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, February 26

The Neighborhood - "Welcome to the Other Butlers" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Calvin and Tina are looking to remodel their home when they uncover discriminatory processes with their bank’s appraiser. Meanwhile, Marty asks Trey for fatherly advice on co-parenting with Courtney.

Bob Hearts Abishola - "The Devil's Hot Tub" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Abishola and Kemi’s friendship is pushed to the edge when Kemi wants to disregard Nigerian tradition and have a Las Vegas wedding. Also, Bob and the Wheelers have to avert a strike at MaxDot before it sinks the family business.

Complete TV Listings


Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Father Knows Best - The Complete Series The Odd Couple - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Three's Company - The Official 40th Anniversary Collection Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

11/07 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-Sixth Season (Blu-ray) (DVD)
11/14 - Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
12/05 - Father Knows Best - The Complete Series
12/05 - The Odd Couple - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
12/12 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - The Complete Series
12/12 - Looney Tunes Collector's Choice - Volume 2 (Blu-ray)
12/12 - That Girl - The Complete Series
12/15 - Letterkenny - Season 11
12/19 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Official Restored Complete Series
12/22 - Three's Company - The Official 40th Anniversary Collection (includes The Ropers and Three's a Crowd)
01/09 - South Park - Seasons 11-15 (Blu-ray)
01/16 - Ghosts (UK) - Season Five
02/13 - Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
02/27 - The Really Loud House - Season One

That Girl - The Complete Series The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Official Restored Complete Series

More Recent and Upcoming TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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