Tag Archives: Nancy Travis

Hector Elizondo Hopes New Tim Allen Series, ‘Last Man Standing,’ Gets Time to Jell

Will Tim Allen’s long-awaited return to series TV, “Last Man Standing,” still be standing by the end of the season? The show launches tomorrow night (10/11) amid a hail of critical arrows. But it’s getting better and better — to hear Hector Elizondo tell it.

“Like all these shows, it’s a creature that’s creating its own path while walking. We’re figuring things out,” says the debonair actor, who plays Tim’s boss and pal on the new show, in which Nancy Travis plays Tim’s wife and the mother of his three daughters. “We have all the right pieces. It always takes a season with these. If the network gives us a chance, this will be a very successful show.”

Elizondo tells us that Allen’s involvement was the primary inducement for his joining “Last Man Standing.” “I always admired his acting. Not a lot of people think about that. The movies he’s done — I see the chops there, not too hidden under the surface, either. They’re taking advantage of that more and more,” he says of the show’s writers. It’s leading to “more and more real comedy.”

The one-time “Chicago Hope” lead admits he “didn’t want to get back up on the horse” when it came to launching a new TV series. The premature death of his last such effort, the beautifully-crafted “Cane” drama with Jimmy Smits, was a heartbreaker for all involved. Ironically, it shot at the same studio as “Last Man Standing.”

Elizondo and Garry Marshall

“That one hurt, and left me in a deep, deep funk,” he says. “I said, ‘That’s it. I can’t take another disappointment like that.’ It was a damn good show, a quality show. The production values where high, it had content — that world of Florida and the Caribbean is so economically viable, so important…We were all emotionally involved in it. There was a great feeling of Caribbean warmth on the set. There was good Cuban coffee, dancing between takes. Then the writers’ strike hit for three and a half months, and we couldn’t hold on.”

Elizondo played shrink to Adrian Monk on “Monk” for a season after that, and made films.  He has buddy Garry Marshall’s “New Year’s Eve” coming up Dec. 9.

And now, here he is, back at Radford Studios, fully emotionally invested in a series again.  He has to be, he says. “It’s always good and always dangerous. You’ve got to dive in in the raw.  We’ve got a commitment of 12 to do.  I would think with this caliber of talent, we’d get a full season.  They’ve been wooing Tim for awhile.”   He adds, “We’ll know after three or four are on the air.”

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