Tony Danza marks his return to the small screen in “The Good Cop” as Tony Caruso, an ex-cop recently released from prison who lives in Queens with his son, Tony Jr. (Josh Groban), a by-the-book NYPD detective.
The 10-episode “Odd Couple”-type comedy was created by Andy Breckman (“Monk”) and is based on a 2015 Israeli series. It’s Danza’s first starring series role since the short-lived 1997 NBC sitcom “The Tony Danza Show.”
Danza, 67, spoke to The Post about his new series and about the impact of “Who’s the Boss?” (1984-92), in which Danza played live-in housekeeper Tony Micelli, on his life and career.
“The Good Cop” has a jazzy feel to it.
Andy Breckman, who writes it, is really the star. It’s his spark, and he sees it as jazz, as notes. He’s actually said that to me, that he sort of sees it like a song, if you change a little word or note here or there. When I got the script, I just said, “Wow.” The kicker was when they said they were going to cast Josh Groban.
You’re one of the show’s executive producers. Was it a conscious decision to cast Josh, who’s primarily a singer?
Andy Breckman was Josh’s champion. It ends up Josh is terrific. You know what’s great? I have an older son, who’s about 47. We have this incredible relationship because we’ve worked together and I end up [working] with my greatest friend. So I sort of took that and [applied it] to Josh and our characters and he bought right into it.
Does it get old being asked about “Who’s the Boss?”
Nah, I’m really proud of it. It’s amazing how much has changed in my life since then — marriage, wives, kids. [Recently] I was getting a colonoscopy and the anesthesiologist says to me, “You know, when I first came to America I learned how to speak English watching your show.” The other day I had my teeth cleaned and [the hygienist] says the same thing. Ironic — you learned English from me?!
I work with the Police Athletic League [in New York City]. We started a free acting program called “PAL Acting.” We started with 12 kids and we’ve got over 200 kids now. I’m trying to go city-wide with it. One of the things I try to give these kids … when we were kids, and when “Who’s the Boss?” was on, we knew what we were supposed to do — because everywhere I looked there was a good role model. Nowadays, you gotta look for the good role model. Remember there used to be “Family Hour” on TV? You couldn’t show certain things because we were thinking about our children, but we don’t do that anymore. They’ve just become consumers like the rest of us.
Does your connection to PAL have any influence on you taking the role as Tony Sr.?
It was happenstance, but it certainly has an effect on you because you’re around a lot of cops and you gotta make ’em look good. Anyway, Tony Sr. isn’t really a cop anymore — he’s an “adjunct detective,” as he says at one point.
“The Good Cop” Series premiere Friday on Netflix