: 115.2kb � Dimensions: 710 x 424 �
Keywords: Dave Ruby, Jaleel White Marissa Ribisi (Links Updated 7/29/18)