Tag Archives: Bill Engvall

Bill Engvall Has No Trouble Working Clean for Family-Friendly Movieguide Awards

Bill EngvallHosting an award show takes superhuman nerve, as funnyman Bill Engvall can attest. “You only have two or three minutes up front to try to get ’em,” observes Engvall, who serves as emcee for the second year in a row on tomorrow night’s, Feb. 21, 23rd Annual Movieguide Awards on Reelz.

Yes, in addition to the mighty grand finale of awards season coming up Sunday, Feb. 22 — The Oscars — the weekend brings us a favorite awards presentation among fans of family and faith-based fare. As host, Engvall must be funny while keeping things nice and clean. This is no problem for the Blue Collar Comedy Tour and “Bill Engvall Show” veteran. Humor abounds in this realm, he says. In fact, you can find some of the funniest stuff that happens in church: “Obviously, God has a sense of humor. … Look around.”

Still, he admits he was a little tense about hosting the Movieguide Awards when the idea was presented to him initially. “The worst audience a comedian can have is industry people. It’s not like doing a concert. That said, comedians love the opportunity to do awards shows, so there’s a dichotomy.” The Oscar show is cracked up as toughest of all, yet “I’d love the opportunity to do the Oscar show,” Engvall confesses.

Engvall finds it encouraging that wholesome fare has found a hungry audience of late, as the burgeoning ratings of Hallmark Channel movies and other recent family-friendly television programming shows. In January, NBC made a deal with Dolly Parton involving a series of family-friendly made-for-TV movies. Could it be the start of a bandwagon effect?

“Man, I hope so,” says Engvall. “I’m not preaching here, but it’s unfair to drop something disgusting into a show that can be seen by kids — the kind of thing where you go, ‘OK, that’s just for shock value.’ You don’t have to show them actually slit the man’s throat. You don’t have to be that explicit.”

He adds, “I’m not a prude — I love a good dirty joke as much as anyone — but the language on TV nowadays, I’d have had soap in my mouth for using it.”

Engvall has the big screen “Catching Faith” movie in post-production and he’d love to do more family films. Meanwhile, he’s busy throughout the year doing his standup — and enjoying his own family, wife Gail and their young adult offspring, daughter Emily and son Travis.

The latter is soon to graduate from Northern Arizona University and the Engvalls will be out en force. Attending his son’s graduation necessitated Engvall withdrawing as host of the Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Michigan, a move that generated a surprising amount of headlines.

“Some people were upset that I’m going to my son’s graduation,” he acknowledges. “It’s a huge moment in our lives. After all the investment of time and money, to see it come to fruition? Of course we’re going to be there to see him walk across the stage.”

He goes on, “Some of these celebrities don’t realize that one of these days, this will be gone. If your career ends tomorrow, what do you have? You have your family.”

That’s family-friendly indeed.

Bill Engvall’s Latest Comedy Series Efforts Yield Mixed Results

bounty hunters animatedBill Engvall is enjoying the positive response he’s getting to his fun new CMT “Bounty Hunters” animated series with Blue Collar Comedy cohorts Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy – but he isn’t holding out much hope for his latest live action sitcom effort.   That’s Engvall’s “Do It Yourself” TBS pilot, and he says, “I’m counting it as out, because I haven’t heard anything.”  Adds the comic and actor, whose “Bill Engvall Show” ran on TBS for three years, “It’s kind of sad because it was a really fun pilot, and it came out really well.”

The pilot, shot this spring, could still get picked up elsewhere, he acknowledges, “which would be great.  It has a great cast and storyline, and I think it could really be successful.”  The premise has him and Ben Rappaport (“Outsourced”) playing a one-time Circuit City executive and a laid-off math teacher, respectively, who find themselves working side-by-side at a big box store – certainly a relatable situation for all too many in this downsized, post-recession economy.

“That’s what I thought, and everybody seemed to like it,” he says.  “But that’s just business.  You never know.  I never count the check until it’s in the bank.”

