ABC to air 'Optimist' special on May 7

Former sitcom star Michael J. Fox is plotting his primetime return this May.

Fox has signed on to star in ABC’s “Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist.”

Meanwhile, the Alphabet isn’t the only net turning to star power in the coming months: CBS has greenlit the special “I Get That a Lot,” which stars household names pulling pranks on average folks.

The Michael J. Fox special, which airs Thursday, May 7, at 10 p.m., will follow the actor as he looks to spread his positive attitude to others during a time of economic turmoil.

Fox, who first revealed in 1998 that he suffers from Parkinson’s disease, will travel around the world for the special, including the Himalayan nation of Bhutan — described as a “modern-day Shangri La.”

While traveling, Fox will interview both famous and everyday people on how they conjure up optimism and hope.

Vicki Dummer, ABC’s co-head of alternative series, specials and latenight, called the special a “compelling look at the transformational power of optimism.”

In recent years Fox has turned his attention to his foundation, which focuses on Parkinson’s research, and he just wrote the book “Always Looking Up,” which hits bookstores March 31.

Northern Fox Prods. and Lincoln Square Prods. is behind the special; Fox, Nelle Fortenberry and Rudy Bednar are exec producers.

As for “I Get That a Lot,” one-hour special will air on April Fools’ Day –at 8 p.m. (in place of the net’s usual Wednesday-night sitcoms).

Special will feature Jessica Simpson, Heidi Klum, Jeff Probst, Ice-T, Mario Lopez and LeAnn Rimes as they work ordinary jobs — and tell the people around them that they’re look-alikes and not actually themselves.

The hidden-camera twist comes from LMNO Entertainment. Eric Schotz is exec producer.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more