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Parenthood aired from August until November 1990 on NBC.
It took six executive producers ( including Ron Howard)to create this complicated series based on the 1989 Steve Martin movie of the same name. The theme was rasing kids -if you could keep track of everybody's peculiarities, and of who belonged to whom.
Mild-mannered financial analyst Gil ( Ed Begley, Jr.) and his wife Karen ( Jayne Atkinson) were the parents of angst-ridden Kevin(Max Elliott Slade), daddy's girl Taylor(Thora) and rambunctious Justin ( Zachary LaVoy). Gil was determined to be a " quality dad," unlike his workaholic father Frank ,though that often got him only ice cream in his ear. Gil's divorced sister Helen's ( Maryedith Burrell) kids were insecure Garry ( Leonardo DiCaprio) and rebellious Julie ( Bess Meyer), the latter being married to quirky young house painter Tod ( David Arquette). And sister Susan ( Susan Norman), a free-spirited high school teacher, supported her fastidious husband Nathan ( Ken Ober), who was working on his P.H.D. while exploring " alternative" parenting procedures for their gifted four-year-old Patty ( Ivyann Schwan).
Grandparents Frank and Marilyn ( William Windom, Sheila MacRae) looked on all of this with some dismay, while hard-of-hearing Great Grandma ( Mary Jackson) simply said " Eh, what?"
Leftover original episodes of this series were telecast on December 16, 1990 and August 11, 1991.
An Article from the LA Times
Parenting a TV Series : NBC BOUGHT 'PARENTHOOD AS A SERIES EVEN BEFORE IT BECAME LAST SUMMER'S SURPRISE HIT
August 19, 1990|DANIEL CERONE | TIMES STAFF WRITER
It doesn't require programming genius to turn a hit movie into a TV series. Upcomingfall movie-inspired series such as NBC's "Ferris Bueller," CBSU "Uncle Buck" and ABC's "Baby Talk" ("Look Who's Talking" on the big screen) tease networks with the promise of ready-made audience shares.
But it does require programming instinct-and a lot of old-fashioned faith-to base a TV series on a film that isn't even finished yet.
"Parenthood," NBC's new ensemble comedy putting Ed Begley Jr. in Steve Martin's paternal shoes, was signed, sealed and delivered as a TV series before the film ever hit theaters last summer.
"Way before it came out in theaters," producer Brian Grazer emphasized. "The majority of the time networks wait and see if you have a hit."
The fall sitcom has an early premiere this week, Monday at 9 p.m. When the new season officially begins next month, "Parenthood" will air Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Grazer and director Ron Howard are producers of both the "Parenthood" film and TV series for their company, Imagine Entertainment. Grazer said former NBC Entertainment boss Brandon Tartikoff asked to see an unfinished version of the film more than a year ago.
"Brandon is encyclopedic about movies and television," Grazer explained. "He follows movies as they get made, and he was curious about 'Parenthood.' When he saw the rough cut he loved the movie, saw the potential in it as a TV series and ordered it then, which was pretty bold."
Bold, indeed, because at that time nobody really expected the warmhearted adult sleeper to take the box office by storm, raking in almost $100 million in theaters.
"Summer movies usually have to be more high concept-somebody blows up an airport, or a crazy uncle comes to visit," said Lowell Ganz, who co-wrote the movie and pilot episode of "Parenthood" with his partner, Babaloo Mandel. "We didn't know if the punch was there to get people into theaters."
"Parenthood" the movie--which airs on Showtime, Tuesday at noon--was about parents' conflicting expectations of themselves and their kids. The film spent a short time in the oddball life of an extended family: Martin, Mary Steenburgen, Rick Moranis, Dianne Wiest, Jason Robards, Tom Hulce and a soap opera-sized supporting cast.
"To be honest, we struggled severely writing the film because it seemed that the material was more appropriate for a weekly series," Ganz said. "Nobody was excited about going to the bank and getting $21 million to make the film until they heard Steve Martin was involved. In the industry, we need to have that drawing card, the meal ticket, the glue."
NBC's drawing card is Begley, who starred for the network in "St. Elsewhere" from 1982 to 1988. Begley was cast as Gil Buckman, neurotic father to a 10-year-old boy with an identity crisis, an 8-year-old daddy's girl and a 4-year-old who bangs his head against walls for no apparent reason.
What remains to be seen is whether Begley can produce for NBC the way that Martin did for Universal Pictures.
"I think the specter of Steve Martin looming over the TV series is something that people behind the scenes worry about more than the audience does," said Ganz, who was story editor of the movie-based TV series "The Odd Couple." "Audiences are more adaptable than we give them credit for. I don't think they come with that baggage."
