Facts and tidbits from Perfect Strangers you may not have known!

Did you know . . .
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that when Perfect Strangers was on the air the production companies would be hopefully of winning an Emmy?  Not only for P.S. but for the may shows they produced!  To help keep the shows fresh in the minds of potential voters, these companies often placed really nice full page ads in the trade publications (i.e. The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.)  You can see many of the ads for Perfect Strangers, as published in these magazines, on our Print Ads page!

Did you know . . .
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that Second Sight was director Joel Zwickís first feature film?  He had been working as a director on Perfect Strangers from the beginning, but this was his first venture into directing a full-length movie.  But despite this overwhelming task he was able to keep the project on track.  As Joel Zwick explained to the Hollywood Reporter, "I think itís my TV background.  When youíre directing a show a week, you canít just sit around because the pace and pressure are just too great.  I probably brought some of that to this feature, so that what I lack in technical skills, I hopefully made up for in terms of energy and enthusiasm."

Did you know . . .
. . . that the climax of the movie Second Sight, which Bronson starred in, involved the ripped up fuselage of an airplane?  The interior shots of the plane with the cast were done on a soundstage, but the external shots had to be done in Boston.  The huge mock up plane prop was created in Pasadena, so the entire thing had to be towed across the country for the shoot, which involved plenty of permits to go through many towns.  The filmís executive producer, Joe Caracciolo Jr., explained to the Hollywood Reporter that once the plane prop reached the location "the rest of the shoot was relatively trouble-free."

Did you know . . .
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that Bronson is in no way your average Hollywood actor, even when he was actually living in Hollywood!  In Bronsonís 1986 press biography it states, "The single actor collects 18th and 19th century painted Scandinavian furniture, and enjoys listening to 14th and 15th century music.  A fitness buff, he works out regularly, and loves to travel alone."

Did you know . . .
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that Bronsonís childhood was not the happiest?  Bronson has talked about his poor upbringing many times, but explained it this way in his 1985 press biography, which he wrote himself: "My family, two brothers and one sister, was on welfare until I was in high school, because my father left us.  I immersed myself in schoolwork in order to get straight Aís which would assure me of a college scholarship and a chance to get out of South Pasadena."

Did you know . . .
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that Bronson originally studied painting and literature at Yale, which he attended on a scholarship?  Itís true!  Fortunately for all of us, Bronson became a theater arts major.  But it's obvious that he's now putting those former skills to work for him on his new series, The Bronson Pinchot Project!

Did you know . . .
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that Bronson loves coffee?  That would seem apparent from the espresso coffee he was making in the premiere episode of The Bronson Pinchot Project.  But thinking back it seems it may not be a new habit with him.  As he pointed out in one print article, "I've done a lot of Pepsi commercials and I did a pretty good one for coffee last year.  I guess that puts me in the caffeine sector pretty strongly."

Did you know . . .
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that while Bronson is not a fan of pop-culture, he was savvy enough to know when to embrace commercialism.  As he explained honestly in one interview, "I make no bones about it; I love to do commercials.  It's great money and you can sometimes make them little works of art.  I mean, the only time I've ever rejected a commercial is when the money wasn't enough."

Did you know . . .
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that Bronson accepted the fact that he is a very talented comedic actor, but was down to earth about his capabilities always.  As he stated in one interview, "As for my talent in the comedy area, it's not all that difficult for me.  I think you take your own human experience, multiply it by 10 -- and then it's funny."

Did you know . . .
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that Bronson, like Mark, truly consider both comedy and dramatic acting to be very much one and the same?  Bronson explained this in one print interview, saying, "As far as I'm concerned, acting is acting -- and just because you're in a comedy series, it doesn't mean that the program doesn't contain moments of genuine drama.  Look at any film with Charlie Chaplin: Even his funniest movies had significant moments of great humanity where he moves you to tears.  Not to sound totally disgusting, but we do that -- to a certain extent -- a lot of the time on 'Perfect Strangers.'"

