Poster: Mr. Television
(see this users gallery)
Crumbs aired from January until February 2006 on ABC.
Nutty families may be the norm in sitcoms , but in this one , Mom really was " crazy." Hollywood screenwriter Mitch ( Fred Savage) returned home to Connecticut when he learned that his mother , Suzanne ( Jane Curtin), was about to be released from Cedar Hill mental hospital. She'd been commited after she tried to run over his father, Billy ( William Devane), when she discovered that he was having an affair with bimbo Shelley. There were lots of asylum jokes , jumpy mom shouted " lollipops" when she was about to go off the deep end , and the Patsy Cline song " crazy" played in the background. Uptight Mitch thought of himself as the normal one in the family, but he had his own baggage, including the fact that his screenwriting career was on the rocks and he was a closet gay . Womanizing older brother Jody ( Eddie McClintock)resented him because Mitch had gone off to Hollywood to write a movie about their dead brother Patrick ( called Thicker Than Water), while Jody stayed behind to run the family restaurant . Oblivious to this sibling rivalry , Suzanne began an affair with a large black orderly from the asylum named Elvis ( Reginald Ballard), and grinning dad Billy ( now divorced) roared off on his motorcycle to be with his new squeeze and pursue a career as a masseur. Who wants to be normal?
Andrea ( Maggie Lawson) was Mitch's sensible high school pal.
A Review from Variety
(Series -- ABC, Thurs. Jan. 12, 9:30 p.m.)
By BRIAN LOWRY
Filmed in Los Angeles by Tollin/Robbins Prods. in association with Touchstone Television. Executive producers, Marco Pennette, Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins, Joe Davola; co-executive producers, Regina Stewart, Dave Walpert; producers, Jason Fisher, Shari Tavey; director, Ted Wass; writer, Pennette;
Mitch Crumb - Fred Savage
Suzanne Crumb - Jane Curtin
Billy Crumb - William Devane
Jody Crumb - Eddie McClintock
Andrea Malone - Maggie Lawson
Elvis - Reginald Ballard
Insanity and comedy have always gone hand in hand, which isn't to say that spinning mirth out of nervous breakdowns and attempted manslaughter is for everyone. Suffering from its own kind of bipolar condition, "Crumbs" tries to mine that terrain and slip-slides into absurdity -- a loud, shrill half-hour that makes hairpin turns from camp into pathos. The show's scheduling is equally strange (an ABC comedy on Thursday?), and whatever life the series can generate should owe more to "Dancing With the Stars" than any of its own gyrations.
Representing its own twist on the prodigal son's return, moved-to-Hollywood writer Mitch (Fred Savage) learns that his mom (Jane Curtin at her crazy worst) is being released from a mental hospital, so he decides to return home to their small New England town to help out. Seems she found out her husband (William Devane) is cheating on her, so she tried to run him over in her car.
Still, Mitch is hardly hailed as a conquering hero. Sure, he wrote a movie about his brother's death, but his other brother, the womanizing Jody (Eddie McClintock), is running the family restaurant and resents the hell out of him for running away.
Mitch himself isn't exactly a basketful of emotional security. Not only has his writing career foundered, but he's never worked up the gumption to inform his family that he's gay, making him fidgety at best. As such, even the supposed voice of sanity providing a window into this wacky family doesn't offer much of an anchor, much less good company.
Mostly played way over the top, "Crumbs" periodically swings back to some semblance of humanity and sobriety, but it's a jarring transition. Curtin, for example, goes from big, wild-eyed mood swings to exhibiting pain over the fact that people are laughing and gossiping about her.
From there, though, it's whoosh, and right back to the hilarity of a middle-aged woman discovering that her husband left her and has knocked up his much-younger girlfriend. And would it really be an awful comedy about mental illness without somebody having an affair with a helpful orderly?
Credit the veteran cast with making the series barely tolerable, but for the most part "Crumbs" is pretty crummy, the sitcom deconstructed to its most primordial form. Granted, ABC has gotten solid mileage out of some mediocre comedies, but if this one works -- especially with its peculiar scheduling -- then clearly, not all the lunatics are in the asylum.
