Togetherness can be a good thing ... sometimes


There are plenty of troubled, tortured souls out there who produce great comedy. But there are also guys like Mark Feuerstein; he talks lovingly about his wife, his life, his parents and more. Fortunately, he also sees some humor in his parents -- portrayed by Elliott Gould and Linda Lavin in "9JKL," which debuts Monday (Oct. 2) on CBS; here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

When it comes to
family, Mark Feuerstein decided, there can be too much of a good
thing.

But maybe not too
much of a funny thing. His personal chaos led to his CBS series,
“9JKL.”

Back in 2009,
Feuerstein was a grown adult -- 38, married, starring in his fifth
series, “Royal Pains.” But his apartment had his parents on one
side and brother on the other.

“I would wake up
to my father coming in his tidy whities, going, 'Mark, what would you
like for breakfast?” Feuerstein recalled.

Later, after a
15-hour shooting day, his mother was there. “The second my hand
would touch the doorknob, she'd ... go, 'Hi, Mark. Would you like to
come in for a salad?'”

He was well-fed, if
not well-slept. Clearly, this could be a situation-comedy.

Feuerstein's wife
agreed. Dana Klein is a sitcom writer (“Friends,” “Becker”)
who created “9JKL” with him ... and sort of gave her husband a
divorce.

In real life, he
would fly from New York to California on weekends, to be with his
wife and kids. For the show, she said, “we thought having the
parents next door would really complicate his dating life.”

So Feuerstein has
spent time re-assuring his kids – and his parents – that this is
make-believe.

His real childhood
was quite enviable, actually. His dad was a lawyer; his mom was a
teacher whose skill involves nurturing, not cooking. (“She's good
at making reservations.”) He was a state wrestling champion and
went to prep school and Princeton.

But they are also
funny people. Feuerstein talks of “my father's collection of 600
bow ties”; on the set, he points to a refrigerator covered with
Post-it notes. “That is my parents' idea of an address book.”

They're bright,
caring and odd. That's sicom turf.

-- “9JKL,” 8:30
p.m. Mondays, CBS.

-- Debuts Oct. 2; in
the early weeks, it will start at 8:31, with “Big Bang Theory” as
the lead-in.