Did you know . . .
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that itís safe to say Bronson was typecast as a comedic accented-character actor for some time after Perfect Strangers.  But back when he was on the show he took a very straightforward approach to looking at the matter.  As he stated in one print interview, "If people in this business want to typecast me as a comic performer, that's their business.  I personally see no great distinction between playing funny and playing straight, and I sure don't have any intention of suddenly stepping out in a TV movie and playing a heavy dramatic role just to prove myself.  I always find it to be like a glass of cold water in the face when actors do that just to demonstrate their versatility.  I don't see the point.  I don't know if I'm ready to see Jane Alexander do the life story of Harpo Marx."

Did you know . . .
. . . that Bronson was not a fan of pop-culture, yet somehow managed to imitate songs and commercials perfectly on Perfect Strangers?  How did he do it?  Well, he explained how to one interviewer this way: "All my old friends keep asking me how I'm able to handle all those pop-culture references on 'Perfect Strangers,' and I tell them I just get somebody to play me the record in question -- or I have somebody describe the commercial in full detail -- and then I just play along with it and it works out fine.  Because most of the time, I watch virtually no TV and the music I listen to is usually classical."

Did you know . . .
. . . that Bronson was required to make many pop-culture references in his role of Balki.  Well, of course you did, etc.!  But in actuality, Bronson was not into pop-culture at all!  As he explained in one print interview, "I really hate mass-culture, especially pop music.  To me, it's nauseating."

Did you know . . .
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that Bronson mentioned in a print article what the national theme of Mypos was to be?  Itís true!  Obviously the joke didnít make it onto the show, but Bronson was explaining to one interviewer about how having Mypos as a fictitious island meant they could take more liberty with the humor.  Bronson is quoted as saying, "I mean, just a few weeks ago, we said that the national anthem of Mypos is 'How Will I Know?' by Whitney Houston.  Well, you could never be that playful if you were dealing with a real country.  I mean, everyone would be horrified."

Did you know . . .
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that Bronson found audiences very warm and receptive to Balki when Perfect Strangers came to television in 1986, especially those in America who happened to be immigrants themselves.  He explained in one print interview, "I am happy that people of all ages can identify with my character.  They stop me on the street and tell me wonderful stories about their experiences as strangers in a new country.  I use a lot of what I hear to help develop Balki."

Did you know . . .
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that in response to the producers concerns about Balki coming across as an wide-eyed and enthusiastic immigrant for too long (see the entry below), Bronson explained his answer to them in one print article this way: "So I answered, telling them about when I was in a coffee shop recently, and a Russian-born woman who owned the store said she recognized me from the show.  She related that, even though sheís been here many years, every time she travels and comes back to this country she feels like getting down on her hands and knees and kiss the ground, thankful that she lives in America.  I want my Balki to continue to feel just like her."

Did you know . . .
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that Bronson, Mark and the producers of Perfect Strangers all wondered how long they were reasonably going to be able to keep Balki a wide-eyed newcomer to the U.S.  "The producers thought that even a grateful immigrant reaches a point of settling in and accepts the freedoms and liberties, taking them for granted, in a way," Bronson explained in one print article.  "They thought we should start phasing out lines like Ďthis is my dreamí in the episodes this fall, since Balki would have been in the country about a year now.  They asked, ĎHow long does an immigrant keep saying stuff like that?í"

Did you know . . .
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that after the scene during the making of Second Sight in which Bronson accidentally let loose with a few expletives in Bostonís Cathedral of the Holy Cross (see above,) Bronson was sympathetic to the surprised reaction by the Archbishop.  "I donít blame the guy at all," Bronson explained in one print article.  "I mean, this wasnít just anyoneís home, this was Godís home.  Thank God he didnít see the scene where I psychically determine that the cardinal has hemorrhoids.  That was a blessing."