A Review of Crumbs
'Crumbs' gives Savage another taste of acting
By Bridget Byrne, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES -- Fred Savage was thinking about devoting himself to directing and producing when he was offered ''Crumbs." So he's back acting.
Savage's cute-little-boy-next-door mien brought him success as wide-eyed Kevin Arnold, growing up amid '60s morals and mores on the ABC series ''The Wonder Years" (1988-93).
Less memorable is the NBC sitcom ''Working," which lasted barely two seasons in the late '90s.
Since then -- with the exception of acting in a few films including ''Austin Powers in Goldmember" -- his focus has been behind the camera, including producing and directing the kid-oriented comedy series ''Phil of the Future" on the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon's ''Drake & Josh." ''Other acting opportunities had come along, but nothing that was tantalizing enough to me to step away from what I found most interesting," says Savage, 29.
''Crumbs," an ABC sitcom about a dysfunctional family, premieres tomorrow night at 9:30, following the second installment of a new run of the summer smash ''Dancing With the Stars."
Savage says ''Crumbs" appealed to him because it didn't have ''that setup/joke pattern that has come to define sitcom. I liked that it was about the characters, about the family, and was brave enough not to have a laugh for a few pages."
As the name implies, the Crumbs are a crumbled family, who nevertheless retain affection for each other. The mother (Jane Curtin) has just been discharged from a psychiatric facility. The father (William Devane) is expecting a baby with his new girlfriend. They have suffered the death of one of their three sons, and many unspoken memories linger. Savage portrays Mitch, the gay prodigal son, who returns home from a failed Hollywood career.
The series will explore the family's varied reaction to Mitch's sexual orientation, but Savage says: ''That's not what the show is about. The show is really about family and secrets that families keep from each other, and how a family pulls itself back together after keeping so much from each other for so long."
Creator Marco Pennette has used his own family life as inspiration. ''We had a lot of tragedy and a lot of pain, and we got through it with a lot of humor," he said.
''Marco really kind of honors these characters. They are not just these made-up fictitious people, but are based very closely on his family, so I felt confident going forward that he would really respect them and not sell the show out," says Savage.
An Article from USA TODAY
It's a gay, gay world for Fred Savage
By William Keck, USA TODAY
LOS ANGELES All-grown-up Wonder Years star Fred Savage is attracting curious stares and generating wagging tongues as he walks through The Abbey, a popular gay bar in the Boys Town section of Los Angeles.
When a gay patron, Freddy Alvarez, 34, pulls Savage aside and asks: "Inquiring minds want to know. Are you here doing research?" Savage smiles politely and says, "Sort of."
But in fact, Savage requires little research for his role as gay son Mitch Crumb on ABC's new sitcom Crumbs (Thursday, 9:30 ET/PT). As residents of West Hollywood, Savage and his wife of a year and a half, Jennifer Stone, have been to The Abbey several times with gay friends.
"We love it here," says Savage, 29, sitting on the front patio with his show's gay creator/executive producer, Marco Pennette. "This is our neighborhood."
Pennette says several actors he approached for the role told him they would never play gay.
Savage initially turned down the part, too, because he says he had grown tired of traditional sitcoms (he also appeared in the 1997-99 series Working) and was focusing on directing children's programming for Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel.
But after further discussion about the show's scope, Savage signed on. Pennette pitched it to ABC as a hybrid of the '70s sitcom Soap and the film Ordinary People, and Jane Curtin (Kate & Allie) and William Devane (Knots Landing) playing Mitch's parents appealed to Savage.
Savage and Pennette happen to have an astrological connection: they were both born July 9. They celebrated together last year by attending the musical Sweeney Todd on Broadway.
Similarities between Pennette's real life and his semi-autobiographical Crumbs extend beyond Mitch's sexuality. Both the Pennettes and the Crumbs dealt with the drowning deaths of a son, a father who gets another woman pregnant and a mother's mental breakdown and institutionalization.
Savage has dealt with none of this drama in his own life.
"My life and family is fairly normal," he says.
"Bor-ing," Pennette chimes in.
"Yeah," Savage says.
"There won't be a sitcom called The Savages."
Pennette and his partner, Steve Rabiner, a TV talent manager, just celebrated their 10-year anniversary and have a 2-year-old daughter, Ally.
