SEPTEMBER 10, 1999 -- BY MIKE FLAHERTY
Fall TV Preview
NORM (ABC) 8:30-9 PM Starts Sept. 22
Say what you will about Norm Macdonald, but he's nothing
if not civic-minded. In fact, the love-him-or-hate-him
comedian is so concerned about his racy sitcom's move to
the family zone of 8:30 p.m., he's going to begin each
episode with a candid explanation of that week's naughty
content. Explains Macdonald: "We thought it would be
better to go on at the beginning of the show and tell
people not to watch it."
Thoughtful, eh? As for those brave enough to disregard
the warnings, here are some other wacky format tweaks
you'll notice in Norm's second season: For one thing,
there'll be way more celeb wattage. Each week Norm's
hockey player-turned-social worker will begin the show by
paying a visit to a particularly high-profile guest client.
Though exec producer Bruce Helford won't spill the beans
about exactly which stars have lined up, he does mention
Macdonald friends Dana Carvey, Eddie Murphy, and Martin
Short as for-instances. "I don't like to do stunt casting....
It gets to be really stretched," says Helford. "But these are
really cool people, and these [segments] will be separate
from the show's story, so we don't have to get into that
Macdonald's ensemble gets a good shake-up as well, with
costar Laurie Metcalf being joined by Mad TV's Artie Lange
(as Norm's corpulent scam-artist half-brother); Faith Ford
(Murphy Brown) in a six-episode stint as Norm's parole
officer-turned-girlfriend; and Nikki Cox (Unhappily Ever
After), who reprises her role as a former massage-parlor
employee trying to go legit with a gig as the office
"She's got this great bulls--- detector," says Helford of
Cox's character. "She knows things that these people don't
know because she's from the street." Adds Macdonald,
"It's a great device, 'cause she's a real nice girl now, but
she still has a past that we can call upon--about her being
a dirty, dirty whore." That's right, fans: Macdonald's
signature, often ad-libbed epithet will figure into as many
episodes as possible. Notes Helford: "If one episode
slipped by [without it], it must have been because he was
tired that week."
Okay, so maybe that "civic-minded" thing was a bit of a
stretch, but will we see anything likable about this guy?
"Right at the core of him, he's truly a very nice person,
and I think you're just starting to see that come through,"
insists Helford. "I don't think we're sending out any
wonderful messages to America with this character, but
when he does something really wrong, it bites him in the
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