Guess who’s coming to Thanksgiving dinner?
Candice Bergen and Charles Grodin, at least in terms of “The Michael J. Fox Show.” The veteran performers reunite — long after being teamed in the 1974 crime-caper movie “11 Harrowhouse” — as Mike’s (Fox) parents in Thursday’s (Nov. 21) episode of the NBC sitcom, appropriately titled “Thanksgiving.”
The holiday visit doesn’t exactly run smoothly: While TV newsman Mike is renewing his connection with his dad, sister Leigh (Katie Finneran) has ongoing issues with Mom, who’s something of a control freak.
“I think that’s a tactful way of putting it,” Bergen tells Zap2it. Famous for playing a TV journalist herself on “Murphy Brown,” she had fun portraying Mike’s mother “after I kind of found my way, but she’s the mother from hell, basically. No one stands a chance next to her.
“It was a very nice set to be on, and it was lovely to work with Michael. I’d met him on ‘Boston Legal.’ I didn’t have any scenes with him then, but he’s wonderful to work with … just a consummate professional, considerate and fun.
“He’s sensitive to what’s involved, and when he has to excuse himself, he comes back and he’s apologetic. He’s insanely hard-working and obviously very talented, and since this was the Thanksgiving episode, many people were involved. I didn’t have any scenes with him where it was just the two of us.”
Bergen also enjoyed her reunion with Grodin, though she reflects, “Chuck doesn’t really march to the same drummer as most of us, but he’s very smart. And he’s lovely because he tells stories on the set, and he has just has hundreds and hundreds. The young cast members, especially, were thrilled to hear them.
“His dressing room was across from mine, and when we finished, he left and didn’t really say goodbye. Then I had surgery, and the first thing I saw when I came home was this lovely little bouquet of flowers that said, ‘Get well soon. Chuck.’ That was very unexpected … and very sweet.”
Though she played the girlfriend of Grodin’s amateur jewel thief character in “11 Harrowhouse,” Bergen recalls they “didn’t have much to do with each other” during filming, “so we weren’t really close. But then I saw him at a great Thanksgiving at Marlo Thomas‘ house hundreds of years ago, where it was just one of those fantastic evenings that you never wanted to end.”
Five-time Emmy winner Bergen is looking forward to the return of “Murphy Brown” when weeknight repeats help launch the rechristened Encore Classic (currently Encore Love) cable channel Monday, Dec. 2. Some reports have suggested she and Grodin might be recurring “Michael J. Fox” players, but she maintains it’s a one-shot deal, at least for now.
“I think people assumed it’s recurring,” she says of possible guest turns on the show in the future, “but I don’t know anything about that.”
“The Michael J. Fox Show” airs at 9:30 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC.