Dan Murphy on the set of “American Body Shop”.
Every year Hollywood studios and television networks bet their future fortunes on an expensive, nerve-wracking ritual known as pilot season. From January through April, approximately 300 new series are pitched to the studios by hopeful writers and producers. From these, perhaps 50 scripts will actually be commissioned and written, and of those, only six to 10 scripts will be selected for pilot production.
Against these odds, it seems almost miraculous that two recent situation comedy pilots prominently featuring disabled characters — “Special Unit” and “I’m With Stupid” — were not only pitched and scripted, but actually produced. Although neither show was selected for full-series production, getting as far as pilot production seems to indicate that Hollywood’s attitude toward disability is slowly but surely progressing.
Or is it?
From an outsider’s perspective, it’s easy to be encouraged by this apparent progress. But for the small number of disabled actors and writers in the Hollywood trenches, there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
For disabled show-biz veterans Danny Murphy and Jim Troesh, progress requires a fair amount of do-it-yourself ingenuity. Thanks to his big-screen appearances in popular comedies by the Farrelly brothers — Kingpin, Shallow Hal and There’s Something About Mary — Murphy has become Hollywood’s most visible quadriplegic (he jokingly pre