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Michael J. Fox does the next right thing, tonight

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Michael J. Fox is doing a fantastic guest stint on Rescue Me these days, as an argumentative creep who makes Denis Leary seem as polite as Tim Gunn. Tonight, ABC is airing a special called Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist. It’s a TV variation on his recent bestselling book of the same name.

Now, I know you’re probably not likely to tune in to an hour of Fox roaming around, finding stories of hope and optimism in the face of his ongoing Parkinson’s disease, at 10 p.m. tonight, when you can watch Southland or a rerun of CSI. (That’s not sarcasm; that’s just the way network documentaries usually fare in prime-time against entertainment programming.)

But this one is worth seeing. Why? For a small reason and a big reason. The small one is the brief scene of Fox giving golf a try with Bill Murray. Fox swings and flails and the ball flies all over the place. Murray says with his deadpan candor, “I’ve never seen anyone hit the ball with such power and not know where it was going.” They have a good laugh, and Fox comments that all he’s trying to do these days is accept himself, “even when you screw up,” and to do “the next right thing.” Murray pauses and says, “I like that… as opposed to ‘do the next thing right’?” “Yeah,” says Fox. “I want to copyright that,” says Murray, writing the phrase down on a napkin next to his hot dog. It’s a great moment.

Oh, and the big reason. Just to spend an hour with Michael J. Fox. There’s no self-importance, no self-pity, no star ego, no change in behavior whether he’s talking to Bill Murray or a guy who sells newspapers on the street.

Me, I take every opportunity I can to see Michael J. Fox these days. I think you ought to, too.

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