Behind the Laughter: Insights from the Golden Age of Sitcoms

By Sarah Norman | March 6, 2024

NBC Executive Brandon Tartikoff Didn't Want Michael J. Fox To Play Alex P. Keaton On 'Family Ties' Because He Was Too Short

If you were a fan of sitcoms in the 1980s, then you may have thought you knew everything there was to know about your favorite shows and their stars. But behind the scenes, there were stories of drama, conflict, and fascinating moments that you never got to see on the screen. From Full House to Night Court, Moonlighting to Family Matters, Dallas to Dynasty, and The Golden Girls, this gallery takes a deep dive into the stories and secrets of the stars of these beloved shows. Get ready to discover the behind-the-scenes drama that made these shows must-see TV, and learn about the juicy tidbits that even the most die-hard fans may not know. Keep reading to uncover the hidden stories of your favorite sitcom stars from the 1980s.

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Matthew Broderick was initially cast as the young conservative Alex P. Keaton in the hit television series Family Ties, rather than Michael J. Fox, who became a household name for the role. However, when Broderick dropped out of the project, the series creator Gary David Goldberg reconsidered some of the other actors who had auditioned for the part, including Fox. This time, Goldberg was convinced that Fox was suitable for the role.

Despite Goldberg's approval, Brandon Tartikoff, who was the head of programming at NBC, remained skeptical. Tartikoff believed that Fox was too short to realistically portray the son of Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter Birney on the show.

Despite his reservations, Brandon Tartikoff eventually allowed Michael J. Fox to play the role of Alex P. Keaton in the pilot of Family Ties. After watching the pilot episode, Tartikoff acknowledged that Fox's performance was excellent. However, he still had some concerns about the casting choice, particularly in relation to marketing the show.

Ultimately, Brandon Tartikoff decided not to replace Michael J. Fox in the role of Alex P. Keaton. Fox's portrayal of the young conservative on Family Ties was highly acclaimed, and he won the Emmy Award for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series three times.

Katey Sagal Said She 'Disguised' Herself As Peg Bundy On 'Married... with Children' Because She Didn't Want To Be Recognized

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Katey Sagal, who portrayed the character of Peg Bundy in the long-running sitcom Married... with Children for 11 seasons, recently revealed on The Talk that she was primarily working as a musician before landing the role. Sagal expressed her concerns during the show that she might lose her job and have to go back to performing gigs if she got fired from the sitcom. She said:

So I sort of had this idea that I'll disguise myself so that nobody will recognize me when I take this [costume] off. So that was one of my motivations... because she was really in drag. I mean, that was her, she was really dolled up. And I didn't really look like that, so I could go about my normal life... I went into the audition wearing very tight clothes, and I had my hair up. I sort of felt like when I read the script that they [Peg Bundy and her husband] spoke so horribly to each other that they had to have something really hot going on somewhere.