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Ned And Stacey aired from September 1995 until January 1997 on FOX.

This was certainly a marriage made in heaven. Stacey ( Debra Messing), a writer for the Villiage Voice, was desperate for an apartment, and Ned ( Thomas Haden Church) was an arrogant, conniving executive who needed a wife to help his image at the Kirkland & Haywood Advertising Agency where he worked. In the 1st sepisode they were fixed up by her sister Amanda ( Nadia Dajani), whose neurotic husband Eric ( Greg Germann), the accountant at Kirkland & Haywood, was Ned's best friend. Despite the fact that it was despise-at-first-sight, they got married the following week-she got the spare bedroom in his fancy apartment and he got the " perfect wife" to take to company functions. After she was let go at the Voice, Stacey got a job writing for Skyward, the in-flight magazine for Dollar Jet Airlines. Ned and Stacey feuded all the time , were both dating other people( although his were a succession of one-night stands), and yet at times, almost seemed to be developing affection for each other. In the season finale, Ned fixed Stacey up with a guy she fell in love with, and when that relationship created all sorts of problems for his sham married life, he tossed her out-despite a passionate kiss just before the final " get out."

Even though they were getting divorced at the start of the 2nd season, Stacey moved back into Ned's apartment. Then Amanda convinced Ned to invest in a big real estate deal and when that fell apart, they ended up as partners ( his investment gave him 86%) in " Amanda's Muffins," a small store that gave them plenty of time to push each others buttons. The focus of the series shifted to the Ned and Amanda relationship with Stacey's role diminishing . Amanda ran the business with Ned, who was still at the ad agency but constantly butting in at the store where Nate ( Ford Rainey) was a regular customer.

A Review from Variety

Ned and Stacey
((Mon. (11), 9:30-10 p.m., Fox))

Taped in Hollywood by Hanley Prods. in association with TriStar TV. Executive producers, Michael J. Weithorn, Tony Sheehan; producer, William E. Baker; director, Andrew D. Weyman; writer, Weithorn; editor, John Veal; camera, Ken Peach; art director, Scott Heineman; sound, Brent Walton; music, Kurt Farquhar. Cast: Thomas Haden Church, Debra Messing, Nadia Dajani, Greg Germann, Harry Goz, Dori Brenner, Arthur Malet, Allan Oppenheimer, Allan Wasserman, David Chisum, Tina Arning, EricDrachman.

Though scribe Michael J. Weithorn borrows heavily from a number of popular series for this new sitcom for the Fox weblet, the storyline's shortcomings are saved by the impeccable comedic timing of Thomas Haden Church. Church trades in the maintenance-man coveralls and baseball cap he sported on NBC's "Wings" for a three-piece suit and an expense account.

Ned Dorsey (Church), a corporate con man, accomplished back-stabber and all-around human slug, is in search of a wife in order to secure a promotion. Enter Stacey Colbert (Debra Messing), a newspaper scribe so desperately in search of an apartment that she agrees to marry Ned just to get out of her parents' house. The deal has just one proviso: They can each lead their own lives.

Dorsey's capitalistic arrogance doesn't mix well with Stacey's left-wing leanings. The resulting verbal sparring matches, with each landing well-timed shots, are reminiscent of the politically charged banter between Meathead and Archie. Weithorn's witticisms are perfectly placed and add much-needed punch to a sagging plot pivot. Church makes the mundane palatable and shines with his dry delivery. Messing is equally entertaining, and her chemistry with Church aids in keeping the action brisk. Director Andrew D. Weyman lets his cast run; a top-notch supporting cast rounds out the show.

A Review from Entertainment Weekly

TV Review
MARRY PRANKSTERS (1997 - 1997)

By Ken Tucker

To judge by the new back-to-back sitcoms PARTNERS (Fox, Mondays, 9-9:30 p.m.) and NED AND STACEY (Fox, Mondays, 9:30-10 p.m.), marriage is one of the trickier things to pull off nowadays. Hence both of these shows offer a twist on the institution. In Partners, Jon Cryer stars as Bob, a guy whose best friend, Owen (Tate Donovan), will soon be wedded to Alicia (Maria Pitillo). Bob's taking it pretty hard. A pushy shlub whose own luck with women has been bad, Bob has attached himself to Owen like a leech, which makes for a certain amount of competition with Alicia.

