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August 31, 2015

The Keatons Return! 'Family Ties' Alums Meredith Baxter & Michael Gross Reunite For Some '80s TV Trivia

by Maggie Furlong, posted Nov 17th 2011 10:00AM
Michael Gross & Meredith BaxterIs a 'Family Ties' reunion finally happening? Not quite, but Steven and Elyse Keaton -- a.k.a. Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter -- are together again, and this time they're getting animated.

The famous TV couple reunites for 'Dan Vs.' (season 2 premieres Sat., Nov. 19, 8PM ET on The Hub) -- it's a very special Thanksgiving-themed episode, which is perfect since we're infinitely thankful to have them both back on TV. What would we do, baby, without them? Stop me before I sha-la-la-la.

Dan always assumes everyone is against him (hence the show's title), but as his best friend's wife Elise's parents, Gross and Baxter's characters might actually be on his side. Or not. ''They're quirky parents, and they're conspiratorial," Gross said. "They're not nearly as nice as Elyse and Steven Keaton were, which is a lot of fun for us. We hate our son-in-law and his friends -- what could be more fun?" Baxter chimed in with a laugh: "We don't treat our daughter too well, either!"

Yep, these two portraits of all-American sitcom hunky-doryness are relishing in playing against type, but that doesn't mean they shun their most iconic roles. I put them to the test with some 'Family Ties' trivia, which brought out the laughs, the talk of an actual reunion and the clever middle names for Alex P. Keaton.

What prompted this little reunion on 'Dan Vs.'?
Baxter: Well we had an old connection with Jay Fukuto [from 'Family Ties'], who was originally connected to 'Dan Vs.,' and he kind of introduced me to the idea, and Michael as well. I thought the script was delightful, but was even more delighted by the idea of spending some time with Michael periodically.

Gross: And actually Meredith was my second choice, but ... [laughs] it worked out.

Do you two get to record your voiceovers together?
Baxter: Oh yeah!

Gross: Yeah, that was nice. As you know, sometimes people come in individually and you just record your lines and you never hear what anyone else is doing, but all of the episodes that Meredith and I have done thus far, we've done together, so that's fun. We play off of each other at a pair of music stands facing each other in front of microphones.

Sounds cozy ...
Gross: It is. I think one of the most fun parts about it is that you develop a relationship over years and it's fun to keep revisiting that relationship. You know how the other one operates, if you will, and there are fascinating little quirks and foibles and eccentricities of which I've become so fond over the years.

OK, now I want details -- give me an example of the other person's quirkiest quirk.
Baxter: You know what? I will tell you this ...

Gross: Probably my lack of restraint. [Laughs]

Baxter: Yes, that applies to what my answer was going to be. We have the script in front of us, and they'll say, "Michael, give us several variations on these couple of lines," and I think they have in mind three, and he'll give them six, eight, 19 variations. In Latin, with a German accent or with a lisp or something. He's riotously funny and has endless ideas on how to present something ... which is all very amusing to those out there. I, of course, want to take a nap. [Laughs]

Gross: Actually, God bless her, she's my best audience. We did that a lot on 'Family Ties,' too. One of my favorite things is when she gets the giggles. I like to provoke her.

Baxter: Part of getting the giggles, when it's uncontrollable and you can't stop, that's always heightened by the fact that we're filming! We have a live audience there! The pressure is different here, so I can contain myself a little more.

The cast of 'Family Ties'You all seem like you've never skipped a beat with each other. Which gets me wondering something I'm sure you get all the time ...
Gross: People always ask! "Are you guys ever going to have a 'Family Ties' reunion?" Well, folks, I think this is it. I doubt very much that we're going to get the entire cast together at some point in our lives, but this is wonderful.

You're not shutting it down completely, are you?
Gross: [Laughs] I keep reminding people that Michael Fox turned 50 years of age this last June, and he is now 15 years older than I was when I first played his father. I was 35 years old when I began playing Steven Keaton, and Michael is now 15 years older than that. It's bizarre.

Wow. Well we can reminisce then. This is the Thanksgiving episode of 'Dan Vs.' -- did you all have a favorite holiday episode of 'Family Ties'?
Baxter: The holiday ones make me think of the Christmas Past and Future that we did.

Gross: Yeah, we did the take off of Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol,' which was really fun.

Baxter: In that one, Tina [Yothers, who played Jennifer] was so poor that she was selling dirt. [Laughs] It was just very funny.

'Family Ties' had one of my favorite '80s TV theme songs. Fans probably come up to you all the time singing it. Can you fill in this blank? "And there ain't no nothing we can't ____ each other through."
Gross: People keep singing it to me in public! In elevators! We can't love each other through.

Baxter: Yeah.

Where was your TV son Alex born?
Gross: Oh my gosh. Was that in Africa, Elyse?

Baxter: [Laughs]

Gross: I know we were in the Peace Corps ... I want to say Africa.

Baxter: I don't know!

Meredith Baxter, Tina Yothers & Michael Gross, 'Family Ties'He's right -- Africa. What about Mallory and Jennifer?
Gross: I think they were born in Columbus.

I think it was Berkeley ...
Baxter: Berkeley? Oh ...

Gross: Where do find this stuff out? I'd like to know so I have the answers next time! [Laughs] They were born in Berkeley? Alright ...

Did we ever find out what the "P." in Alex P. Keaton stood for?
Gross: Boy. Not that I know of.

Baxter: Prescott. I'm making it up.

Gross: Parsimonious. He was cheap ...

Baxter: Is there a right answer here?

Gross: No, we never decided. That's how shallow we were as actors. [Laughs]

You all had two different Baldwin brothers guest star on your show. Do you remember which two?
Baxter: I think Dan Baldwin was on.

Gross: Oh lord. Did we have both the Phoenix boys? We had River ... I have no idea about the Baldwins though.

Baxter: I know one was Dan. Was it Steve?

Yep! Daniel and Stephen.
Gross: Very good, Meredith! She was obviously paying attention. Her short-term memory is terrible, but her long-term memory -- like a lot of old people -- is quite good.

Baxter: [Laughs]

Well you all had a lot of big guest stars!
Gross: We did. Geena Davis ... and Tom Hanks, until he became too expensive for us. [Laughs] You can attract good talent if you have good scripts, and one of the great things they always did when they brought in a guest star is they were not just window dressing. Those people had a lot to do, they had a character arc, they had wonderful material ... and I know that because I had nothing to do in those episodes. [Laughs]

Baxter: [Laughs] Yeah, we just watched them.

Watch our exclusive sneak peek
of Meredith Baxter & Michael Gross on 'Dan Vs.'

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Cool another Dan vs. Sneak peak! Now if only Saturday would get here faster.

November 17 2011 at 5:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They were also born on the same day. And MBB is a lezzzbian!

November 17 2011 at 2:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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