"There's no big pressure to be like Steve Martin," Begley said. "Our dietary habits and shoe size are similar, but that's about it. We're just going to try to do the film justice."
In order to do that, Grazer said, "We had to start from scratch. We thought if we brought over significant cast members from the movie it would create an imbalance."
"I never even saw the movie," said Ken Ober, who replaced Moranis as the obsessive father who relentlessly prods his 4-year-old daughter into becoming a prodigy. "I don't think I will see it. My mind is completely free and blank. I'm thinking the character my way."
Ron Howard took time from his film schedule to be on the set for the pilot. But now the new team is on its own. Lowell and Ganz's involvement in the series will be as consultants only. Ty King, former story editor for "Newhart," was hired to head a stable of TV writers. The show's real future depends on how well the new team can maintain the quality of the original.
"I've done TV shows before where you start out with one producer you really love and then the next season it's musical chairs," said Maryedith Burrell, who plays the weary single mother of a rebellious teen-age daughter and Angst-ridden son--Wiest's role in the film.
"As long as the writing stays true to the excellence in the film and in the pilot, I think we have a lot to bring to TV," she continued. "This is a character-driven series. We can resist the temptation to give somebody cancer or something, because we have more lives to deal with, and more people to explore."
In a way, "Parenthood" the series is the ultimate movie sequel that continues week after week. Jayne Atkinson, who took over Steenburgen's duties as Gil's wife, put it simply: "After you watch the movie 'Parenthood,' you want to see those people again. I did."
A Review from USA TODAY
TV PREVIEW/BY MATT ROUSH
'Parenthood,' fun for kids of all ages
In what may be the most enjoyable transistion from hit movie to TV series since M*A*S*H, Parenthood is for all those who yearn to see Thirtysomething played for laughs.
The new cast assembled for this multi-generational family comedy-drama lacks the movie's A-list cachet ( Steve Martin, Mary Steenbergan, Rick Moranis, Jason Robards and Dianne Wiest) . Ed Begley Jr., Jayne Atkinson, Ken Ober, William Windom and Maryedith Burrell get the respictive small-screen honors. But the tone of affectionatte anxiety remains remarkably consistent.
Tonight's engaging hour-long pilot, script like last year's movie by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, is less an adaptation than a flat-out remake. The dramatic sitcom , which becomes a half-hour series when it moves to Saturdays in the fall, picks up where the film started, ignoring the twists of its baby-boomer finale.
As before, Parenthood wants most to stress-beneath the resentments and my-kid's-smarter-than-your-kid rivalries that erupt at each family gathering-that parents are children too: insecure, contentious, eager for a pat on the head, and waiting for the day when life's chaos eases up.
Frizzled but amused tolerance is the rule-of kids for their imperfect parents who so often let them down, of the grown-ups for the fact that they can't seem to live up to expectations , especially their own.
The central figures are the brood supervised by Everydad Gil ( Begley) and long-suffering wife Karen ( Atkinson, who was equally fine in A Year in the Life), with Gil obsessing on his obsessive son Kevin ( the remarkably natural and affecting Max Elliott Slade). Kevin's a sensitive lad who sees a psychiatrist, worries about everything he sees on the evening news and wonders why he's so different from his schoolmates.
Father and son's mutually neurotic bond give's a touching funny heart to the show's sprawling and satisfying domestic canvas.
An Article from Entertainment Weekly
Published on October 26, 1990
The TV Family Gets Real
A look at family-themed series like ''Parenthood,'' ''thirtysomething,'' and ''Leave it to Beaver''
By Ken Tucker
From All in the Family to Family Ties, from The Hogan Family to The Addams Family, from Family to Parenthood, TV is obsessed with moms, dads, and kids in every combination possible. We speak of TV genres the cop show, the Western, the lawyer show, etc. but family shows transcend the concept of genre; they mirror their audience. And they're older than television itself: Some of the first TV family shows were just adaptations of radio family shows, like The Goldbergs and The Life of Riley.
There have been small changes in family shows over the years, of course. For instance, there used to be more of an age gap. You'd look at Danny Thomas in Make Room for Daddy and think, How did this middle-aged guy get the lissome Marjorie Lord? And how did Fred Gwynne and Yvonne DeCarlo produce Eddie Munster? These days, TV families seem to reflect the baby-boomer demographics of their audience more closely. Parenthood's Ed Begley Jr. and thirtysomething's Ken Olin probably watched Ozzie & Harriet and Leave It to Beaver when they were boys.
Some series that weren't family shows have proved to be family shows anyway: In The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary's coworkers provided the support system a family usually supplies. The island castaways formed a family in Gilligan's Island. Taxi drivers were a family for Taxi driver Judd Hirsch; barflies are a family for Ted Danson in Cheers.
