||GEORGE AND LEO
Widely divergent men become in-laws when their children get married.
22 episodes of 30 minute duration. CBS. 1997 - 1998
Bob Newhart teamed up with another sitcom veteran, Judd Hirsch, for this comedy that could have been a masculine version of the Eve Arden-Kaye Ballard sitcom 'The Mothers-In Law' (NBC 1967-69). This time, Newhart was George Stoody, the owner of a small bookstore in the Massachusetts tourist location of Martha’s Vineyard. George’s son Ted (Jason Bateman) marries Casey Wagonman (Bess Meyer, replaced by Robya Lively after eight episodes). Enter Casey’s father, Leo (Hirsch), a gambler who had been on the run for 20 years after stealing money from a group of Las Vegas mobsters. The wedding of Ted and Casey provides Leo the opportunity to hide out in George’s spare room above the bookstore. The comedy stemmed from the two men’s different personalities-mild-mannered George and scheming, conniving Leo-who couldn’t stand each other. 'George & Leo' was liked by critics overall ("The New York Times" said "the series relies on Mr. Newhart's enduring appeal....Playing to his strengths, he turns the familiar feel of '’George & Leo’' into something welcome: a genuine Newhart sitcom"). But despite a prime Monday night slot, viewers didn’t warm up to the show. Even the addition of former 'Saturday Night Live' regular Julia Sweeney to the cast didn’t help matters; 'George & Leo' was gone after one season...
Fortunately, Bob Newhart has been far from gone. In 1999, he finally won a star on the Hollywood Hall of Fame; three years later, he picked up the prestigious "Mark Twain Prize for American Humor". In 2004, a statue of Newhart-as Robert Hartley-was unveiled in downtown Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. The bronze statue, with Hartley/Newhart in a chair next to a patient’s sofa, is now at the front entrance of Chicago’s Navy Pier. He was nominated for an Emmy in a rare dramatic role on 'ER', playing a troubled patient in several episodes. Not long after, Newhart guest starred on 'Desperate Housewives', playing the boyfriend of Sophie (Leslie Ann Warren), the mother of Susan Mayer (Terri Hatcher). And in 2006 came the release of Newhart’s memoirs, the wonderfully funny "I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This."
In an interview for the PBS series 'American Masters', Bob Newhart was asked about his long and successful entertainment career: "Really, it's for somebody else to explain. I just keep showing up ... I've finally come to the realization that I may just have a future in this!" He certainly has.
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