Tag Archives: Joey Lawrence

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.”

Two Legged and Four Legged Stars Shine at Hero Dog Awards

Betty White, Pauley Perrette, Karen Ann and hero dogsBetty White, Jennifer Coolidge, Naomi Judd and Pauley Perrette were among the pack of celebrities who turned out to honor some of the best and brightest in the canine community at the Third Annual Hero Dog Awards the other night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.  Hosted by Joey Lawrence, the event will be shown on The Hallmark Channel October 30.

Betty proved once again that at age 91, her comedy chops remain in formidable shape, as she and Pauley presented the Guide Dog Award — and got some of the biggest laughs of the night.  She loves anyone who has a leg on each corner, she said.  Coolidge riffed on all the things she could give up in life in order to donate more money to dog charities, starting with the top money-sucker on her list, boyfriends, and including bikini waxes (now that she has no boyfriends, why bother?) and drinking out on the town on Tuesdays.

Las Vegas Headliner of the Year Frankie Moreno and his hot-looking coed band had the house on its feet. Ryan O’Neal and son Redmond were there to accept special recognition on behalf of the late Farrah Fawcett, for her support of shelter dog adoptions.

But the real stars of the evening were the super dogs.  For example, Search and Rescue Dog honoree John D.   He is one of the canines whose uncanny cancer-detecting ability is leading researchers toward early detection protocols for ovarian, thyroid and other cancers.  He is also a wonder dog when it comes to finding missing persons.  The story of how John D found the body of a boy who had drowned, then went to the boy’s waiting mom and leaned hard against her to let her know, had more than a few people in tears.

So did the story of Law Enforcement/Arson Dog Lakota, who was remarkable among K9 crime fighters.  After they got into a horrific accident, his human partner refused to give up hope on the dog, and a whole community wound up pulling for – and contributing to – Lakota’s return to ambulatory shape.

The over-all Hero Dog Award winner, Therapy Dog Elle, makes a statement in her own right – about what marvelous pets and helpers Pit Bulls can be. For anyone who has ever cared about man’s and woman’s best friend, the Hero Dog Awards promise a heart-touching evening.

Celebrities Celebrate Beastie Besties at Hero Dog Awards

Dogs have always been man’s best friend, but it’s only been in the last few decades that we have started behaving as if it works both ways.  That’s an encapsulation of an idea that Betty White expressed last night, when she was honored at the Second Annual American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards — and Betty is one who would know.

The 90-year-old national treasure has been an animal lover throughout her lifetime, of course, going back to the days that, according to her, animal advocates were viewed as “a bunch of zealots” and our beastie besties were strictly considered beneath us.  Now, though, every year we’re discovering more capabilities of these wonderful creatures, Betty enthused.

Kristin Chenoweth presents a new line of greeting cards for dogs — not too seriously — at the Hero Dog Awards

At the Hero Dog Awards, many of these remarkable capabilities were celebrated, as eight Hero Dog honorees and their stories were introduced with the help of emcee Kristin Chenoweth (and her own dog, Madeline Kahn Chenoweth), Joey Lawrence, Jewel, Pauley Perette, Kellie Martin, Denise Richards, Naomi Judd, Mark Steines, Jake T. Austin and other celebs.

For instance, there’s Jynx, the Law Enforcement/Arson Dog honoree.  He was on duty with his handler, Deputy Sheriff Kyle Pagerly of the Berks County Sheriff’s Department, and other officers in rough terrain — and the German Shepherd alone detected a bad guy lying in wait, ready to ambush the law men with a sub machine gun and a cache of other weapons.  Jynx alerted the deputies to the gunman’s presence, attacked the gunman — who nevertheless managed to fire several shots at Pagerly — and then attempted to pull his wounded master to safety.    Pagerly died at the hospital, but the other officers on the scene that day feel they owe the hero dog their lives.   Jynx now lives with Pagerly’s widow and baby daughter.   It was Mrs. Pagerly, only a few weeks pregnant when she lost her 28-year-old husband,  who tearfully accepted Jynx’ award — and a heartfelt standing ovation from the crowd.

There are stories of therapy dogs who’ve saved lives and brought troubled humans out of their shells, stories of courageous canines on the battlefield, dogs who’ve given people with disabilities ways to live normal lives.   Yes, have the hankies handy if you watch the Hero Dog Awards on The Hallmark Channel November 8.  Each honoree is loveable and deserving, unlike other awards shows we could name.

The Beverly Hilton Hotel’s Grand Ballroom, where such galas as the Golden Globes take place, was again the setting for the Hero Dog Awards, with quite a few canines, large and small, there to enjoy the event first-paw.  (Whatever must those doggies have thought of being applauded by a ballroom full of people?)  The crowd feasted upon sauteed tenderloin of beef and seared citrus olive marinated filet of sea bass — and a dessert of espresso almond tiramisu in a chocolate cup, complete with white chocolate hero dog medallions.   For those who watched the first Hero Dogs Awards last year, with Carson Kressley as host — expect a more even program this year.

 

 

Guide Dog Who Led Owner Down 78 Flights of Stairs on 9/11 Honored as Canine-loving Celebrities Turn Out for HERO DOG AWARDS

Carson Kressley, Darla the Cesar Spokesdog, Julianne Hough Hallmark Channel photo

Betty White, Julianne Hough, Michael Vartan, Pauley Perrette, Joey Lawrence, Victoria Stilwell, Faith Ford and a pack of other dog-loving celebrities turned out to honor extraordinary canines at the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards over the weekend.  There were lots of laughs with host Carson Kressley.  Presenters including Peter Fonda added memorable moments.  And performances by Five for Fighting’s John Ondrasik were beautiful and moving.   But clearly, the celebrities of the night were Sadie, Zurich, Stacey Mae, Bino, Sage, Harley, Ricochet and the late, great guide dog Roselle, who safely led her blind partner, Michael Hingson, down 78 flights of stairs in Tower One of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Each Hero Dog’s story — with their amazing abilities and depth of devotion — is enough to bring tears to the eyes of animal lovers.  The show, airing Nov. 11 on Hallmark Channel, is not to be missed.

“I love dogs and any event that we can honor these great creatures, as much as they do for us, I want to be there for them,” Joey Lawrence told us before the start of the show that took place in the Grand Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel.  “I think it’s cool.”  (By the way, Joey has a Black Labrador, an Australian Heeler and a German Shepherd at home.)  

The “Melissa & Joey” star presented honors to Emerging Hero Dog Ricochet — a Golden Retriever who surfs with special needs children and disabled adults.  Video of Ricochet’s story of finding her own calling after being released from a service dog training program went viral with 3.6 million views.

Betty White, looking smashing in red, talked with a twinkle about her beloved Pontiac — her Golden Retreiver — before giving a presentation that ended with her literally dancing into the wings with Carson Cressley.  Carson’s “Dancing With the Stars” pro partner, Anna Trebunskaya, was on hand in the audience to cheer him on.  

Cesar canine cuisine sponsored the event, and the company’s Westie  spokesdog was there to present one of the awards with Pauley Perrette.  The “NCIS” actress cuddled the pooch and pronounced him (actually, it’s a her) her favorite copresenter ever before noting that you’ve got to love an awards show where it’s okay to have animal fur on your clothes.

Guests dined on seabass and tenderloin of beef accompanied by dauphinoise potatoes and herb grilled tomatoes, and a chocolate mousse dessert garnished with a white chocolate cartoon dalmation and a dark chocolate Hero Dog bone.

We caught up with Hingson backstage after Roselle was proclaimed the top dog among top dogs.   

Michael Hingson and Roselle

“She was a great dog.  I’m just so, so happy she was honored.  We’re really excited,” he said.  Hingson’s 9/11 experience with his faithful guide leading him down 1,463 stairs — occasionally being petted and greeted by firefighters on their way up — led him into a new career.  He’s working with Guide Dogs for the Blind, and has traveled all over the country and abroad giving keynote speeches that promote dogs, teamwork and trust.  He’s delighted that the Hero Dog Awards will raise even more awareness of the incredible assets of these canine companions.  “I’m hoping to have a chance to do more work with the American Humane Association,” he says.

“I loved her and I miss her so much,” he adds of the yellow Lab, who died just this past summer.  “I tell people that whenever someone wants in heaven, they ring the bell at the door and she barks, telling St. Peter, ‘Better get that.'”

Here’s hoping that this Inaugural Hero Dog Awards event will be the first of many, many more.

Joey Lawrence Grateful Daughter Okay, Series on Way

Melissa Joan Hart, Joey Lawrence "My Fake Fiance" ABC Family photo

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?