Michael J. Fox's announcement in 1999 that he had Parikinson's disease stunned the world -- and immediately cast a shadow over his career. Would the beloved Hollywood icon be able to maintain his leading man status as he battled the debilitating illness? Fox has managed to continue working steadily since his official diagnosis, but hacked Sony emails newly released by Wikileaks show just how much the studio had to sacrifice in order to get him back on air in a regular role.
After bit roles in Scrubs (2004), Boston Legal (2006), and Rescue Me (2009), Fox made his triumphant return to TV in 2013 with The Michael J. Fox Show. But the Wikileaks emails show that the process of insuring him for that leading role was difficult and costly.
The show was scheduled to begin filming in early May 2013, but just weeks before, emails were flying back and forth between Sony, reps for Fox, and insurance companies about how they could protect themselves from the potential fallout of having a leading man with a chronic illness.
According to the emails, Sony shopped around for "exclusion buy-back coverage for claims arising from Parkinson's disease," and eventually settled on a policy that would pay them up to $2,500,000 for any losses suffered because of Fox's condition. The deductible was $175,000, with a gross premium of $150,000.
Sony paid the insurance company $150,000 on April 19, after Fox filled out and signed a medical certificate for the insurers, who asserted that any payout would be "limited to claims arising out of Parkinson's disease only … and not any other contributing factors."
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Fox successfully completed filming of the first season with no issues, but his insurance policy ran out on December 1, 2013. After some hedging from NBC, the show was eventually cancelled as well.
And although Sony did not have to cash in on its Fox coverage, they did receive a six-figure insurance payout for another reason: According to the emails, they received a fat check for $133,359.74 from their insurers because of losses suffered to the NYC set during Hurricane Sandy in October 2013.
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