Michael J. Fox — who rocked the television world in late 1998 by announcing he suffers from Parkinson’s Disease — said today that he’ll leave his four-year-old ABC comedy ”Spin City” at the end of this season. ”I could not be more proud of the show, our cast, writers, crew, and all that we have accomplished over the last four years, yet I feel that right now my time and energy would be better spent with my family and working toward a cure for Parkinson’s disease,” Fox, 38, said in a statement. ”This does not mean I am retiring from acting, producing, or directing, only that I want to relieve the strain of producing and performing a weekly network series.”
Fox, who plays mayoral press aide Michael Flaherty on the ABC comedy, revealed to reporters in late 1998 that he had battled Parkinson’s, a degenerative neurological disorder, for the last seven years. The disorder, for which there is no cure, often renders patients unable to walk, talk, or care for themselves. The former ”Family Ties” star — who has won two Golden Globe awards and generated three Emmy nominations for his work on ”Spin City” — has said how his arrival at the Globes ceremony one year was delayed because his hand and leg were shaking uncontrollably. A brain surgery in March of 1998 eliminated the most serious symptom — shaking in his left arm.
”Spin City” ranks as ABC’s fifth-highest rated comedy among adults 18-49, behind ”The Drew Carey Show,” ”Dharma and Greg,” ”Sports Night” and ”The Norm Show.” It would seem unlikely that Dreamworks TV would begin a fifth season without Fox, who executive-produces the comedy. ”Spin City” will have taped 100 episodes by the end of this season and has already been sold into syndication. “We know that ‘Spin City’ has been a labor of love for Michael,” said an ABC statement, “and we are proud to have been a part of its success. But there are clearly more important things in life and we give Michael and his family a heartfelt thanks and our continued support.”