Parenthood is a state-of-the-art family show, with a big, multigenerational cast. Its serialized plots are often as simple as Leave It to Beaver's Begley's kids come down with chicken pox; William Windom teaches his grandson the value of good sportsmanship. But Parenthood's boomer parents fret over their decisions more than Ozzie and Harriet did; they're awkward authority figures who grew up thinking you should constantly question authority. The perpetually crestfallen Begley is especially good at looking surprised whenever his kids obey his commands.
Still, for all its artful ambivalence, Parenthood is pro-family, unlike the media sensations The Simpsons and Married With Children. In these knowing but jaded shows, a family is something to escape as soon as possible; in the knowing but optimistic Parenthood, a unified family is something to yearn for and work at. It is a show to watch with the whole you-know-what.
An Article from Entertainment Weekly
Published on October 26, 1990
Finger Painting, Chicken Pox, and some TLC
On the set of ''Parenthood'' -- A behind the scenes look at the NBC sitcom that does a convincing imitation of family life
By Mark Harris
It's Halloween in Studio City, Calif., and the set of NBC's new Comedy Parenthood is festooned with ribbons of orange and black, cardboard goblins, glowing jack-o'-lanterns and unsightly blobs of goo. Most of the trimmings have come from the show's art director; the goo has been contributed courtesy of the youngest cast members, who decided that it would be a really cool idea to scoop out handfuls of wet, clammy pumpkin guts and lob them at one another in slimy volleys. The adults simply ducked for cover, and then, when the little skirmish was over, everybody went back to making a TV show.
The Parenthood actors are professionals, but many of them are also children, a situation that has required patience, good humor, and some quasi- parental guidance from the program's grown-ups. As the great pumpkin war suggests, the most far-reaching decision they've made is that, off camera as well as on, Parenthood's kids must be kids, and the formula seems to be working. NBC's adaptation (airing Saturdays at 8 p.m.) of the 1989 movie hit about four generations of one family has won some of the new season's most admiring reviews by shunning prefabricated sitcom cuteness in favor of the cheerfully clamorous, naturalistic style of thirtysomething, but with fewer neuroses and more Crayolas. Instead of canned laughter and outlandish plots, the series offers warm, closely observed vignettes of parent-and-child minutiae, from finger painting to fear of the dark. As a result, Parenthood's young actors 10-year-old Max Elliott Slade, 8-year-old (and single-named) Thora, 6-year-old Ivyann Schwan and 4-year-old Zachary LaVoy have come across as the most lifelike kids this side of The Wonder Years.
For their part, the adults seem to be taking the on-set chaos well. ''Oh, these kids they're so wonderful and sharp and talented,'' bubbles Sheila MacRae, a mother of four who plays Marilyn Buckman, Parenthood's grandmother of six. ''Of course, they do get a little hyper after their naps. The other day I was looping some dialogue and Zachary climbed right up next to me and said, 'Can I try that?' They're so curious.'' MacRae is also popular with the children, perhaps because of her Zen/Hollywood parenting philosophy: ''Children should be allowed to say what they want. Like the Eskimos, I believe that they should be talked to very calmly until they're 10. Then, if you want, tell them no.''
The show's childless actors have also slipped into TV parenting with minimal trauma. ''It's a real dress rehearsal for being a mom,'' says Jayne Atkinson, who hopes to have children of her own soon and in the meantime, as Karen Buckman, dispenses love, discipline, and lunches to a brood of three. ''Sometimes I wouldn't mind giving them back they have the attention spans of fleas! But they're so loving and fun to work with. And the more I'm here, the more I find myself sounding just like my mother. I get this tone in my voice, and suddenly I hear myself saying things like 'Sit down now!' or 'Don't do that, you'll poke your eye out!'''
''There's definitely a surrogate bond starting,'' says executive producer and writer David Tyron King. ''The adults are learning to have fun with the kids, and they're really attaching to them, especially the women. Sometimes you can see it in the way they'll stroke their hair before the camera starts.''
It's that kind of detail not momentous, but not trivial that King hopes to capture in the scripts. ''The changes in kids are so subtle that you have to listen really carefully,'' he says. ''My son Nicholas, who's 4 1/2, doesn't like me to talk to him in tones that I used when he was 3 1/2. Things happen incredibly fast.'' To help the show keep up, an informal ''parent patrol,'' consisting of director Allan Arkush and several of the actors and writers who have small kids of their own, listens for any age-inappropriate dialogue in the scripts. ''Very rarely do we have a problem,'' says Ed Begley Jr. (Gil Buckman), father of three TV children and two real ones, Nick and Amanda. ''It's not like other shows, where typical scripts have lines no child would ever utter. Often, all it comes down to is a reading or a nuance that has to be changed.''