Pennette hopes Crumbs will continue long enough for Mitch to find similar happiness. (The show is drawing reasonable ratings on Thursdays, averaging 11.6 million viewers in its first two weeks and ranking second in its time slot to CSI, thanks in part to its strong lead-in, Dancing with the Stars.)
First the character will have to come out of the closet, which he will begin to do this spring in a manner that likely will match the dramatics surrounding Pennette's own coming out.
"I was outed in front of my family on the red carpet of the People's Choice Awards," recalls Pennette, who was there accepting an award for creating Caroline in the City. "A network executive ran up to me and started talking about my boyfriend right in front of them."
The episode in which Mitch breaks the news of his homosexuality to his mother also will introduce Illeana Douglas as Mitch's father's pregnant girlfriend. Other stars set to appear on the series: Elliott Gould as Curtin's boyfriend and Teri Garr as Gould's witchy ex-wife (who, like Garr, has multiple sclerosis). And actor Rider Strong (who played the best friend of Savage's brother, Ben, on Boy Meets World) will show up as one of Mitch's beaus.
Savage isn't concerned that the fans he acquired during the Wonder Years may be turned off by Crumbs' sexually charged humor. (In one scene, his character chats over the Internet with a man who identifies himself as WonderQueer.)
"The Wonder Years ended over 12 years ago," he says. "I think people have been very accepting to see me in other roles."
But he does admit to being disappointed about his visits to The Abbey. "I haven't once been picked up by another guy. And I feel a little bad about it."
An Article from The New York Daily News
A LIFE OF 'CRUMBS'. TV series came from own family.
BY Richard Huff
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, January 15, 2006, 12:00 AM
HOW DO YOU celebrate the birth of a child to the wife of your ex-husband? Well, if you happen to be the mother of TV producer and writer Marco Pennette, you send the new mom a raw chicken dressed in a baby outfit. Think about that for a moment. "Weird thing is, my mother, father and his wife are the best of friends now," Pennette told the Daily News. It's been decades since Pennette's mother sent the chicken. The gift, it should be noted, came after Pennette's mom - having learned her husband of three decades was having an affair - tried to mow him down with the family car. After the car incident, Pennette's mom was sent to a psychiatric hospital. She only learned her ex was becoming a dad again when she was released. If that wasn't enough trauma for a youngster growing up in Greenwich, Conn., Pennette also lost a brother in a tragic boating accident and watched as the surviving brother struggled with guilt. And, then there's Pennette's own struggle with coming out to his parents. All of these situations unfold on air as part of Pennette's ABC comedy "Crumbs," which stars Fred Savage ("The Wonder Years") as Pennette, Jane Curtin ("Saturday Night Live") as his mother and William DeVane ("Knots Landing") as his father. The show airs Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. "Writing the show was cheaper than therapy," Pennette said. "There have been a lot of couches in all of their lives.
" Pennette has been working on this story for years. After high school, he attended New York University, with an eye on writing for Broadway. He landed an internship with famed producer Hal Prince, but was intrigued with sitcom writing. He wrote a sample script for "Kate & Allie," then produced in New York and starring Curtin and Susan St. James. When Pennette dropped the script off at the show's offices, he walked out with an internship. Soon, it was goodbye Broadway and hello Los Angeles. Pennette, 39, said he has been wanting to write about his family in this way for years, but never had the chance. "We had a lot of tragedy in this house," he said. "But I still look back on my childhood and remember laughing a lot.
" A year ago, while trying to adapt "The Parent Trap" into a series for ABC, executives told him to create a show around some of the wacky stories he told in meetings about his own family. "It was the easiest, and the hardest, pilot I've ever written," said Pennette, who was behind such shows as "Caroline in the City," "I'm with Her" and "What I Like About You.
" "I know the story, I know the people, yet I'm bringing up this stuff I've repressed since I was 10 years old," he added. "I had a crappy relationship with my brother, and I'm talking about my mom leaving my dad in a painful time.
" He hired his mother to work in casting, and the rest of his family seemed to be okay with him spilling family secrets to a national TV audience. "I bought them homes before doing this," Pennette said of his parents. "It helps when you own the deed to their homes.