Did you know . . .
. . . that during the filming of the scene in Bostonís Cathedral of the Holy Cross for Second Sight, the real archbishop said to crew members and asked, "Who is that man, and why is he running around my church cursing?"  The reason behind Bronsonís expletives was at least understandable, since there were shards of Plexiglass on the floor and Bronson was acting barefooted, causing him to cry out, "Who the **** put these **** Plexiglass shards on the floor?"  Ouch!  Unfortunately, according to one report, thatís when the archbishop asked them to stop filming in his church!

Did you know . . .
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that Perfect Strangers creator Dale McRaven was also quoted in Rolling Stoneís 1986 article about the new series, explaining why the show stayed away from topical and serious subjects.  "Right now people just want to be entertained.  I think the nation is tired of being guilty.  People just want to turn on the TV and laugh."

Did you know . . .
. . . that in a 1986 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Mark Linn-Baker explained why the series was different than the other current television fare of itís time (and previous time!)  Mark was quoted as saying, "The style weíre shooting for," Linn-Baker says, "is like I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners, stylistically harking back to those days.  Weíre not an issue show."

Did you know . . .
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that Bronson Pinchot was extremely honest and uncensored in his 1986 interview with Rolling Stone magazine?  Of course, would we expect Bronson to be anything less than open and honest?  The interview started with him explaining to the reporter, Mark Christensen, how he felt about cars (which segued into one of those famous "too much information!" moments!)  Bronson was quoted as saying, "I donít like cars.  I canít see myself going out and spending a bunch of money on a Mercedes or a Porsche.  No, no, no, no.  Cars are for going places.  Thatís it.  I'd rather walk.  In my free time, mostly I listen to medieval music Ė hours at a time Ė or read classical mythology.  Except if I have a girlfriend.  Then we have sex until my skin rubs off."

Did you know . . .
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that Mark enjoyed making the made-for-TV ensemble comedy film Going to the Chapel for NBC?  As he explained in one print interview, he working on the film "because I was working with a host of NBC stars, plus such pros as Cloris Leachman, Max Wright, Eileen Brennan and Dick Van Patten.  I think I was the only ABC actor there."

Did you know . . .
. . . that in a 1986 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Bronson outlined his exact approach to playing Balki as an innocent character?  Bronson was quoted as saying, "The core in him is that he looks at the world like a four-year-old.  I try to lift off all the adult, urbane, tense, mindful stuff and just be a total innocent.  At whatever age you are when youíre not self-conscious about being naked, about having drool come out of your mouth.  Thatís where he is.  His dream was to come to America.  But his dream could be anything.  What is important is that mentally he has not been touched by that veil of self-consciousness that happens when youíre four and a half or five years old.  And itís just left in the air whether or not everybody from his island is like that or he is special.  Remember the character from Nights of Cabiria?  Sheís like this little prostitute and sheís untouched by the prostitution.  Sheís very innocent.  Balki is like that.  He doesnít have the brown edges like avocados get.  Heís totally fresh.  One of the writers said this guy is Billy Budd.  What he meant was that Balki is actually good.  He sees the world as benevolent.  Not Ďcause heís too stupid to know otherwise.  Heís actually a good person.  The core of him will never be touched.  And if it is, the show will end."

Did you know . . .
. . .
that Markís father worked as a radio writer, but that he also started a theater group in Connecticut?  So Mark was exposed to show business at an early age, but surprisingly he didnít fall immediately into treading the boards.  As he explained in one print interview, "I didnít really make a decision that itís what I wanted to do until my junior year in college."

Did you know . . .
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that one of the key reasons Perfect Strangers was successful is because it harkened back to a time when television sitcoms were a lot simpler.  As Mark explained in one print article, "The secret of the series is simplicity -- to create a problem and let the two characters solve it."

Did you know . . .
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that Bronson and Mark got along well on the set of Perfect Strangers?  Of course you did, donít be ridiculous!  But often the actors werenít believe by the press when they explained this fact.  As Mark explained in one print article, "Itís bad for the press, I know, but we hit it off right from the start."