In Ned and Stacey, Wings' Thomas Haden Church is Ned, a bachelor advertising executive who one day just up and marries a stranger, Stacey (Debra Messing, NYPD Blue's Dana Abandando), because he thinks he'll get an upcoming promotion if he looks like a settled fellow with a wife. For her part, Stacey agrees becauseellipsewell, because Ned has a great apartment and she's looking to move away from her overbearing parents.

It's not being too mean to say that both Partners and Ned and Stacey are shows conceived in cynicism and redeemed by talent. These series lift the breezy, bantering tone of television's currently most imitated shows -- Friends and Seinfeld -- and add the element of matrimony to distinguish themselves from the sources they're ripping off. Fortunately, each also has a distinctive element. In Partners' case it's director James Burrows (Cheers, Friends), who manages to freshen the dowdy look and pace of this show (it occasionally plays like a 30-year-old Neil Simon comedy) by giving the actors funny bits of staging and surprising line interpretations. (Burrows will direct a half-dozen episodes.)

In Ned and Stacey, the big plus is the performance of Church, whose smart, smug Ned couldn't be more removed from the dumb mechanic he played on Wings. It's really difficult to turn a smarmy guy into a likable protagonist, but Church pulls it off here; you root for Ned because, in addition to getting all the good punchlines, he's easily the most intelligent, energetic person on screen.

Both shows also benefit from unexpected subtexts. Partners, for example, takes pains to tell us that Bob is straight, but the way his relationship with Owen plays out, he's deployed as a gay character. One of the pilot's big jokes is that everyone in the architectural firm where Bob and Owen work stops and stares when the two men embrace (Owen has just told Bob the joyous news that he's marrying Alicia). When Owen decides on a wedding date without first consulting Bob, Cryer delivers the line ''I just don't know who you are anymore!'' in his hissiest, prissiest manner. Partners would be more interesting if Bob were gay, since both his friendship with Owen and his competition with Alicia would be that much more intricate and charged. But even buried, this theme has possibilities.

In Ned and Stacey, Church's character is a walking critique of what's left of '80s greedheadedness. So far, Ned's naked ego and arrogant ambitiousness have been presented as a complete worldview -- it's not as if there's a lonely guy with a heart of gold waiting to emerge. Ned is a soulless creep who has hooked up with a romantic idealist (why, Stacey is a writer who's contributed to the Village Voice!). But a guy like Ned is adrift in the '90s -- there's little of the economic and cultural approval that was showered on weasels like him a decade ago. With any luck, watching Ned adapt to the shotgun marriage he arranged for himself could offer the regular spectacle of having it blow up in his face. I'd tune in every week just to see that. Partners: B- Ned and Stacey: B+

An Article from the LA Times

How Fox's 'Ned and Stacey' Escaped Sitcom Death Row
Television: Series finished No. 122 last season, but the network has high hopes for the show as it returns Sunday.

New TV shows that languish week after week in the nethermost depths of Nielsen hell rarely last to the end of their first year, much less survive for a second. But when all of a network's other new shows fare even worse, sometimes a series can get lucky.

So it went with "Ned and Stacey," Fox's brash, bawdy and sometimes surprisingly sophisticated sitcom. It finished No. 122 out of 142 series on the four major networks last season and still managed to emerge as the only one of the 13 freshman Fox series that earned a renewal for this year. It returns Sunday at 8:30 p.m.

"We have seen it before--that for us it takes at least a season and a half for a show on Fox to take root," said Bob Greenblatt, the network's executive vice president of comedy and drama development. "There are so many networks, more cable channels, all kinds of original programs, that it is really difficult to find an audience. And with comedy today especially, there are so many out there that it's virtually impossible for a show to get noticed. So you really have to stick with the ones you believe in. You have to be more patient. That's our philosophy."

Greenblatt said that "Ned and Stacey" benefited from that philosophy because it began to click toward the end of the last season with the 18- to-34-year-old viewers whom Fox prizes.

"That is our pattern," Greenblatt said. "We start with that group and expand from there. We saw the same thing with [the initially low-rated] 'Party of Five' its first year and it turned out to be a real popular show. And creatively, this is a fun, high-concept show and Thomas Haden Church is just terrific at playing that kind of lovable rogue."

Church, a veteran of six seasons as the oddball mechanic on "Wings," stars as Ned, a pompous, narcissistic adman who entered into a sham marriage with Stacey (played by Debra Messing), a woman he initially despised, in order to advance his career. Broke and desperate to move out of her parents' house, she agreed.

