Friday, December 03, 2021

Fri-Yay: It’s Always Sunny Returns, Bold and Funny as Ever; Jon Stewart Joins Live in Front of a Studio Audience for The Facts of Life; Remembering Eddie Mekka of Laverne & Shirley

It's time for another edition of Fri-Yay! That means we will take a look back on some sitcom happenings in recent days or weeks or other fun sitcomy stuff. It's a sitcom lover's paradise! Happy Fri-Yay!

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

by Vincent

This week, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia returned for its landmark 15th season on FX. The show has remained one of the funniest shows on TV through and through, and even though it isn't always as consistent as it was in its prime, it's incredible that it still manages to be as funny and consistent as it has been.

Always Sunny season 15 has promised to bring some of the realities of our world to the show's twisted universe. Being the show's first season since 2019, the world has obviously become a very different place since then, and without giving too much away, the premiere addresses this in typically funny Always Sunny ways. The ending of the episode in particular is one for the ages, and shows that even as the world changes, Always Sunny will always be its twisted, reliable self.


Jon Stewart

Live in Front of a Studio Audience: The Facts of Life and Diff'rent Strokes adds more star power to its cast ahead of the live show airing on ABC, Tuesday, Dec. 7 (8:00-9:30 p.m. EST). Jon Stewart takes on a mystery role in The Facts of Life episode. Who will he play? You'll have to tune-in to see! There will be other special cameos as well. Still no word on which episodes are being recreated, but for Diff'rent Strokes the word is that it will be "Willis' Privacy" from season one which had Arnold as Super Arnold.

The live special event produced by Sony Pictures Television will feature reenactments of the hit series The Facts of Life, created by Dick Clair and Jenna McMahon, and Diff'rent Strokes, created by Bernie Kukoff and Jeff Harris, and will reunite executive producers Norman Lear, Jimmy Kimmel, Brent Miller, Kerry Washington, Will Ferrell, Justin Theroux and Jim Burrows. Previously announced cast members taking on the famed Diff'rent Strokes roles include John Lithgow, who will play Mr. Drummond; Kevin Hart, assuming the role of Arnold; and Damon Wayans, who will play Willis. The Facts of Life will feature Jennifer Aniston, playing the role of Blair; Gabrielle Union, taking on the role of Tootie; Allison Tolman, who will play Natalie; Kathryn Hahn, recreating the role of Jo; and Ann Dowd, who will tackle the role of Mrs. Garrett in both episodes.

Eddie Mekka

Actor Eddie Mekka, who was best known for his role as Carmine Ragusa on Laverne & Shirley, has died. He died in Newhall, California, on November 27. Mr. Mekka was 69.

Laverne & Shirley

Mekka starred as Carmine Ragusa on the 1976-1983 ABC sitcom Laverne & Shirley. He appeared in 150 of the 178 episodes during the show's eight seasons. Carmine was Shirley's (Cindy Williams) high-school sweetheart and on-again, off-again romance. He was known by the name "The Big Ragoo" and was a part-time boxer and former Golden Gloves champion. He owns a dance studio and was constantly working to make it big as a dancer and singer. Mekka appeared as Carmine Ragusa in two episodes of Happy Days. The cast of Laverne & Shirley also included Penny Marshall, Michael McKean, David L. Lander, Phil Foster, Betty Garrett (1976-1981), Carole Ita White (1976-1977), Ed Marinaro (1980-1981) and Leslie Easterbrook (1980-1983).

Blansky's Beauties - Eddie Mekka and Nancy Walker

He starred as Joey DeLuca on the short-lived 1977 ABC sitcom Blansky's Beauties. Joey DeLuca was the choreographer of the Las Vegas showgirls' big numbers at the Oasis Hotel. He was a younger cousin to Carmine Ragusa, Mekka's 1950s-era character on Laverne & Shirley. The Garry Marshall created and produced series also starred Nancy Walker, Caren Kaye, Lynda Goodfriend, Johnny Desmond, Scott Baio, George Pentecost, Taaffe O'Connell, Rhonda Bates, Bond Gideon, Gerri Reddick, Shirley Kirkes, Antoinette Yuskis, Jill Owens, Elaine Bolton and Pat Morita.

