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Ron Howard on Parenthood

Published February 16, 2010 in Television
By Fred Topel | Image property of NBC
Parenthood Parenthood

Parenthood was Ron Howard’s 1989 ensemble comedy led by Steve Martin as the patriarch of the Buchman family. They tried a TV version with Ed Begley Jr. that didn’t work. Now it’s back as a one hour drama. The family has a new name but Howard is still executive producing the franchise.

Ron Howard Talks Parenthood


“Frankly, in our little pre-conversation we were sort of scratching our heads,” Howard said. “Parenthood is a project that I really cherish. It's a great memory. It was a great creative experience. To this day, it's probably the most personal film that I've ever really been involved with or story that I've been involved with. So it's something that I hold near and dear. We had tried once to do sort of a sitcom version of it. That was just misguided, didn’tt work, didn't live up to, in my mind, the potential of all the stories and the characters as they existed in the movie.”

The day to day show runner of the new series is Jason Katims, who also brought Friady Night Lights to television. “The first question that we asked of Jason was, ‘Well, why do you need Parenthood? I mean, you're a great writer. You can develop your own family.’ He made an argument for why the foundation of that family worked. Yes, it's about parenting. Ultimately, it's about the unbelievable ups and downs of parenting, the absurdity of it, the pain of it, and also, significantly to me, the nobility of it. But it's also just about being responsible and being in a family. That always creates great suspense and great drama, and that was a thing that Jason started talking about. We felt that he could take this thing that meant so much to Brian [Grazer] and I, this idea, and bring it forward to today in a way that was compelling.”



Howard won’t just be a figurehead, but he is leaving the artistic vision to Katims this time around. “Truthfully, Jason came in. We, Brian and I, knew that this was a fantastic opportunity to let this idea grow with Jason's voice. I've been reading scripts. I was thrilled by the pilot. I've been a part of sort of creative conversations, but one-on-one, I met with [Katims] and the director a couple times. But, really, it's Jason's show, it's this cast's show, and I'm a big fan. It's very important to Brian and I that the show be great and that it have this kind of cast. It's just incredible from the pilot on and already the dailies and first three episodes is that just everybody is completely in stride, making these incredibly nuanced entertaining choices left and right.”

Imagine the artist, 20 years later seeing a brand new work inspired by his original film. “I'll just end by saying, as a creative person, it's unbelievably gratifying to see that an idea that was born 20-some years ago, yielded something that we were all proud of then, has, frankly, evolved into something that I think can be so entertaining, so impactful and is just already so beautifully executed, based on the writing and the incredible cast of the show. I'm here because I'm incredibly proud of it, what it already is.”

Parenthood premieres March 2nd.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of NBC
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