What ensued was a sort of "Odd Couple" infused with a big dash of sexual tension. But the premise got thin as the season wore on and will be altered this season.

"I do think we played around with the premise as much as we could last year, and then I think the writers started having trouble justifying them both still living in the same place," Messing said. "So it is smart that we have a bit of a change of tact. It is difficult, I think, to maintain such a complicated premise. Look at the most successful shows, like 'Cheers'--you have a bar and a group of people and then you could do just about anything."

Last season ended with Ned and Stacey in a long-anticipated kiss, and then he threw her out of the apartment. This season, they will be going through the process of a divorce and, paradoxically, growing closer in the process. The series' two other principal characters, played by Greg German and Nadia Dajani, will assume larger roles.

Fox is certainly giving the series a sterling shot at success, scheduling "Ned and Stacey" between two of its most popular shows, "The Simpsons" and "The X-Files."

"I always wanted to be on Fox because I thought it was an edgy, vanguard attempt to program network television, and we are now being given the best shot that you can conceive of getting on this network," Church said. "If we don't deliver, if we don't bridge that audience for those two shows, then we deserve to die."

In an interview, Church doesn't much err on the side of modesty. Unprompted, he grabs credit for coming up with many of the show's directions and conceits, including this season's biggest change--Ned enters into the muffin shop business with his arch-nemesis/sister-in-law (Dajani)--and he favorably compares his character to Kelsey Grammer's Frasier, the centerpiece of the NBC sitcom that has won the Emmy for best comedy three years in a row.

"The show, and I think [executive producer] Michael [Weithorn] would agree with this, is very much designed around my sense of humor," he said. "I remember in college, I read 'On the Road,' and there is this passage that Kerouac wrote: Never say unoriginal things and never have unoriginal thoughts. That always stuck with me, and that tome is what is critical with the character of Lowell [from "Wings"] and with the character of Ned. That's the environment that I attempt to create on this television series--to be as edgy and funny and different as you can be. All I hope to do is turn a phrase, say a laugh line, that no one has ever heard before. I have a very improvisational style. It's what I do. I just have a fun take on everything."

Church's bravado is buoyed at least by the fact that his series outlasted "Partners," the show from two hot producers--Jeff Greenstein and Jeff Strauss--who had just come off of "Friends" and signed a multimillion-dollar production deal. Fox paired it in an hour block with "Ned and Stacey" last year, but "Partners" was the show the network trumpeted most as the flagship for its new era of smart, NBC-like sitcoms.

"That didn't frustrate me because, as the year went on, despite the low ratings, I knew that the network liked the show," said Weithorn, who worked for many years on "Family Ties." "It's frustrating only in that you would love to be a hit right out of the box, but as long as we survive somehow in the scenario, I think slow and steady will be fine."

The fate of the two shows bespeaks the lesson Fox learned.

"Our brand identity is so strong in the audience's mind--that Fox is the place for something audacious, something more brazen, something more distinctive," Greenblatt said. " 'Partners' was distinctive to our network, but it was similar to a lot of things NBC had had success with. Our audience, we have found, only comes to us for something they can't get anywhere else. 'Ned and Stacey' is more like that."

* "Ned and Stacey" airs Sundays at 8:30 p.m. on Channel 11.

An Article from The New York Times

In Unholy Matrimony, Till the Lease Is Up

Published: November 21, 1996

Always flitting around the periphery of the television schedule is the kind of show that is not a breakout hit but has just enough intriguing energy to merit attention. At the moment, ''The Drew Carey Show,'' on ABC, is one example. Another is Fox's ''Ned and Stacey,'' now back for a second season.

''Ned and Stacey,'' which was created by Michael J. Weithorn, is definitely 1990's. People don't enter relationships; they establish contacts. The marriage of Ned (Thomas Haden Church) to Stacey (Debra Messing) is strictly business. Angling for a job promotion, he feels he needs a wife. Wanting a decent apartment, she has decided she needs a husband. The only thing they have in common is that they irritate each other. Here's to the newfangled marriage of convenience.