Some of his sitcom guest appearances included The Love Boat (3 episodes), The Munsters Today, Family Matters (2 episodes), California Dreams, Dream On, Weird Science, The Jamie Foxx Show, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Pastor Greg (2 episodes) and Childrens Hospital.

Some of his drama guest appearances included Fantasy Island (4 episodes), Moonlighting, True Blue, The Big Easy, Power Rangers Wild Force, 24, Crossing Jordan and ER. His soap opera guest appearances included Guiding Light, The Bold and the Beautiful, Sunset Beach and The Young and the Restless.

He had a small role as the dance partner of Mae (Madonna) in the bar in the 1992 film A League of Their Own, which was directed by Penny Marshall. Some of his other film credits included Top of the World (1997), Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star (2003), Dreamgirls (2006) and C Me Dance (2009). He played Detective Murdoch in the 1998 Fox television movie Catch Me If You Can.

Mekka was also known for his theater work. He was nominated for Broadway's 1975 Tony Award as Best Actor (Musical) for The Lieutenant. He performed in Hairspray at the Luxor in Las Vegas, Nevada and in a national tour of Grease with Cindy Williams.

Eddie Mekka

Mr. Mekka was a man of many talents as an actor, dancer and singer. He was very funny and memorable as Carmine Ragusa. We thank him for the laughs and entertainment he brought us. He will be greatly missed.

Share your memories on our Laverne & Shirley message board. View photos in our galleries.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Monday, December 5

The Neighborhood - "Welcome to Our Time" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Calvin weighs the pros and cons of making a major life change. Also, Marty turns to Dave for help dealing with a troubling discovery.

Bob Hearts Abishola - "Idle Nigerians" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Abishola’s visit to the sock factory during a nurse’s strike puts extra pressure on Bob to make the factory successful.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of December 5)

Monday, December 5

  • Selena Gomez (Only Murders in the Building/Wizards of Waverly Place) - Watch Selena on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Sebastian Maniscalco (How to Be a Bookie) - Sebastian appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • John David Washington (Ballers) - John is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Lea Michele (The Mayor/Scream Queens) - Lea will be on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Janelle James (Abbott Elementary) - Janelle appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Kenan Thompson (Kenan/Kenan & Kel) - Kenan is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS. He will also be on E! News on E! at 11:30pm.
  • Annaleigh Ashford (B Positive) - Annaleigh will be on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • ReneĆ© Rapp (The Sex Lives of College Girls) and Alyah Chanelle Scott (The Sex Lives of College Girls/Reboot) - ReneĆ© and Allyah are guests on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Gabourey Sidibe (Difficult People/The Big C) - Gabourey unpacks the new holiday film All I Didn't Want for Christmas on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family/The Class) - Jesse talks about Take Me Out on CBS Mornings some time between 7-9am and on NBC's Today in the 10am.
  • John Stamos (Fuller House/Grandfathered/Jake in Progress/Full House/You, Again?) - NBC's Today has the Citi Music Series with John and The Beach Boys some time between 7-9am.
  • Sarah Chalke (Roseanne/Scrubs/How I Met Your Mother/Mad Love/How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)) - Sarah talks about Netflix's Firefly Lane on Access Daily with Mario & Kit, so check your local listings.
  • Liza Lapira (9JKL/Cooper Barrett's Guide to Surviving Life/Super Fun Night/Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23/Traffic Light) - Liza is a guest on PIX11 Morning News on WPIX in New York at 9:40am.
  • Kel Mitchell (Game Shakers/Kenan & Kel) - Kel appears on PIX11 Morning News on WPIX in New York at 10:30am.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (September-December)

Abbott Elementary - The Complete First Season Frasier - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Ghosts - Season One The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - 70th Anniversary Ultimate Christmas Collection Hogan's Heroes - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

