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March 25, 1997 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-03-25

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8- The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 25, 1997

America remains
married to the Bundys

Come learn about

The Extended Reach

By Julia Shih
Daily Arts Writer
LOS ANGELES - This is the man
who we've invited into our homes f(7r
11 years. The same man who scoredi
four touchdowns in one game at Polk
High, whose eyes light up whenever tla
word "hooters" iso
mentioned, and F1
who walks through
his front door every
day ranting the
same catch words,
"You'll never New
believe what hap-
pened at work today. A fat lady comes
in ....
This is Al Bundy, the All-Americanm
working class hero.
Yet this man sitting in the lavishly
decorated dressing room, surrounded
by state-of-the-art exercise machines,,
looks more like a kind, fatherly retired
football player than a man who has
been slaving under the sweaty feet of
obese women and the cruel bonds of'
marriage.
"You know, I don't even think about
it anymore," Ed O'Neill, the man
behind the Bundy, said in an interview
with The Michigan Daily. "I've been
playing (Al) now for 11 years. And the
only time I ever do it is here when I go
out there (on stage) and start it. I never
think about it otherwise, and I don't
think I ever do it at home:'
Other than once possessing an
incredible
talent at
football, Ed
O'Neill is 7
nothing like
his character
on FOX's
sitcom,
"Married
W i t h
Children."
Growing
up in
Youngstown,:
Ohio, he
played foot- Al goes for a ride with the
ball at Ohio
University and Youngstown University
before being drafted by the Pittsburgh
Steelers in 1969. But as fate would have
it, he was later cut from the team.
He was luckily able to avoid a stag-
nant career as a bitter, burnt-out shoe
salesman by falling back onto his theatri-
cal background (in college he majored in
theater) to open up the road to success.
Arriving in New York at an age when
most actors are past their prime,

EATURE
Married With
Children
Fox
episodes Mon. at 9 p.m.

frustration.
"I think if I had
gotten to New York
in my early 20s
instead of my early
30s, I would have
been further

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along." O'Neill contemplated. "No one
knows you. I was a busboy, so I had to
really work to get going.
"I did a lot of acting in my early 20s
in Ohio. I learned and studied hard, sort
of self-educated myself in the theater.
So I had a lot of theater experience and
I think that was good for me because it
gives you a certain confidence that you
have a technique that you can fall back
on."
After being cast to play the head of
probably the most dysfunctional family
in the country, it never occurred to
O'Neill that the show would go on to
become the longest-running sitcom cur-
rently on television. Filled with crude
humor, puns on sexual deviancy and
characters who constantly take cheap
verbal shots at one another, "Married"
emerged as the surprise hit of the '80s,
with its appeal carrying it well into the
next decade.
W h e n
asked why
he believes
"Married"
has lasted so
.: o n g ,
O'Neill
paused for a
moment,
deep in
thought,
before final-
ly stating, "1
I don't know.
kids in the Testica 2000. Some peo-
ple find it
funny, I guess." For a show that has last-
ed for so long, it is probably safe to say
that quite a few people find it funny.
"The show started as a little more real-
istic;' O'Neill continued. "Then pretty
quick, it got cartoonistic. The characters
iever change, which is why I think it's
f.unny. And that kind of thing is what we
really wanted. We wanted the characters
tip remain the same and just put them in
Afferent circumstances and situations.

So our challenge is just to create differ-
ent situations, which is harder."
On this particular day, the cast and
crew are filming an episode titled "The
Chicago Shoe Exchange" which has Al
and his co-worker Griff exchanging
shoes for other goods in the mall.
Meanwhile, Al's daughter Kelly
(Christina Applegate) practices her
abilities as a masseuse on her brother
Bud (David Faustino), with outrageous
and agonizing results.
Other members of the talented cast
include Katey Sagal, Al's bon bon-eat-
ing anti-housewife; Amanda Bearse and
Ted McGinley, who play next-door
neighbors Marcy and Jefferson D'Arcy;
and Lucky, the Bundy's cocker spaniel.
"That's the -fun of the business,"
O'Neill said. "I think it's the excitement
of working with people that you admire
and trying to get something going in
terms of good scenes. And I like the
team effort of trying to get the scene
working. Acting isn't really something
you can do by yourself. I mean, there
are one-person shows, but they're not as
appealing to me as an ensemble thing."
But with II years of coming up with
different scenarios and episode plot
premises, the well of creativity appears
to be, understandably, running dry for
"Married With Children." Sad but true,
even the best things in life must eventu-

O'Neill launched his career with roles
in the Broadway production of
"Knockout," and off-Broadway and
regional productions of "The Front
Page," "A Streetcar Named Desire" and
"Of Mice and Men?' But the cost of
stardom was a great deal of hard work,
brutal struggle and

a

,' .63a! ' - :-' : ;-.
Ed O'Neill (center) with the cast of "Married With Children."

ally come to an end.
"I think this could be our last year,"
O'Neill said. "But realistically, if you
were betting, it would probably be a
good bet that we go one more year. But
we don't know that yet?'
As for his plans after the sho
O'Neill stated, "Well, I never had
before, and I don't know why I'd have
any after. Whatever happens, I'll proba-
bly try to dig up a couple of interesting
parts in movies?'
O'Neill is definitely no stranger to
film, as he has proven perfectly capable
of handling the transition from. televi-
sion to the big screen. He has worked in
high-grossing movies such as "Blue
Chips" and "Wayne's World II" as w
as starring in the films "Dutch"
"Little Giants."
Perhaps the end of the "Married With
Children" era will allow O'Neill to
become the next Tom Hanks, who also
made a successful jump from a televi-
sion sit-com to become the reigning
king of the movie industry.
As for "Married With Children,' this
may be the last season for fans to enjoy
the chaos that ensues in the Bund
household. For a show that a whole g
eration grew up watching, we're all
going to miss it when it's gone. So now
would be a good time to start tuning in
- before it's too late.

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