Tag Archives: ABC Family Channel

Joey Lawrence Talks Sexual Tension, Heroic Dogs, and Chips off the Ol’ Block

JOEY LAWRENCE, MELISSA JOAN HARTJoey Lawrence admits he had concerns about the turn of events on his popular “Melissa & Joey” ABC Family sitcom last season – when his and Melissa Joan Hart’s characters went from their sexually charged employer-employee relationship to becoming lovers.  However, he tells us, two episodes into shooting of Season 4, he’s happy about their having taken the risk.

“The show changes completely.  Joe no longer works for Mel anymore, so he’s going to move out into his own place and they’re going to start dating and see how it goes.  Once they finally got together, it changed everything.  They decided to go for it – to give it a shot as a couple.”

He adds, “I think that we have a really good writing team and there was a lot of thought creatively about how we’re going to deal with this and keep the show fresh.  Certainly Mel and Joe getting together does not mean it’s always going to be smooth sailing.  It’s a very interesting way to keep the sparks flying.”

Joey, who will be seen hosting the Hallmark Channel’s Third Annual Hero Dog Awards Oct. 30, reports that when the current 40-episode order of “Melissa and Joey” is finished, the sitcom will have passed the 100 episode mark – a rare feat in today’s television environment.  He acknowledges that going in, he had no idea the series would turn into a long-running success. 

“We developed a core audience, and I think the end of last year our numbers were up 61 per cent.  We found a great little niche and we have a good home.  A lot of people watch live, and then we have an audience that watches online when they choose all around the world.  Really, if you like the multi-camera comedy – and multi-camera romantic comedy, our show is one of the few actually on TV.”

His former “Blossom” sister, Mayim Bialik, is on another one of those few sitcoms, “The Big Bang Theory,” and Joey says, “I’ve seen her from time to time at different events.  We don’t talk a lot but it’s good to see that Mayim and I are still plugging away.”

               Joey was surrounded by stars including Betty White, Pauley Perrette, Ryan O’Neal and Jennifer Coolidge at the American Humane Association’s “Hero Dog Awards” event. 

“It was fun, man, it was fun,” he declares.  “Every year they’ve progressed — they’ve wanted my involvement a little more.  The first year I was a presenter.  Last year I was also working with Miss White.  This year they said, ‘Do you want to host it?’ and I said, ‘Sure, why not?’  I mean, I love dogs and this is a cool show for dog lovers.  Obviously the American Humane Association is doing such outstanding work, and has been for 100 years, you know?  So I said, ‘I’d love it.’  So they let me do my thing, spice things up a little bit, you know, and actually it turned out to be a special evening. 

“If you’re a dog lover, you understand what wonderful creatures these are.  The dogs on the show are amazing.  We have one of the five dogs in the country who can sniff out early signs of cancer.  Their noses are such an incredible tool — they smell in color, as they say.  It’s an amazing thing to see these animals who work like this every day.”

He says it was no problem for him to take on “Hero Dogs” amidst “Melissa & Joey” production.  “They allowed me to be myself up there.  We shot it on Saturday night so we were able to do it around my work, so everything worked out fine.”

Of course, Joey is a dog lover himself – as are his and wife Chandie’s seven and three-year-old daughters.  “We have an Australian Shepherd-black Lab mix named Tiffany, and we have a Golden Retriever named Leo,” he reports.

As for whether either of his girls are also showing signs of sharing his love of performing, Joey replies, “They have.  My seven-year-old is already starting to ask questions about it.  She’d like to be in a commercial, she tells me all the time.”

What does he say?

“Well, my mom allowed me to follow my dream.  It would be really wrong of me to prevent my daughter from doing it.  I tell her, ‘We’ll think it over and maybe in a couple of years, when you’re nine and can do something over the summer, well give it a shot.  You know it’s not just going out and doing a commercial, it’s going out it’s having to audition, to show you know what you’re doing.’  She said, ‘Oh yeah. I have to go try out for it.’

According to him, his elder daughter is “really, really, really extroverted and she loves to sing and stuff.  But I come from a different perspective and a different time.  It’s such a different world today than when I was growing up.  Then, it was all about work.  Now, it’s more about, ‘How do I become famous?’  I want to teach her old school: it’s going to be about the work.”  He told her, “It’s going to take a lot of work, but if it’s something you really want to try, maybe we’ll see what pops.  It could be cool.”

Lea Thompson Surprised by Size of ‘Switched at Birth’ Success

Lea Thompson, just wrapping the first 10 episode season of her hit ABC Family Channel “Switched at Birth” series, reports she’s going to get in some quality rest and relaxation time before diving back into work.

“My daughters and I going to rush off to Europe.  I’ve been planning it for hours and hours,” says Lea, whose 20-year-old daughter, Madeline, just graduated with honors from The New School university in New York.  “We’re going to Spain, France and England.  We’re really excited,” she says.

It’s been an intense stretch of work for Lea over the last couple of years.  She’s done a string of big and small screen movies — including a role in Clint Eastwood’s forthcoming “J. Edgar” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and her own Hallmark Movie Channel original, “The Cabin,” a romantic comedy coming up July 30.

And then there’s “Switched at Birth,” with its record-breaking premiere and subsequent high ratings.  “We were really surprised by how well it did,” she admits.  Despite what could have been a campy or cheesy premise — rich and poor teenage girls discover they were given to the wrong parents when they were born — Lea stresses, “It’s not pandering.  There’s a class struggle.  There’s a racial struggle.  There’s a struggle with a child who has a disability, who is deaf — and people are really signing on the show.  People have to think a little bit more than they might have expected.”  And they must like it.  Fancy that.

About the finale segment they’re just finishing now — she says it’s a cliffhanger.

MEANWHILE:  Lea also has her “Mayor Cupcake” comedy coming out on DVD next month.  She executive produced the romp, in which she plays a homemaker who becomes the mayor of her small town.  “It really is cute.  My daughter Maddie gets to sing in it, a song from ‘The Breakfast Club,’ actually.”  The scene became an unplanned tribute to late “Breakfast Club” creator John Hughes, she says.  Lea’s leading man is none other than “Breakfast Club” alumnus Judd Nelson.  She and her husband, director Howard Deutch, met on another Hughes movie, “Some Kind of Wonderful.”   The day of Maddie had to sing the song, Hughes had just died, “and we were all crying,” Lea recounts.  Lea’s 16-year-old daughter, Zoey, is in the movie as well.

Dean Cain Talks Slapstick, Humor, and Paris Hilton as a Dog

Dean Can with Real Rich Bitch ABC Family Photo

Dean Cain, who showed off his slapstick capabilities as a bumbling burglar in last year’s “The Dog Who Saved Christmas,” says he wasn’t surprised when ABC Family decided to make a sequel to the comedy that features the voice of Dean’s buddy, Mario Lopez, as a yellow Labrador.

“It’s such a simple concept and so much fun to shoot, why not make another?” he says of this Sunday’s (11/28) “The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation” — which also features the voice of Paris Hilton as a French poodle.

Dean’s 10-year-old son Christopher was on hand for both shoots, he lets us know.  “He’s a big reason I wanted to do this.  He and his schoolmates can watch it….Very few things get bigger laughs in my household than me falling on my tail.”

Dean says he didn’t learn about Paris Hilton’s involvement in the movie until after wrapping his role.  The fact she chose to play a poodle, he feels, shows “her sense of humor.  That’s the whole thing.  It kind of tells you she understands the whole deal.  Like when I played Superman — you have to be in on the joke.”

Jeff Schenk, the executive producer of “The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation” chalks up Hilton’s casting to fast work and some serendipity.  “She travels nonstop, and we happened to catch her at a time she had just gotten back to L.A..  With her you get the feeling there are a lot of people coordinating things for her.  We said, ‘Any time in July’ and her agent — her agent is really the one who pushed it through — said, ‘Next week.’  So we had to be ready for her in just five days.”

Paris Hilton

As for why she said yes, well, Paris talks about her beloved grandmother’s French poodle being her inspiration.  Schenk also believes, “People see this fun-loving blond, they don’t realize that she is an incredibly astute businesswoman.  She certainly knows all about branding herself. We have this family brand.  We had the track record with the first movie; you can see it and see user reviews of people who enjoyed it.  She took all that into account.”  Then, “She came in prepared and did her work.  I wish I could say that about everyone I work with.”