King also keeps an eye out for trouble signs from the kids. ''If they don't understand something they're being asked to play, then we're concerned,'' he says. ''At read-throughs, they'll say, 'I don't know what that means' or we'll see in their faces that they're not registering it. Usually, it's a case of us 30-year-old writers pulling childhood phrases out of our own past. Ideally, we want it to be realistic enough so that people will say, 'They must have had a tape recorder in my kitchen this morning.'''
Not that Parenthood is able to achieve true realism. ''On the Halloween show I'm dressing up as Count Dracula's daughter,'' says Thora, who plays third- grader Taylor Buckmann, ''but I'm really going as the Little Mermaid.'' Then there's the important chicken-pox distinction. Her character was afflicted in an early segment, but ''I've never had it and I don't want it,'' Thora says emphatically. ''It's my favorite episode. It felt funny, though. They had to put fake blood on me! When it dried, it felt weird. But it looked good.''
Thora's attitude toward her TV parents, Begley and Atkinson, seems a shade more ambivalent. ''They like me,'' she says. ''They act like friends. But they act like parents too. Even when we're not working.'' And does she get along with Max Slade, her senior by two years, who plays her older brother? ''Yes...I guess...he's okay,'' Thora says, obviously mortified that the subject of boys was even raised.
Fifth-grader Max has the most complex role of any of Parenthood's children; he must plumb the miseries of the very worried Kevin Buckman, a sweetly jittery 10-year-old whose long list of potential hazards includes tornados, diseases, and other kids at school. ''I don't worry very much in real life,'' Max says, sounding slightly bewildered by Kevin's closetful of anxieties. ''I guess I just like to think everything will turn out for the better.'' Not surprisingly, Kevin's Halloween will be fraught with angst. ''He's going as a bug, but he really wants to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle,'' Max says, sighing. ''That's pretty much what Kevin does he doesn't like something, but for some reason, he's afraid to say why, or he can't.''
Shepherding the kids through these various developmental dilemmas requires a different approach for each child actor. ''With Max, you have to make sure that he understands everything in the scene the reason he's behaving the way he is,'' says director Arkush. ''Thora sometimes plays it big, like a sitcom. I say, 'Thora, what are you doing wrong?' and then she'll remember and say, 'I was acting, right?' Ivyann has a funny little tendency to look at the camera. And Zachary really isn't capable of doing something on cue I mean, he's 4. You just keep making him do it over and over and hope he doesn't get bored.'' Often, it's simply a matter of finding a suitable way to let the kids see what the adults are after. ''We have to resort to our imagination,'' King says. ''If we want them to be annoying, and they don't understand that repeating a phrase over and over is annoying, we say, 'It's as if you're pinching someone again and again.' They understand pinching because it's annoying but fun.'' Nevertheless, King never dismisses any child's misgivings about a scene. ''I'd like them to be a little more open to saying, 'I feel like I'm a real baby if I act this way,' or 'My friends wouldn't say that.'''
Actually, Parenthood's writers can draw from a bottomless well of accurate material, even if its small performers never speak up at all: their own families. ''The temptation to look at your own life as a source of material is great,'' King admits. ''I think my wife was upset at first. I'd go home, and she'd give me this very enthusiastic rundown of my son's day. And I'd listen and say, 'Hmmm...wasn't there anything I can use?'''
Here is Mary Jackson's Obituary from USA TODAY
Published on December 15, 2005
'Waltons' actress Mary Jackson dies at 95
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) Character actress Mary Jackson, best known as Miss Emily Baldwin on the iconic 1970s television series The Waltons, has died. She was 95.
Jackson died at her home Saturday of complications from Parkinson's disease, said her assistant, Woody Roll.
On The Waltons, which ran on CBS from 1972 to 1981, Jackson played one of two sisters who made bootleg whiskey they referred to as "the recipe." She appeared in several of the show's reunion specials, and her last appearance was in 1997's A Walton Easter.
In the 1950s and '60s, she appeared on Alfred Hitchcock Presents,My Three Sons,The Andy Griffith Show,The Fugitive and Barnaby Jones. Her movie roles included Jane Fonda's mother in Fun With Dick and Jane (1977) and one of the nuns in Airport (1970).
To watch a clip of Parenthood go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5jHD0vJ9e0
For more on Parenthood go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parenthood_(1990_TV_series)
For the Official Ed Begley Jr. Website go to http://www.edbegley.com/
For the Official site of Leonardo DiCaprio go to http://www.leonardodicaprio.com/
For the Official William Windom Website go to http://www.timem.com/starwebs/williamwindom/index.htm
For some Parenthood-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/shows/parenthood
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fj-XCnlznY
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Keywords: Parenthood Cast (Links Updated 8/1/18)