An Interview With Fred Savage
Fred Savage Dishes About His New Sitcom, 'Crumbs'
Jan. 31 -- After 'The Wonder Years,' Fred Savage didn't disappear from Hollywood. He just moved behind the camera as a director of shows including 'That's So Raven,' 'Kitchen Confidential' and one of the competing pilots in Bravo's 'Situation: Comedy.'
Now Savage is back in front of the camera, starring in ABC's midseason sitcom 'Crumbs' playing a gay screenwriter who returns home after failing in Hollywood. His mother (Jane Curtin) has recently been released from a psychiatric facility, his father (William Devane) has a new girlfriend and brother Jody (Eddie McClintock) is running their family restaurant.
Savage spoke with AOL Television's Kelly Woo about playing gay and the difference between a sitcom and a comedy.
I read that you initially turned down 'Crumbs.' What changed your mind?
What changed my mind was actually reading the script, which I thought was just extraordinary and, more importantly, something unique that I hadn't read in a pilot before. The tone of it, the way it balanced the comedy and drama so seamlessly, the rhythms of it, the way the comedy was presented -- it wasn't in that typical gag-a-minute pattern that's come to define TV sitcom.
In a review of the show, a TV critic called it a "sadcom." And the show does contain quite a lot of pathos.
I wouldn't necessarily say it's sad, but this is a show that's about a very fractured family that's gone through a lot of pain. The comedy comes from their pain, but at the same time, it deals with their pain in a very real way. You know, it's just not a goofy sitcom.
So you're trying to push the envelope?
A lot of people say, "Oh, the sitcom is dead." I think they're right to some extent, in that the shows they're putting out are the same. There's a rhythm that's come to define TV sitcom that we're trying to shake up a bit. We're playing it a lot more honestly. We're borrowing from the traditions that were established by shows like 'Soap' or 'All in the Family.' If you set up real characters and you care about them, the comedy is going to be that much sweeter. It'll be earned in a much more genuine way than to have goofs and gags and pratfalls.
Did you have any reservations about playing a gay character?
No, none at all. It seems very odd when everyone asks me that. I've played murderers and rapists and really horrible people and no one's ever once asked me if I've had reservations about playing those people. I liked that [Mitch] was this closeted gay man. I also thought there wasn't a gay character like that on television. This character is a lot more internal. He doesn't know how he feels about his sexuality, he doesn't necessarily want to be gay at times and he doesn't embrace that lifestyle.
Mitch will be coming out to his family soon. Can you tell me more about that?
It's not like he gets everyone together and makes this announcement. To each of the family members, he comes out in a different way. Sometimes, it's forced upon him, other times he chooses it.
Are you still directing?
Not while I'm doing 'Crumbs.' We just finished [filming], now that we're done I'll be directing more. The schedule is too busy when we're shooting. I'm going back to work for Nickelodeon and doing shows for them.
OK, we like to ask this of our Tattlers when we can. What are your five favorite shows, past or present?
Past or present? That's big. I would have to do five past and five present. Five past would be 'Cheers,' 'Mary Tyler Moore,' 'M*A*S*H,' 'The Ben Stiller Show' and, ah, gosh...
What about present?
'Grey's Anatomy,' huge favorite of ours. I have to check my [Tivo] season passes. Oh, 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.' 'Project Runway.' 'TRL.' Let's see... 'Everybody Hates Chris.'
That's another show that's not quite a regular sitcom.
It's a single-camera show. People call them sitcoms, but when I think of sitcoms, I think of your traditional multi-camera set-up. These new shows that are single-camera comedies, that's how the 'Wonder Years' was done. I wouldn't lump 'Scrubs' and 'My Name is Earl' with 'King of Queens.' I don't consider those the same kind of show. I call the multi-camera shows sitcoms, and the single-camera shows are comedies. That's just my own personal distinction.
I agree, but the word "sitcom" is just so ubiquitous.
Well, as a journalist, you can make that change!
To watch some clips from Crumbs go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=crumbs+fred+savage
For ABC's Official Website for Crumbs go to https://web.archive.org/web/20060503160548/http://abc.go.com:80/primetime/crumbs/
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idWQTYt08gA
� Date: Sun May 5, 2013 � Filesize: 101.5kb � Dimensions: 475 x 330 �
Keywords: Jane Curtin, Fred Savage & Maggie Lawson