When former radio reporter Garth Ancier ran NBC’s comedy shows for then-program chief Brandon Tartikoff in the early ’80s, he supervised the production of such hi ts as “Cheers ,””Family Ties,””The Golden Girls,” and “The Cosby Show.”
When Ancier became the first program chief for the Fox Network, in 1986, he immediately set about trying to upset NBC’s comedy apple cart.
One of his first projects, “Married With Children,” was the first primetime show to air on Fox, on April 5, 1987. Sandy Grushow, who is now president, Fox Entertainment Group, overseeing Fox Broadcasting’s TV programming, scheduling, and marketing, recalls:
“The show was far too risky to have been considered by the other networks. In many ways it parodied some of the successful sitcoms they were airing. The very copyline used to launched the show was something like: ‘It ain’t the Huxtables.’ ”
Ancier, who is currently executive producer of the new fall talk show, “Ricki ,” starring Ricki Lake and set to debut Sept. 13, recalls the Fox Network’s launch:
“There was some science to it and some luck to it, as is usually the case. The late-night Joan Rivers show was the piece that made the whole puzzle work in terms of getting stations to sign on, but in primetime the very first frame of film was ‘Married … With Children.’ The whole network premiered with something like a 3 rating, and to think that show is now one of the highest-rated shows on the network nearly seven years later is pretty amazing.”