Michael J. Fox, Michael Gross, Connie Britton Remember Gary David Goldberg
The Emmy-winning writer and producer, who died June 22 at age 68, drew tributes from the cast and writers of his biggest hits, "Family Ties" and "Spin City."
Castmember, Spin City
I’m currently in Vancouver, where my wife [actress Mireille Enos] is filming The Killing, and about three weeks ago [Spin City co-star] Michael Boatman called me and said, “I’ve heard some news about Gary.” A few weeks later, Mireille and I were in New York for a premiere, and I got an e-mail from [Goldberg’s wife] Diana that said, “Gary is knocking on the door of the next world. ... We’d love to receive e-mails that have your memories, stories or thoughts.”
I quickly dashed off a note and two days later, Diana wrote back and said, “He sleeps a lot, but he’s smiling when I read the stories to him. Just know that he’s hearing your words.” We were all able to say our little goodbyes, and I’m very grateful for that.
Gary was my champion from the first time we met. When I auditioned for him and [Spin City co-creator] Bill Lawrence, they said, “We’d like to fly you to NYC to audition for Michael J. Fox” and somewhere in the interim, ABC asked, “Who are you looking at for some of these other parts?” Gary said, “Well, for Stuart we’re looking at Alan Ruck.” They said, “Yes, we know Alan, but this isn’t really the kind of part he plays.” Everybody has an opinion, right?
But Gary told them, “Yeah, we’re going to hire Alan.” The same thing happened with Michael Boatman’s part. From the beginning, he validated me like that. And when someone of that stature says, “I want you to be on my team,” it does something to your insides that you can’t describe.
I got very ill in the final season of Spin City. I was sick as a dog for two months and missed five shows, but Gary made sure I was paid for every one of them. He didn’t have to do that. The writers also went out of their way to mention me in those episodes. “Hey, where’s Stuart? Oh, he’s on vacation.” But I was bound and determined to make it to the final episode. I was still a little incapacitated, wasn’t walking well, and my legs were very weak.
But the writers were sweet and let me sit at my desk and gave me killer lines, really raunchy stuff to say to Heather [Locklear] and Charlie [Sheen]. And after that scene, Goldberg comes up to me, crying, and said, “That was so great!” and gave me a big kiss.
That was Gary.
Even with all of Gary’s amazing professional accomplishments — the TV shows, movies, awards — they are nothing compared to how great a guy he was. I will forever consider myself lucky to be one of the many, many people whose lives he changed for the better.
Castmember, Spin City
Gary gave me my first opportunity to do a big part in a TV show, and one of his many great qualities was that he loved to give people chances. He was never judgmental and always wanted to see inside, to who you really were. I remember in my final audition for Spin City — Michael J. Fox was there too — I will never forget Gary’s face; he had this giddy smile on the whole time, as if to say, “Yeah, you can do this, girl!” I learned so much from him. How lucky was I?
It’s funny; I never thought of Gary as being a guy who worked “in the business.” He became a family member to everyone he let in his life. He also made an impact in the outside world. He was an amazing father and husband; he and Diana were really beacons of exemplary parenting. To be those things and also remarkable in this business? To me, that’s someone who’s truly a hero.
Co-creator of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Lou Grant, which Goldberg co-produced
When you look at the shows Gary made, they’re all about decency and good people. The humor is never forced; it’s always totally believable. Most of all, Gary was smart as hell and could really make you laugh.
Warm-up comedian, writer, Spin City
I was the in-house comic for Spin City from about 1997 to 1999. Normally you just try to make the audience laugh before the show, and if you don’t, you get fired. But Gary and Bill [Lawrence] went out of their way to make me feel like part of the family. I remember once I ended up having to do two hours of materials — that particular episode took a long time to tape — which happens sometimes.
Then, three days later, I got an envelope with a check for $500 from Gary’s personal checking account. As a struggling comic, that was my biggest paycheck in a while. Holy shit! He was such a generous guy, he had this great big laugh; the show was simply a nice place to be because of him. I ended up writing a script for the show, which was the first script I ever wrote. Gary helped me get my first big break writing for TV, and for that I’m eternally grateful.
Additional reporting by Alex Ben Block and Bill Higgins.