Tag Archives: Melissa & JOey

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.”

Joey Lawrence Grateful Daughter Okay, Series on Way

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?