Joey Lawrence reports that with a nine-week-old and a four-year-old at home, “I’m lucky if I get four hours of sleep a night” – but he’s not complaining. “Life is great, man,” he wants us to know.
Joey and wife Chandie went through a harrowing experience with their baby daughter Liberty Grace – “Libby” – who had to be delivered prematurely and kept in intensive care for five days due to complications with Chandie’s Rh disease, a blood condition of which they were unaware until she was already pregnant.
Now he’s happy to have moved on to the normal stresses of parenthood, as Libby and big sister Charli are just fine. “It’s weird being a dad. It’s really amazing. It feels like an out-of-body experience at times,” the one-time teen heartthrob says with a smile.
Joey is also busy gearing up to begin production next month on his and Melissa Joan Hart’s forthcoming “Melissa & Joey” half hour comedy for ABC Family. He admits there was a time when the last place he expected to find himself was back on series TV – but that was a five-year career break, a family, “Dancing With the Stars” and “My Fake Fiance” ago. The latter romantic comedy telepic became a record breaker last year, ratings-wise, for ABC Family, which then became starry-eyed over the prospect of bringing Joey and Melissa back together for a series.
Though they have different characters and stories on the series, it’s “inspired by the relationship our characters had in the movie,” he says. He’ll be playing a “manny” – male nanny – to her character’s niece and nephew.
Lawence reveals that his deal also opened the door for him to do business with ABC Family and Disney as a producer. “I sold them a movie, ‘Mr. Everything,’ that’s going to be for ABC Family as well,” he says. “Then we’re working on a film for the feature department.” Not bad for someone sleep-deprived.
ANOTHER PAGE: The “Atlas Shrugged” development saga gets curiouser and curiouser. About four years ago, it appeared Angelina Jolie was a lock to play Dagny Taggart in the adaptation of Ayn Rand’s magnum opus. Producers Howard and Karen Baldwin were getting a script by “Braveheart” writer Randall Wallace and it seemed the four-decade history of attempts to bring the work to screen at last would have a bright ending. But scheduling complexities, along with Angelina’s desire to s-l-o-w-l-y slow her career, had an impact. Reports had it that Anne Hathaway was interested. And Julia Roberts. Then last summer, it was reported that Charlize Theron just might become the screen’s Dagny – the small screen’s, that is – as “Atlas” was being reorganized as a miniseries. But then, Charlize was reported as not going forward with the project. Angelina was still attached. And there it sits.
This could be the mother of all development hell stories.
But wait. Now we get word that casting is underway for “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1” – as a low-budget independent film with all roles open as we write this. The producer is Stephen Polk, who had not returned our calls at press time.
Hey, maybe going smaller is smarter. You never know, maybe what it will take to get “Atlas Shrugged” made is a Flip video and puppets.
SUPER SIZE ME: Fascinating casting notice making the rounds the other day, for several very specific players to appear as projections on a building for a special event being organized by one of the studios. Among the characters to grace the VERY big screen are a martial artist/gymnast “who can do killer moves” such as trampoline kicks, twins who can mirror each other’s movements perfectly, an acrobat and a contortionist. Will this be the start of a new trend in outdoor party decorations?