09/06 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray) (DVD)
09/20 - Kim's Convenience - The Complete Series
09/27 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Five / The Complete Season Six
10/04 - Mr. Mayor - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) (DVD)
10/04 - The Munsters - Marineland Carnival with The Munsters TV Cast
10/18 - Abbott Elementary - The Complete First Season
11/08 - Frasier - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
11/08 - Young Rock - Season Two (Blu-ray) (DVD)
11/15 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Seven / The Complete Season Eight
11/22 - That '70s Show - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
11/29 - Ghosts - Season One (Blu-ray) (DVD)
12/06 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - 70th Anniversary Ultimate Christmas Collection
12/13 - And Just Like That... - The Complete First Season
12/13 - Hogan's Heroes - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
More Recent and Upcoming TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

12/04 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of December 5, 2022)
12/03 - SitcomsOnline Digest: First Look at That '90s Show; Warner Bros. Discovery Makes More Changes, Including Ending Live News at HLN
12/02 - Classic Holiday Game Show Block on GSN; Zooey Deschanel Gets Discovery+ Series
12/01 - Apple TV+ Announces Premiere Date for Shrinking; Disney Producing Animated Sitcom
11/30 - That '90s Show Premieres Jan. 19; The CW Midseason 2023 Schedule
11/29 - Master Minds Returns Jan. 9 on Game Show Network; Remembering Sons & Daughters Co-Creator Nick Holly, Clarence Gilyard Jr., Ron Masak and Others We Recently Lost
11/28 - The Game Revival Season 2 Trailer, Premieres Dec. 15; Reno 911! Holiday Movie on Comedy Central
11/27 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 28, 2022)
11/26 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Kelsey Grammer Explains Why David Hyde Pierce Won't Return to Frasier Reboot; NBC to End Year with Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton
11/25 - George Lopez Reunion on Lopez vs. Lopez on Dec. 16; Marc Maron Gets HBO Comedy Special
11/24 - 2022 Thanksgiving TV Marathons on TV This Holiday Weekend Include Soap Every Episode Marathon
11/23 - Fran Drescher Hosts The Nanny Marathon on COZI TV; Fox Gets Celebs for TMZ Christmas Special
11/22 - NBC Schedules New Game Show During Holidays; Peacock Teams Up with Comedian Sean Patton
11/21 - Letterkenny Returns for Season 11 on Hulu; The White Lotus Season 3 Ordered
11/20 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 21, 2022)
11/19 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Vicki Lawrence to Guest Star in Call Me Kat; Grey's Anatomy Gets a Little Less Grey
11/18 - Bounce Orders New Sitcom for Spring 2023; Remembering Hogan's Heroes Star Robert Clary, The Bob Newhart Show and Taxi Co-Creator David Davis, and Head of the Class Co-Creator Richard Eustis
11/17 - MeTV's A Very Merry MeTV Schedule; HBO Max's Sort Of Returns Dec. 1
11/16 - Comedic Stars Line Up for Baking It Holiday Special; Atsuko Okatsuka Gets First HBO Special
11/15 - CBS Midseason 2023 Schedule; Oprah Interviews Abbott Elementary Megastar
11/14 - Netflix Books Sebastian Maniscalco Comedy Special; Hallmark Channel Signs Hunter King for Movies
11/13 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 14, 2022)
11/12 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Midseason Premiere Dates Set for Reboots of 80s Classics; Abbott Elementary Still Strong in Ratings
11/11 - Chris Rock Live Comedy Special Set for Netflix; Hulu Renews This Fool for Season 2
11/10 - Fox Orders New Animated Comedy for 2024; Netflix Picks Up Reggaeton Comedy Neon
11/09 - NBC Midseason 2023 Schedule; Apple TV+ Renews Bad Sisters for Season 2
11/08 - ABC Midseason 2023 Schedule; Fox 2023 Midseason Schedule
11/07 - Showtime and Paramount Network Set Simultaneous Premiere; Jeff Dunham's New Comedy Central Special
11/06 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 7, 2022)
11/05 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Pluto TV Adding 6,300 Episodes from CBS Vault; Tuca & Bertie Cancelled
11/04 - Freeform Announces Premiere Dates for Winter; ABC Broadcasts Special Airing of Reasonable Doubt