Bill EngvallMeanwhile, he’s got plenty on his plate.  There’s his ongoing string of stand-up commitments.  There’s another project he has in the works at TNT.  And there’s “Bounty Hunters,” which allowed him and Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy to work together again, despite the fact Jeff’s in Atlanta and Dan’s in Lincoln.”  (Larry the Cable Guy’s given name is Daniel Whitney.)  “We recorded them separately, but you’d never know it.  It would have been nice to have done it with all of us in the same room.  Maybe we can if we do more,” he says, and laughs.  “Try to get those guys out of their comfort zone.  It’s a fun little cartoon.  It came out funny.  You always worry about that – if the script is going to come across.  I think it did.”

Engvall would like to see “Bounty Hunters” springboard him into more voiceover work.  He’s done episodes of shows including “Family Guy” and says, “I enjoy the process.”

He’d really enjoy being back in the live action sitcom game.  “I love doing the stand-up but TV allows me to be home,” he says.  And as for whether he needed time away to recharge after “The Bill Engvall Show” ended, he says flatly, “No.  If they’d have said, ‘We’ve got another one for you starting next week,’ I’d have been there.  I love acting.”

SAD STORY:  As the “Glee” company struggles to come to grips with the heroin death of 31-year-old Cory Monteith, we can’t help remembering just four years ago when the charismatic young performer was new to fame and awash in excitement over his big break.  He could hardly believe he was getting the chance to sing on television, since, as he told this column, “I’ve had zero training whatsoever.  This is the first thing I ever did with singing.  I’ve been a drummer all my life, so I have played music,” he added.  Monteith admitted that the demands of his role – which included more acting than he had originally thought – were a little intimidating at first.  However, even a few weeks in, he said he could tell a big difference with his performing.  “What you feed grows.  What you work on improves,” he noted.  “It’s just gotten better and better….

“For me to now have this platform and to have the opportunities that this show is presenting me is a dream come true.”  What a tragedy that his dreams have been cut short.

janine turnerHELLO, AGAIN:  Janine Turner has wrapped work as Sir Anthony Hopkins’ wife in the 2014 supernatural thriller, “Solace” with Colin Farrell.  The actress, who rose to fame on “Northern Exposure,” has been pouring her energies into writing and political activities in recent years, so it’s nice to see her back before the cameras.  She loved working with Hopkins, whom she found “a brilliant and generous actor as well as a man of great character.”  He plays a retired civilian analyst for the FBI who has psychic abilities and who – of course – gets drawn back into his old world when called upon to help solve a string of murders.  Sharon Lawrence, Abbie Cornish and Jeffrey Dean Morgan also star.

Larry the Cable Guy Wants to Show Off Good Americans

Larry the Cable Guy History Channel photo

Larry the Cable Guy understands that he isn’t an obvious fit for his latest television home.  In fact, declares the Blue Collar Comedy stalwart, “When I tell people I’m going to be on The History Channel, it’s like Charlie Sheen saying he’s doing commercials for eHarmony.com.”

Well, it’s not THAT bad a fit.  Larry’s “Only in America,” debuting Feb. 8, has him traversing the nation, lending his comedic presence to an exploration of the history behind assorted Americana.  (E.g.: What government action led to NASCAR?  Prohibition.)  Along the way, he found himself jumping a frog in Calaveras Country, being pulled behind a boat in a lawn chair mounted on water skis, and being rolled around inside a barrel by a bull in a rodeo ring.

Larry tells us he wanted to do more than discover the history behind some of our all-American stuff and nonsense, however.  He recounts that when he met with History Channel brass about the prospective show, he told them, “I want to show the people themselves — the good Americans out there.”  In his act, he talks about feeling great since he quit watching the news, which “only covers the bad aspects of daily life.  It makes you think kids are all bad, people are all bad.  The great majority of Americans are just trying to get along, working together, eating together — red, black, yellow, green, it doesn’t matter.  We’re a melting pot.  That’s what makes this such a great culture.  So that’s what I did, showed as many people as I could in big towns and small towns.”