Of course, this being television entertainment, romance does sneak into the picture, although neither Ned nor Stacey is willing to admit it. At the end of last season, Ned brought business guests home only to discover Stacey and her new boyfriend cavorting nude in the living room. An incensed Ned insisted that she was always notoriously promiscuous, having flings with notary publics, circus freaks and the pop group Menudo, ''even the guys who were kicked out.'' This season will evidently deal with the impending specter of divorce as the would-be Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn continue to spar. This is not, obviously, your most sophisticated comedy. But it does have one enormous asset in Mr. Church, best known before this for playing the dimwitted mechanic on ''Wings.'' This time around, Mr. Church, sporting curious haircuts, gets to do an intensely bright turn on shamelessly scheming Ned. Skipping flippantly through his repertory of famous movie characters, complete with snatches of dialogue (''Good day! I said, good day, sir!''), Ned skirts dangerously on being merely creepy but usually manages to survive with offbeat charm intact.

The neuroses are decidedly contemporary. Wondering if he might indeed love Stacy, Ned goes so far as to concede, ''I feel an intense ambivalence, some of which doesn't border entirely on the negative.'' Some viewers, though, may agree with the friend who, exasperated with ''this stupid fake marriage,'' tells Stacey that ''you should shower and get on with your life.'' The future will depend on Mr. Church's considerable ability to charm.

Fox, Sunday night at 8:30
(Channel 5 in New York)

Created and written by Michael J. Weithorn; directed by Rob Schiller; Mr. Weithorn, executive producer; W. E. Baker and Charlie Kaufman, producers; Tony Sheehan, co-executive producer. Produced by Hanley Productions in association with Tri-Star Television.

WITH: Thomas Haden Church (Ned), Debra Messing (Stacey), Nadia Dajani (Amanda) and Greg Germann (Eric).

An Article from Time Magazine

Monday, Dec. 02, 1996 By GINIA BELLAFANTE

Of all the creative teams in Hollywood, the Fox network's comedy-development group must be suffering from the worst bout of low self-esteem in town. All three of the awful new Fox comedies that debuted in September were quickly canceled. Moreover, of the six Fox sitcoms launched last fall, all but one have vanished from the schedule.

The survivor, Ned and Stacey, which had its second-season premiere last week in a prime new time slot--Sundays, 8:30 p.m. ET, between The Simpsons and The X-Files--offers evidence that the network's comedy division isn't entirely bereft of competence. Ned and Stacey pairs Thomas Haden Church and Debra Messing as opposites who both loathe and want each other. Last season had the two locked in a sham marriage--he needed a wife for a promotion, she played bride for room in his swank apartment. This season they are divorced roommates. The conceit is absurd, to be sure; the focus on ill-suited lovebirds-in-the-making, well worn. But the show somehow manages to mine subversive comedy from this unpromising vein. Having faith in the show's smart voice, Fox gave it another run despite last year's low ratings.

Ned and Stacey is the rare modern TV comedy that has been bold enough to create a not very feminist-minded imbalance between romantic sparring partners. Stacey is an empty-headed liberal prone to statements like, "I'm not interested in things that are frivolous and superficial!" More Sam Malone than Diane Chambers, she is no match for her verbally agile would-be beau. He is the kind of guy who mocks her poor judgment in dates with lines like, "I could throw a loaded bong into a mosh pit and still hit a better guy than you could pick out."

The show is an unabashed celebration of male arrogance. Ned is the prize even though he is an egomaniacal adman who conned his apartment away from an Alzheimer's patient. What redeems him is that he has fallen for Stacey, a forgetful slob, a writer of lame airline-magazine articles, a well-meaning loser.

Even if the show weren't so Ned-centric in conception, Thomas Haden Church might make it so. Church, himself a quick-witted former copywriter, lets smugness go untrammeled. Every expression, every perfectly boyish ironic grin he delivers conveys his proud condescension to all. Like an Alex Keaton, his cleverness always offsets his callousness, and we really just want to hug Ned in the end.

Church has also been blessed with a deep, reflexively sardonic voice that makes every phrase he utters funnier than anything you will hear on, say, Suddenly Susan. If TV land were a just place, Ned and Stacey would enjoy that show's success.

--By Ginia Bellafante

To watch episodes of Ned & Stacey go to

Foe the Ned & Stacey Fan page go to

For a website dedicated to Ned & Stacey go to

For an Episode Guide go to

For a Website dedicated to Debra Messing go to
Date: Mon January 23, 2006 � Filesize: 40.2kb � Dimensions: 500 x 711 �
Keywords: Thomas Haden Church Debra Messing (Links Updated 8/1/18)


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