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

Thursday, February 2

Young Sheldon - "Ruthless, Toothless and a Week of Bed Rest" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Sam and Jay’s assistant, Freddie (Mike Lane), purchases ghost-hunting equipment when suspicious activity leads him to theorize the B&B is haunted. Also, Sasappis risks losing his relationship with Jessica (Nichole Sakura) when Freddie sells his car.

Ghosts - "Ghost Hunter" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Sam and Jay’s assistant, Freddie (Mike Lane), purchases ghost-hunting equipment when suspicious activity leads him to theorize the B&B is haunted. Also, Sasappis risks losing his relationship with Jessica (Nichole Sakura) when Freddie sells his car.

Welcome to Flatch - "Flatch: Churn Here" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Kelly and Barb fight to prove why Flatch should be the permanent home of the Butter Bust Museum; Shrub has big news to deliver to Lloyd; Mandy is in charge of blessing the town's animals.

Call Me Kat - "Call Me Fatty Patty" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
In celebration of Max's birthday, Kat, Randi and Carter jointly gift him a recreational vehicle rental so they can go on a road trip together; Gideon decides to join in on the trip; Randi and Carter bicker over where they should live together.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 30)

Thursday, February 2

  • Kathryn Newton (Gary Unmarried) - Catch Kathryn on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Connie Britton (SMILF/Lost at Home/The Fighting Fitzgeralds/Spin City) - Connie appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar (The Crazy Ones) - Sarah is a guest on Watch What Happens: Live at 10pm on Bravo.
  • D. L. Hughley (The Hughleys/Double Rush) - D. L. guest hosts Comedy Central's The Daily Show at 11pm.
  • Skylar Astin (Ground Floor) - Skylar breaks down the TV series So Help Me Todd on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Ali Wentworth (Nightcap) - Ali talks about The Parent Test on ABC's GMA 3: What You Need to Know at 1pm.
  • Salma Hayek Pinault (30 Rock/The Sinbad Show) - Salma discusses the new film Magic Mike's Last Dance on ABC's GMA 3: What You Need to Know at 1pm.
  • Pamela Anderson (Stacked/Home Improvement) - NBC's Today has a one-on-one with Pamela some time between 7-9am.
  • Kal Penn (The Santa Clauses/Sunnyside/We Are Men) - NBC's Today catches up with Kal in the 9am hour.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (October-January)

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)

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)
01/03 - Andy Richter Controls the Universe - The Complete Series (2023 Release)
01/27 - Master of None - Season Three / The Complete Series
More Recent and Upcoming TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

02/01 - Hulu to Revive King of the Hill; Apple TV+ Orders Season 3 of Acapulco
01/31 - Remembering Sitcom Legend Cindy Williams of Laverne & Shirley; HBO's The Last of Us Renewed for Season 2
01/30 - Paramount+ Series Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Launches Feb. 16; Remembering Lisa Loring of The Addams Family
01/29 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 30, 2023)
01/28 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Neil Patrick Harris Reprises Character on How I Met Your Father; Rick and Morty Co-Creator Fired From Series
01/27 - NBC Celebrates Carol Burnett's 90th Birthday in April; Fox Renews The Simpsons, Family Guy and Bob's Burgers for 2 Seasons Each; Remembering Yoshio Yoda of McHale's Navy and Carole Cook of The Lucy Show
01/26 - CBS Renews Bob Hearts Abishola for Season 5; Marc Maron HBO Special Premieres February 11
01/25 - BUZZR Wigs Out for Laughs on Friday; The CW's Comedic Launches
01/24 - CBS Renews The Neighborhood for Season 6; Lifetime's New February Ripped from the Headlines Movies Starring Chrishell Stause and Samantha Mathis
01/23 - OWN Acquires Insecure Starting in February; Season 2 of Bel-Air Gets Tatyana Ali to Recur
01/22 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 23, 2023)
01/21 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Night Court a Success for NBC; South Park Season 26 Premiere Date Set
01/20 - Amazon Freevee Orders The Pradeeps of Pittsburgh; ABC's 20th Anniversary of Jimmy Kimmel Live!
01/19 - TCA Winter 2023 Press Tour: Apple TV+; HBO's Rain Dogs Premieres March 6
01/18 - getTV Reveals Magnum P.I. Timeslot; Onyx Collective Bringing More Programming to Hulu
01/17 - TCA Winter 2023 Press Tour: Hulu, NBCUniversal; Antenna TV Valentine's Day Marathon
01/16 - Zoey 101 Movie Zoey 102 Coming Soon to Paramount+; Starz Picks Up Minx
01/15 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 16, 2023)
01/14 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Pair of Popular Broadcast Sitcoms Renewed for Third Season; Malcolm in the Middle Movie in the Works?
01/13 - TCA Winter 2023 Press Tour: FX; NBC Alters Midseason 2023 Schedule
01/12 - TCA Winter 2023 Press Tour: ABC/Freeform; Antenna TV's Designing Women Super Belle Special
01/11 - All in the Family Coming to MeTV; 80th Golden Globe Winners
01/10 - SAG Nominations Live on Instagram Live; Remembering Earl Boen of It's a Living and Adam Rich of Eight Is Enough
01/09 - Wednesday Is Netflix's Top Hit of the Year; CBS Renews Fire Country
01/08 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 9, 2023)
01/07 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Wednesday to Get Second Season at Netflix; Call Me Kat Pays Tribute to Leslie Jordan
01/06 - SNL Announces Guest Hosts, Including Aubrey Plaza; Paramount+ Orders Series Starring Nicole Kidman
01/05 - Stop-Motion Animated Series Shape Island Premieres January 20 on Apple TV+; ABC's New Year's Eve Coverage is Still Rockin'
01/04 - Full House Removed from MeTV; Return to Outer Banks for Season 3 on February 23 on Netflix
01/03 - getTV Acquires Magnum, P.I.; Game Show Network's Newest Game Show
01/02 - Happy New Year; Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Acquires Drop Dead Diva
01/01 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 2, 2023)