Hands Go Out to ‘Brothers’
LOS ANGELES - Sometimes Mike Tyson isn't aware of his own power.
"Whoa, this brother is strong!" Daryl "Chill" Mitchell yells as his wheelchair is sent flying a few feet across the set, the result of a good shoulder push from Tyson.
Everyone in the wings - including cast members CCH Pounder, Carl Weathers and former New York Giants star Michael Strahan - laughs and prepares to set up the shot all over again.
Series creators of Fox's new show Brothers (Fridays, 8 ET/PT) are banking on the strength of folks like Tyson and other heavy-hitting guest stars to add to the excitement. Others lined up: Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band, Nancy O'Dell, Snoop Dogg and Kim Kardashian.
"We're covering the gamut of celebrities," says series creator Don Reo. "The guest stars are going to be helpful in attracting people to the show. There's a lot of goodwill surrounding this show, and a lot of people want to come in and help out and try to make it a success."
Even with the success of his comic cameo in the summer flick The Hangover, Tyson seems almost surprised he is considered a "get" as a guest on Brothers.
"I don't know," Tyson says shyly. "A year ago, I never thought my life would be in this direction. I never thought of myself as this comedic figure that people would laugh at. I'm getting into it, I guess."
Before the guest roster was revealed, people already were talking about Brothers because it's one of the few shows on a major network that features a black cast.
"This family is dealing with issues that all families deal with, but it's from a particular perspective, because it's people of color. There hasn't been anything like this on prime-time television or on air in a long time," says Weathers, who plays the dad. "We do it with humor. But this is a very courageous show because it's really edgy. We have conversations that Americans are having anyway - race in America and the economy - and we move it front and center."
In any discussion about the show, it's difficult to avoid talking about race, but cast members are hoping viewers look deeper than color.
The show's premise is recognizable in a time when many Americans are struggling financially and need to scale back. Strahan plays a caricature of himself, a former football player who has lost all of his cash and has to return to Texas and live with his parents in a grandiose house he bought for them years earlier. His brother, played by Mitchell, is running a sports bar that's a shrine to his athletic brother, and ultimately, the two decide to stop bickering and team up to get the family's finances back on track.
"We do have to deal with all of these side angles of African-American life, but this show absolutely reflects what's going on outside," says Pounder, who plays the mother. "For most of us, our dollar is now worth 60 cents. Some people are moving in with their parents to get it together. We're cutting up credit cards. This is real life. And that has nothing to do with being black. That's everyone."