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Happy Days fans are in for a treat: Legendary TV creator/actor/producer Garry Marshall guest stars in Scott Baio’s new Nick at Nite series, See Dad Run, on Sunday night.
In the episode, airing at 8 p.m., sitcom star-turned-stay-at-home father David’s (Baio) TV dad, Bernie (Marshall) visits, but the reunion sours when he runs off and leaves his new baby. David must convince Bernie that being a real dad will be his best role.
Baio and Marshall say they’ve kept in touch over the years since Happy Days ended its 10-year run in 1984. And when the writers were working on this episode, in the need arose to cast Baio’s TV dad, the actor says Marshall was one of the names brought up.
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“I went, ‘Wow, I don’t know if he would do it, but I’d love have him on the show,'” Baio tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I called up his office and asked him, and he said OK. And we thought it would be a great idea for his son Scott to direct the episode, and it all worked out.”
Marshall puts it simply: “I have a policy: I answer calls from people who made me a hit.”
The pair worked together for years on Happy Days — and prior to that, Marshall cast Baio on the short-lived series Blansky’s Beauties and a Pinky Tuscadero pilot that didn’t get picked up (although the character became part of pop culture history as Fonzie’s girlfriend on Happy Days). But Marshall and Baio had never acted together.
“I thought the whole week I would be so nervous in front of him: I wanted to be great in front of him, and I didn’t want to blow it,” Baio admits. “But as soon as we started, it was the most relaxed I’ve ever been, and it was just so easy. And it was incredibly emotional, and I’m not really an emotional guy.”
The episode also marked a homecoming for both as See Dad Run tapes on the former Happy Days stage at Paramount. For Marshall, it sparked a sense of déjà vu.
“It was the same old stage, and so everything was familiar. I used to watch my son run around backstage, and now he’s in front of me directing me and yelling at me to move over,” he quips, adding that he is comfortable with Scott behind the camera. (Scott previously directed his father in 2006’s Keeping Up With the Steins.)
For his part, Marshall went above and beyond while he was filming See Dad Run. Baio says the role called for Marshall, who is 78, to perform some physical stunts.
“Garry had a scene where he had to jump and fall, and dammit if he didn’t jump and fall on the street,” he says, a bit awestruck.
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Marshall — who, when asked how filming went, quipped that he “remembered his lines” — also gave the studio audience a treat when he jumped in to help warm up the crowd. It’s something he used to do on Happy Days, too.
While Marshall says he’s doing a lot of writing now and teases that he has “something in the works,” he’s also picking up a lot acting roles, including an upcoming guest spot on Two and a Half Men.
“Suddenly I’m an actor,” he quips, adding that he’d jump at the chance to return to See Dad Run. “I’d do it again in a minute — it’s a good show and it was a good time.”
He notes that he already knew many of talent, creative and crew: “It was a lot of people I have made friends with over the years. It was nice to see them again.”
For Baio, he says he owes his entire career to the living legend and says it was an honor having Marshall appear on his show.
“I am here because of him,” he says. “He taught me everything I know about television, and I owe him everything, so it’s just one of the most gratifying things I’ve ever done.”
Incidentally, Marshall’s sister Penny Marshall reunites with her Laverne & Shirley co-star Cindy Williams on Nick at Nite sister channel Nickelodeon’s Sam & Cat in a new episode airing at 8 p.m. Saturday. (Garry Marshall also co-created Laverne & Shirley.) The siblings actually shot their respective guest roles at the same time.
See Dad Run, which is in its second season, airs at 8 p.m. Sundays on Nick at Nite.
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