The Throwback: 'Murphy Brown' honored with TV Land award
April 19th, 2012
02:06 PM ET

The Throwback: 'Murphy Brown' honored with TV Land award

When series creator Diane English pitched "Murphy Brown" to CBS back in 1988, the network was concerned the character wasn't likable enough.

Executives wanted her age to be 30 - or better yet, 25 - rather than 40, and they didn't like that, in the pilot, Murphy was fresh out of rehab. They also would've preferred that Heather Locklear take on the part.

But 10 years, 247 episodes and 93 assistants later (with a running gag on the show being that Murphy could never keep one), "Murphy Brown" remains beloved to this day. At last weekend's TV Land Awards, which will air on April 29, the series received the coveted Impact Award.

The event also honored "Laverne and Shirley" (Fan Favorite Award), "Pee-wee's Playhouse" (Pop Culture Award), "One Day at a Time" (Innovator Award), and "In Living Color" (Groundbreaking Award). Aretha Franklin received the Icon Award and The B-52's served as the house band.

Diane English, along with the entire cast, appeared on stage to accept the award. This was one of the great TV ensembles, with:

  • Candice Bergen, who won five Emmys for outstanding actress in a comedy series for her portrayal of the Motown-loving, Dan Quayle-hating heroine of the series;
  • Faith Ford, who played Corky Sherwood-Forrest, the former Miss America who was hired for her looks rather than her journalistic skills;
  •  Charles Kimbrough, who portrayed unflappable news anchor Jim Dial;
  • Joe Regalbuto, who played ladies man Frank Fontana, who remained the consummate reporter despite severe neuroses;
  •  And Grant Shaud, who played boy wonder Miles Silverberg, the Harvard grad who was hired as "FYI's" executive producer despite his lack of experience.

In the fictional "60 Minutes"-style "FYI" newsroom, Murphy didn't suffer fools gladly, which is why English described her as "Mike Wallace in a dress." English even took the time out to dedicate the Impact Award to the real-life "60 Minutes" newsman, who died on April 7 at the age of 93, saying "he's gonna be very missed."

The group also took a moment to remember the late Robert Pastorelli, who played Murphy's house painter Eldin. Pastorelli passed away in 2004.

The actors gave speeches as well, starting with Bergen, who said, "Happily, for 10 years and 247 episodes, America - with the possible exception of one vice president - found much to like in Murphy and her friends."

The vice president the actress was referring to was Dan Quayle, who famously lambasted the eponymous Murphy Brown in a now-infamous 1993 speech for "mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice."

Ford, meanwhile, recalled being convinced that she blew her audition.

"I walked out of the audition and I felt like I hadn't done a good enough job," she said, "so I knocked on the door and I came back in and I said, 'I know how Corky would dance!'"

Kimbrough - no doubt channeling his inner Jim Dial - simply stated, "I was really lucky to get the job," and Shaud recalled that CBS executives were reluctant about him as well, as he was an unknown at the time.

"The network didn't want me either," said Shaud, "but thankfully Diane stood up for me in the room. I didn't have a TV Q (Q rating) because I'd never been on TV."

Regalbuto stated that the biggest honor for him was "to have worked with these people. Diane gave me a job that changed my life. I actually got to meet and work with Candice Bergen, which was a thrill... a great experience. And as much fun as the show was for us, it was a true joy and we'll always be privileged to have been a part of that show."

CNN spoke to Regalbuto about the fact that Frank was the only character on the show permitted to call Bergen's character "Murph."

"As a matter of fact," Regalbuto noted, "there was a time when we had a guest actor, I don't remember who it was, who called her 'Murph' by accident. Oh, the producers came down on him!"

The fact that "Murphy Brown" remains beloved to this day is "a thrill," Regalbuto told CNN. "I think we were capturing something then about behind-the-scenes news organizations and what goes on. It was a terrific time and I think the timing was just perfect to sort of fit in there and reflect what goes on behind those cameras a lot."

What about you? Do you have a favorite "Murphy Brown" storyline, episode, character, or running gag? Let us know in the comments.

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Filed under: television • The Throwback

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. pandoramn

    What I loved best about Murphy Brown was that, as much as she was acerbic and sarcastic, she was always about the truth when it came to the news, and she was a loyal friend to those who proved themselves worthy. A strong woman – apparently still too frightening for some of the pea-brains posting here to appreciate!

    April 20, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. BobTheBuider

    My favorite episode , was the last one. That stupid series was so lame. Bunch of old hags watched it.

    April 20, 2012 at 5:53 am | Report abuse |
  3. Carolyn

    By far, my favorite episode of Murphy Brown involves her parents who encounter each other at Murphy's home. When her mom, Avery, played by the always incredible Colleen Dewhurst, talks with her dad, Bill, played by Darren McGavin (the dad in the classic Xmas film "A Christmas Story"), about his new, much younger wife, being pregnant. She congratulates him and then says, "I would have thought you'd be shooting blanks by now." His response: "It helps to have a live target!" Priceless!

    Each week, Murphy Brown brought intelligent, timely and hilarious comedy into our homes. It was a show worth watching, then and now!

    April 19, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. OLo

    My favorite episode (if we could get back to the original question) had to be the one where Murphy gives birth. Having been through the process myself, the way it was played out was classic Murphy Brown. Hysterical. "Murphy Brown" was the show wherein television writers learned to loosen up and write for real people. Not stiff robotics. And Candace could pull off those lines better than anyone. I would have tears running down my face when an episode was done. Bring her back!!!!! Olo

    April 19, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Writerscramp

    One great burning question has never been answered since Murphy Brown was cancelled ... Did Eldin ever finish painting her apartment ?

    April 19, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. strony internetowe gdynia

    It's very nice program! I'm like it!! :) strony internetowe gdynia

    April 19, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Louisa

    Love her, loved the show.

    April 19, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Micki

    EVERYBODY I knew watched it.and it was discussion about the latest antics every morning after at the water cooler in the office My favorite episode was Murphy dreaming about her funeral.....and the reading of the tribute written by the head of the secretarial pool. Of course, there was the episode of dumping a truckload of potatos, potatoes, in front of the vice president's lawn. Yep, GREAT show. deserved to be honored.

    April 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. San Jose

    Oh man! I used to love this show... now I'll have to watch a couple episodes on YouTube.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. danielwalldammit

    Heh, Quayle should have presented the award.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Observer

    Liberal.
    Garbage.

    Glad it went off the air. Nobody I knew ever watched it.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • yo

      U know ppl? Fox n friends aint really yo friends, u know that right? So in nutha words, u dint watch it.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • CN Red@Observer

      Stop lying. You don't know anyone and have no friends you neocon rat brain.

      April 19, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOL

      LMAO! Riiiight... Neither of your friends watched it. Oh, I do love the American rhetoric. So unrefreshing ;) Way to go, Murphy Brown!

      April 19, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josef F

      Your friends sound boring and stupid. So does *their* friend.

      April 20, 2012 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      You're liberal garbage

      April 20, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |

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