Did you know . . .
. . . that Bronsonís role as Serge in Beverly Hills Cop was a turning point in his career?  Well, of course you did!  Donít be ridiculous!  Bronson explained it this way in one print article: "All of a sudden somebody waved a wand over me, like Glinda the Good Witch of the North.  I was like a puppy thatís just been allowed to run around the living room."

Did you know . . .
. . . that Bronson was and is extremely close to his mother, and that she provided some of the best memories in his young life.  As he explained in one print article, "She was interested in giving her kids more than the usual.  She was like taking an arc light into a grimy garage.  She made all the rats and creepy-crawly things run into the corners."

Did you know . . .
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that Bronson purposefully avoided appearing as Serge in the sequel Beverly Hills Cop II?  It might seem strange for an actor to turn down the chance to recreate a memorable role like that, but Bronson knew even a small role could become tiresome if done too much.  As he explained in one print interview, "I didnít want to be like some kind of pasta people lose their taste for, and then Iíd be done."

Did you know . . .
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that as an actor, Bronson Pinchot was willing to stretch himself and put himself in less than flattering roles.  As he explained in one print article, "Everyone has their thing, and one of my things is an A-Z range.  Iím willing to be unattractive.  Iím willing to be . . . questionable."

Did you know . . .
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that
Bronson didnít like most reporters habits of trying to pigeon hole him into a specific type.  In one print interview with reporter Bart Mills, Bronson explained, "What I find repulsive is that in every mediocre writerís brain there are two ideas: the actor is the character or heís not the character.  Thereís no other basket in there to collect the data.  Itís either, heís zany like Balki or heís intellectual, unlike Balki."

Did you know . . .
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that Bronson would often ask questions of the people interviewing him which perhaps they didnít expect?  One such instance happened to Bart Mills while interviewing Bronson about Second Sight for the movie magazine Marquee.  As Mr. Mills wrote in his article, "After the hour of talking while lying on his living room floor, after the drive in his Jeep to the restaurant and after the long health-food lunch, Bronson Pinchot asks the burning questions: "So who did you expect to answer the door when you came to interview me?"  Bronson was wondering if the reporter expected him to be like Balki or as Bobby from Second Sight or as himself!

Did you know . . .
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that Bronson used a mixed of different accents in coming up with the unique Myposian accent for Balki.  As he was briefly quoted in one print article, "There are about four different accents that have affected me."

Did you know . . .
. . . that despite the huge amount of work a series like Perfect Strangers demanded, Mark was quoted in one print article that he couldnít be happier with the series.  "Weíve been on a roll turning out good shows; our audience has grown; weíre about as secure as we can be that weíll be picked up." 

Did you know . . .
. . . that that during breaks from working on Perfect Strangersí Mark would often travel between New York and Los Angeles?  One year a print article reported that Mark "plans to head East to spend the holidays with his family, then return to L.A. in hopes of finding movie work -- Ďnobodyís made me a firm offer.í -- then fly back to New York in early summer to work with the New York Stage and Film Theater Company.

Did you know . . .
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that Bronson attended Yale on a scholarship, but Bronson had a choice of schools because he also received several other offers as awards for his high school academic merit.  His choice was fortunate for us because it was while attending Yale that Bronson first became interested in acting!

Did you know . . .
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that after Bronsonís notable appearance in the film Beverly Hills Cop, casting directors approached him more as a stand-up comedian than an actor.  Producers Miller and Boyett changed all that, though.  As Bronson explained in one print article, ""Perfect Strangers was really the first time someone had approached me as an actor, not a bubble-gum machine and saying, 'We want that flavor.'"

Did you know . . .
. . .
that one of Bronsonís first non-university roles on stage was in the Jack Hofsiss directed play Poor Little Lambs.  But what you may not know is Bronson originally auditioned for a role in another off-Broadway production which he didnít get.  But the casting director of that play remembered him when casting for Poor Little Lambs and asked Bronson to come audition for the show, which then led directly to his being spotted for his role in the film Risky Business.

