Show Type: Sitcom
First Telecast: November 14, 1988
Last Telecast: Still being aired
Murphy Brown..... Candice Bergen
Jim Dial..... Charles Kimbrough
Frank Fontana..... Joe Regalbuto
Corky Sherwood..... Faith Ford
Miles Silverberg..... Grant Shaud
Phil..... Pat Corley
Eldin Bernecky (1988-1994)..... Robert Pastorelli
Carl Wishnitski (1988-1993)..... Ritch Brinkley
John, the stage manager..... John Hostetter
Gene Kinsella (1988-1992)..... Alan Oppenheimer
Will Forrest (1989-1990)..... Scott Bryce
Jake (1991)..... Robin Thomas
Peter Hunt (1993-present)..... Scott Bakula
Avery Brown (1994-present)..... Dyllan Christopher
Stan Lansing (1994-present)..... Garry Marshall
Miller Redfield (1995-present)..... Christopher Rich
Murphy Brown was the veteran star reporter of F.Y.I., a highly successful CBS TV weekly magazine series originating from Washington, D.C. F.Y.I., which aired on Wednesday nights, was in its twelfth season on the air when Murphy Brown premiered. Murphy wasn't the most lovable person in the world. She was opinionated, sarcastic, overbearing and driven. She didn't know how to do anything in moderation - including the drinking and smoking for which she had spent a month at the Betty Ford Clinic. But, Murphy was a dedicated and tireless reporter with a great on-camera presence and an ethical sense not often seen on the air.
Jim dial was F.Y.I.'s stuffy anchorman, a newsman for 25 years who had never developed any sense of humor. Frank Fontana was the show's investigative reporter and Murphy's long-time friend. His one concession to TV - and he hated it - was wearing an obvious toupee over his thinning hair when he was on camera. New to the F.Y.I. staff was Corky Sherwood, a perky former Miss America (who had taken over the title when the winner had been forced to relinquish it) whose primary assets were her looks and energy. She knew nothing about journalism and idolized Murphy, who found her cheerful personality a little hard to deal with. Corky married writer Will Forrest at the end of the 1989-1990 season. Miles Silverberg was the executive producer of F.Y.I., an enthusiastic but neurotic young man who was not always comfortable or effective trying to control the program's staff, who considered both his age and lack of experience as liabilities. The local hangout for the gang was Phil's, a neighborhood bar whose owner was always willing to listen to their problems and offer good, sound advice.
For the first two seasons there was no regular theme - each episode opened with a different Motown song (because Murphy loved Motown music) whose title or lyrics related the storyline to follow. Murphy had a problem holding on to secretaries and they were referred to in the credits by number instead of name - she went through 20 during the first season alone and another 26 during the second and third! Eldin was the eccentric house painter, who had been working on Murphy's townhouse from the time the series premiered. He was there at all hours of the day and night and sometimes offered adivce to Murphy - even if it was phrased cryptically. Even after he sold one of his paintings for $1,000,000 in January of 1991, Eldin continued to work on Murphy's house.
The network that aired F.Y.I. was bought in February 1991 by American Industrial Enterprises, resulting in anxiety for the staff, cutbacks and assorted other problems for network president Gene Kinsella. Adding to his problems was Murphy's decision to have a baby at the ripe old age of 42. The baby was conceived during a brief fling with her ex-husband, Jake.
When her baby boy was born in May 1992, it set off a national controversy unique in the history of American TV. Murphy decided against a permanent father for her child, saying she preferred to raise him alone. The following day, real-life Vice President Dan Quayle, delivering a speech in San Francisco on the deterioration of family values in America, singled out the program for criticism. He said, "It doesn't help matters when prime-time TV has Murphy Brown, a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice."
The reaction was fast and predictable. Producer Diane English quipped back, "If he believes that a woman cannot adequately raise a child without a father, then he'd better make sure abortion remains safe and legal." Other Hollywood producers insisted it was their free-speech right to show anything they wanted to, and creatively they had to be true to their characters. Others, however, supported the Vice President, saying the episode was an unfortunate example of Hollywood's liberal agenda. CBS merely took it all in and figured that all the attention would raise the show's ratings. As for English, she got her "revenge" the following fall with a highly-hyped, mean-spirited hour-long episode that mocked the Vice President's misspelling of the word "potato." The advertising said, "Tonight, Murphy deals with some infantile behavior," referring to Quayle. The episode got top ratings.
The baby was named Avery, after Murphy's late mother (played in earlier episodes by Colleen Dewhurst, who had also died suddenly in real-life.). Murphy was unable to find a suitable nanny until Eldin, her painter pal, volunteered to take the job. Late that year, Corky and Will Forrest separated, and eventually divorced.
Peter Hunt, a renowed globe-trotting reporter, was added to the F.Y.I. team in the fall of 1993, but, after a few months confined to studio work, he got bored and went back to international reporting. During his stay, he began what became a tempestuous love affair with Murphy. Stan Lansing, the new network president, who was exasperated by Murphy's desire for doing whatever was politically incorrect, began making occasional visits to F.Y.I. in 1994, and that November, Eldin made the decision to leave Washington to study painting with a famous muralist in Spain. By the end of the year, Corky and Miles had started dating. In the spring of 1995, Peter, on one of his visits back to Washington, proposed to Murphy... and she accepted, but they later called it off. By the end of the 1994-1995 season, the number of secretaries who had gone through Murphy's door was closing in on 80!
A number of real-life news personalities made appearances, as themselves, on Murphy Brown. Among them were: Walter Cronkite, Larry King, Linda Ellerbee, Irving R. Levine, Connie Chung, Kathleen Sullivan and Paula Zahn.
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