Robin Williams is doing press for Happy Feet Two, and he's apparently in a mood to reminisce. Moviefone got him talking about a lot of his early projects — including how his alien sitcom Mork and Mindy got off the ground:
[Mork] came from Garry Marshall's kid who saw 'Star Wars,' and he went to his father and said, "Dad, why can't they have an alien on 'Happy Days'?" And Garry was like, "I don't know, it will be weird." But I think he did it as kind of a shout out to his son, as a one-off thing, and, I guess, just because it was just so strange. Me acting off of Henry [Winkler], and Mork is there to kidnap The Fonz. It got a huge reaction. The only reason it went on the air as a series was that Paramount had a contractual deal with ABC, where they had an on-the-air twelve-show commitment, with no questions asked. I guess they had another show that fell apart, so they threw this one together: an arranged marriage of me with 'Happy Days,' which tested very well. And Pam Dawber was on a sitcom — she played a nun, I forgot the show — so it was basically an alien and a nun in the photos that they had. And they said, "This is a show!" Because they had to do it and they put it on the air, never thinking that it would last more than twelve episodes...
I went to the meeting with Garry and I kind of did the thing where I started doing a voice. I came into the room and immediately sat on my head, rather than, you know ... he said, "Make yourself at home," so I sat down and put my head, ass up, thinking, Well that's a good way to start with him. And then he said, "Well, it'll be great. You won't be doing Shakespeare, but it will be fun." And he was right. The first year was crazy.
If you ever want to kill an hour or two and blow your mind, watch the TV movie Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Mork and Mindy — in which Chris Diamantopoulos acts his little heart out playing Robin Williams playing Mork. And Taylor Labine from Reaper and Tucker and Dale plays John Belushi!
You can see just how insane it was that Mork randomly became the most successful show on television — until the network completely screwed it up, through some almost inexplicable decisions like moving it to a terrible timeslot and replacing the supporting cast. The first segment of Behind The Camera is embedded above, and the whole thing is in Youtube. Warning: It's compulsive viewing.