Did you know . . .
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that Bronson and Mark were both spokespersons for a range of beverages in the 1980s.  Bronson started out promoting Maxwell House coffee before being the center figure in an Americaís Choice campaign for Pepsi while Mark Linn-Baker made a very clever and funny commercial for Coca Cola right before landing his role on Perfect Strangers.

Did you know . . .
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that Bronson had a connection with the Disney company at one point in his career?  Itís not clear if Bronson was specifically under contract with the company, but in the early 90's he made appearances in several Disney-related projects, including Disneyís Christmas Fantasy on Ice, introductory segments for a special holiday sneak preview of The Disney Channel on cable television and even a cover story in Disney Adventures Magazine!

Did you know . . .
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that publicity photos from television shows are often quite collectible, and when collecting black and white stills for Perfect Strangers youíll find that some are marked as property of Warner Bros. while others are marked with the ABC logo and trademark.  This is because Warner Bros. and ABC often did their own publicity for television shows independent of one another!

Did you know . . .
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that right after Bronson auditioned for a role in the play Stones in His Pockets in Los Angeles he auditioned to be the host on the then-iconic television quiz show The Weakest Link?  Itís true!  Bronson could have been the person in the American version of the British game show known forever for uttering the phrase, "You are the weakest link!  Goodbye!"  But when the offer for the play came through, Bronson chose that instead.  He later admitted it was a notable choice of career paths.  "[I realized] by the time I would finish a ĎWeakest Linkí contract, Iíd be a hack forever."

Did you know . . .
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that Bronson had several memorable scenes in the movie True Romance, not the least of which was when he was caught driving with a girl and a bag of cocaine.  As it turned out, this hilarious scene was pretty much ad-libbed by Bronson!

Did you know . . .
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that in 1992 P.S. I Love You! spearheaded a campaign to try to save the series from cancellation?  Itís true!  We sent out letters to fans and press releases to major publications, as well as contacting advocacy groups for good television, trying to drum up support for our cause.  The show was already in production for the final six episodes when we started, and while the campaign did get some publicity it was, unfortunately, unsuccessful.

Did you know . . .
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that Bronson had the chance to work with British comedian / actor / musician Dudley Moore on the farcical film Blame It On the Bellboy?  One magazine asked Dudley Moore how he liked working with Bronson.  "Terrible," Dudley deadpanned, then added seriously, "No, heís a very nice guy.  We struck up a relationship screaming at each other down the halls."

Did you know . . .
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that about the only time the ac
tors from Perfect Strangers ever made it into the tabloid press was when one of them was seen in an interesting outfit at some event or if someone had diet tips or recipes to share.  But at the end of its long run, some stories did turn up in the rag mags about turmoil on the set, usually based around reports about Bronson resenting the girls playing a larger role in the show or throwing tantrums on the set.  As you can imagine, these stories were hugely exaggerated and not a fair representation of the facts at all (in one case a supposed tantrum was nothing more than Bronson losing concentration when someone in the audience made a rudely disruptive noise during filming and he went backstage to get back into character!) but the press had been trying to dig up stories about problems on the set for years and in the final years they used any excuse to make it seem like things had finally boiled over.  Although Bronson did admit in a notable recent interview that he wasnít always the easiest person to get along with in those last years on the show!  Now thatís honesty for you!

Did you know . . .
. . .
that when Bronson worked on the play Zoyaís Apartment during the 1990 Perfect Strangers' summer hiatus of 1990, he had to work with Russian director Boris Morozov.  However, Mr. Morozov didnít speak English, so his stage directions had to be translated through an interpreter.  Despite this, Bronson found the experience exhilarating.  "The irony of it is that he is more communicative, even without the English language, than most English-speaking directors weíve worked with have been," Bronson explained in one print interview.  "You see how physical he is, how tonally fluent.  The language thing is not really a problem.  Itís almost an asset.  When I met him, he described the character to me, and he was moving around so much I had no problem seeing what he wanted.  It was one of the reasons I decided to do the play."