Not to mention the USS Nimitz and the Marines doing a storm-the-beach exercise.  “It was really cool.  When you think of all these people who are doing things like that, who are in charge of keeping us safe — they’re all 18, 19 years old and they’re so good at what they do and so disciplined.  It restores your faith in youth to see these young men and women.”

MEANWHILE:  Larry is in the middle of a long string of concert dates with cohorts Jeff Foxworthy and Bill Engvall.  And he has Pixar’s “Cars 2” coming out this June, with his popular rusty tow truck, Mater, in a much-expanded role from the first movie.

“It is a big part for him.  ‘Cars 2′ is an action movie — a 180 degree turnaround from the other one,” says the man whose children refer to the character as Daddy Mater.  “I just saw a three-minute clip the other day and it had four or five good belly laughs in it.  I just couldn’t stop laughing.  It’s really cool that Mater is the focal point.”

As for his feelings about this great run of work?  “I’ve got mixed feelings about it,” he admits.  “I love doing it all these projects, but on the other hand, I wish I had a week at home now and then to hang with the kids.  And while I’m on the road, I do get tired.”

But there’s no rest stop in sight for ol’ Mater.

“Tomorrow I have voiceovers to do, the next day promotions.  The day after Super Bowl Sunday, I head to Orlando, Florida to start shooting ‘Tooth Fairy 2.’  At least I’ll be in one spot for awhile.”

Bill Engvall Gets Series Kudos From Country Crowd

Bill Engvall

Bill Engvall

Bill Engvall, who recently hosted the CMT Music Awards, tells us the biggest shock was discovering how many country singers are tuning into his TBS sitcom.  “I was amazed at how many of the country stars came up to me and said, ‘Hey, man!  I just wanted you to know our family watches your show and we love it,'” says Engvall of his self-titled series, which returns July 18 for a third season.

For an industry that is big on family values, Engvall feels it’s a good fit.  “I think what sets us apart is the fact that we don’t delve into the gutter.  What drives me crazy is when I see a show that has so much potential and then there’s potty humor and smart-ass kids.  I just don’t think that’s real,” he notes.  “There’s a lot out there that can make you laugh that isn’t dirty.”

Luckily for the fans, Engvall claims this season will be one of their best.  “Last year was fun and I didn’t know if we could top it, but we did.  The writers really stepped up this year.  I think the show is funnier.  I love that in the first episode we deal with what’s going on in the economy in that the family is affected by tighter money issues,” says Engvall, who also uses personal experiences from his own family for storylines.  “I don’t mind doing that because that’s one of the reasons for my success in stand-up comedy.  I keep my stuff very relatable.  I think it’s important that I keep my finger on the pulse of the show because in the end it’s my name on the show.”  And what a good feeling that is!  “Every day I sit outside of my dressing room and I look over at this big stage door that says “The Bill Engvall Show,” and I hope that never gets old.”

Emily-Fortune Feimster

Def Leppard’s Rick Allen Hero to Amputee Vets

Rick Allen

Rick Allen

With Def Leppard setting off on a cross country tour this summer, you’d better believe that some of the fans most looking forward to catching one of their shows are Iraq War veterans — who’ve found drummer Rick Allen to be a source of inspiration and a friend. 

Allen’s story is well-known: he suffered the loss of his arm in an auto accident in 1984, then managed a remarkable comeback, remaining among the best rock drummers of all time by training himself to drum with one arm and foot pedals.  Rick and his singer-songwriter-musician wife Lauren Monroe started their Raven Drum Foundation in 2001, aiming to help other amputees.  In recent years, since he first went to visit wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Hospital, they’ve focused their energies on veterans, “using the power of the drum as the center of the healing modality,” as Lauren puts it.