Did you know . . .
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that Bronsonís accent for Serge in Beverly Hills Cop didnít come easily?  One press article described it this way: "Pinchot, who is from South Pasadena and has an Italian mother and Russian father, says he patterned the accent after an Israeli makeup woman he once worked with.  But, he notes, it came out Ďa little Israeli, a little Arabic and a little something from Pluto.í"

Did you know . . .
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that director Martin Brest had to be convinced to do the original Beverly Hills Cop?  And in much the same way, Bronson had to be convinced to play the part of Serge.  As Mr. Brest explained in one print article, "He (Bronson) launched into character and I fell on the ground laughing.  But he wouldn't stop.  I interrupted him and said, ĎBronson, you're the American Peter Sellers.  I beg you, beg you to be in this movie.í (Bronson) said, 'A director on his knees begging me, I love it.  I love it.í"

Did you know . . .
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that Bronson was married to Shanna Reedís character, Sally, in his CBS sitcom The Trouble with Larry.  But since his wife had remarried (thinking Larry had been killed by baboons), all the sexual tension in the show was between Larry and Sallyís sister, Gabriel (played by a pre-Friends Courtney Cox.)  As Bronson explained in one print article, "I love her but she hates me, so this show will have to last five years, because thatís how long it will take to get us into the bedroom."

Did you know . . .
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that there was some speculation from the press before Bronsonís comedy series The Trouble With Larry began as to whether or not he would be doing an accent as the main character.  It became clear pretty quickly that the answer was no, but Bronson made it clear he didnít want to disappoint his Serge and Perfect Strangers fans, either.  "Accents are what people expect, so Iíll do some, but Iíll also do a lot of physical and romantic comedy, which is something new."

Did you know . . .
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that when TGIF came to ABC it marked a new milestone for the network?  In 1991, Full House and Family Matters surpassed The Cosby Show and A Different World (which aired on Thursday nights on NBC) to become the most popular hour of television, drawing nearly 60 percent of viewers under the age of 18.  At the time Perfect Strangers had been on the air for six years but was actually gaining viewers!

Did you know . . .
. . . that in 1992 Mark Linn-Baker co-produced a movie starring Patricia Wettig and Elizabeth McGovern?  Itís true!  The original title of the film was to be Fanny, but eventually it was changed to Me and Veronica.  As Mark explained in one print article, "Itís a character piece about two sisters who are kind of holding each other down . . . until one of them commits suicide."  The film was developed through the New York Stage and Film company.

Did you know . . .
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that for Mark and Bronson, working on Perfect Strangers involved a lot of hard physical effort as well as technical planning?  It should be obvious to anyone who watches the show!  Mark explained in one print article, "To do it, I have to stay in pretty good shape.  My approach to acting is very physical to begin with, and so is Bronsonís.  We spend a week rehearsing these bits, and we go off on our own and hone them down until they work just right."

Did you know . . .
. . . that Perfect Strangers was a team effort involving the actors and the writers working together?  As Mark explained in one print article, "We have a very collaborative process.  After we get the script, we go to work on it, adding stuff and making changes before we return it to the writers.  Iím very happy with our process -- we have a very large input.  We also have a very happy set, which Iím told may be unusual in Hollywood."

Did you know . . .
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that both Bronson and Mark attended Yale?  Mark was several years ahead of Bronson, but even though they didnít meet each other at the school they still had that strong connection of a similar education on the set of Perfect Strangers.  As Bronson explained in one print article, "It makes a big difference, actually.  You already have a similar vocabulary, and you donít have to explain yourself so much.  On every set, you can instantly tell the difference between people who came from acting classes and theater, and all that, and the people who just kind of sprouted out of nowhere out here."

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