Partnering with Wounded Warrior Project and other nonprofits geared to helping injured vets, Raven Drum has worked with hundreds of returning Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers via their Resiliency Veteran Program.  Rick and Lauren have established programs that incorporate drumming — drum circles — rhythm, movement, dance, Yoga, breathing techniques, and meditation.  Their activities have included visiting amputee vets at locales such as the Center for the Intrepid rehab facility in San Antonio, TX.  He’s demonstrated his drum technique and displayed his ingeniously adapted drum kit backstage at Def Leppard shows.           

 Rick recalls the time lead singer Joe Elliott “stopped talking mid-sentence because out in the audience he saw all these arms and legs going up in the air.”

“They were holding up their prosthetics,” says Lauren.

“It was fantastic to see them having such a great time, just being able to be themselves and really be happy with their new bodies,” he adds.

Rick certainly has learned to take good care of himself.  Back when he first lost his arm and was suffering terrible inflammation, he learned a diet that was rich in herbs with anti-inflammatory properties.  He recently talked about that with nutrition guru Catie Norris for her forthcoming “The Cure is in the Kitchen With Catie” TV show.  “She’s been a huge help to myself and Lauren – to everyone she’s come in contact with,” says Rick.  “It’s common sense, you know, that most illnesses can be helped through diet.  Catie is an incredible woman – living proof of what she says.”   

Cure is in the Kitchen

MEANWHILE:  Rick is heading off to the U.K. this week to rehearse for a string of concerts in Ireland and the U.K. — including a return to Castle Donington, where he played his first post-accident gig in 1986.  “It was fantastic, the support I felt from the crowd.  I had my family there, and obviously everybody in the band.  I’m anticipating going back.”  Rick and Lauren are also anticipating the release of “A Chant for Healing…the Oneness Chant” online in June.  In addition to her website, “You’ll definitely be able to find it on iTunes,” she says. 

 Allen demonstrates drumming

THE VIDEOLAND VIEW:  Nancy Travis reports that making “Safe Harbor,” the Hallmark Channel movie she has premiering Saturday (5/30), made her all the more appreciative of her regular series gig on “The Bill Engvall Show.”   

The true story of a couple who planned to spend their retirement years exploring the world on their sailboat , but wound up helping troubled teenaged boys, “Safe Harbor” required long, arduous days of shooting and shivering.  Though the story takes place in Florida, it was shot in L.A., with the cast in summer clothes pretending to be warm during cold January days.

“We’re going full throttle at ‘The Bill Engvall Show’ and I’m loving every minute of it.  The whole sitcom life – going to work at 10, coming home at three – if you’re lucky enough that it comes to you, you have to grab onto it with both hands,” she notes. 

Even so, she makes it clear she feels “Safe Harbor” was worth the trouble.

“I love the whole notion of a couple having a plan for their lives, then fate throws something in their path and completely re-routs them – but turns out to be just what they were looking for.  A favor becomes their whole life’s journey,” she says of Doug and Robbie Smith, played by Treat Williams and herself, respectively.  The Smiths agreed to take in some juvenile hall-bound kids for a few days – a favor that eventually led to their founding of Jacksonville, Florida’s Safe Harbor Boys Home some 25 years ago.

“I didn’t have an opportunity to meet with her before we started shooting, but I’m a mother myself and I saw in her such a mothering quality,” says Travis.  “I thought about what it would be like if I didn’t have children, couldn’t have children, and believed that part of life had passed me by – but then get to be the mother to so many children.”

JUSTIN TIME:  Justin Guarini, who has been busy covering “American Idol” all season on the TV Guide Channel, tells us it’s one of the things he looks forward to most when not busy making music.  “I love it.  It keeps me in tune with ‘Idol’ every single year.  I’m really proud of the job we do week in and week out because I feel like it really does give people an inside perspective on a show that they really love,” says Guarini, who seems to have been born to be on camera.  “My mother was one of the first 200 people to start up CNN.  She was one of the first anchorwomen so I would go hang out with her on set.  I’ve grown up around cameras my entire life.”  Next up for the curly haired host now that the Fox singing competition won’t be back ’til January?  “I’m in the studio right now putting together my own music.” 

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster