Tough economic times will be hitting Craig T. Nelson hard this fall – on big and small screen. He plays the CEO in John Wells’ forthcoming “Company Men” corporate downsizing drama, with Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner and Chris Cooper also in the cast. And on “Parenthood,” he reveals, things will be going from bad to real bad for his family patriarch character, Zeek Braverman, who’s been having money trouble.
“It’s something that I talked about with Jason,” says Craig, referring to series creator Jason Katims. “It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s going to. With the finances, the counseling he and his wife (Bonnie Bedelia) are going through, and some of the other things that are going on in the family, they’re trying to weather the storm.”
Even as Zeek wades through his traumas, Craig is enjoying himself immensely on the acclaimed NBC show. He obviously gets along better with his series grandkids off camera than he does as Zeek, who tends to make the kind of remarks that start family feuds.
“You try to make it comfortable for the kids, you know, because shooting a TV series — it’s a very unnatural situation for the younger ones,” he says. “It’s fun to mix it up and hear what they’re thinking. I love it. I love listening to their music. I asked Miles Heizer to make me a CD of music he likes so I can listen to it,” he adds, referring to the 16-year-old actor who plays Lauren Graham’s son on the show.
And he likes talking current events and such with 22-year-old Mae Whitman, who plays difficult teen Amber: “I spend a lot of time getting her viewpoints.”
The affable star of vehicles ranging from his “Coach” series to “The Incredibles” is, of course, known for having some very strong opinions himself. He’s remembered for his appearance last year on Glenn Beck’s program, talking about refraining from paying taxes to protest out-of-control government spending, you may recall. So one might think talking politics on set could get dicey.
“I think as long as you don’t escalate it into something that becomes very personal and vitriolic, you’re fine,” says Craig. “There’s a lot of hate speech out there. There’s a lot of viewpoints that instill rancor, and that’s just not right. It’s about being able to garner a lot of different viewpoints, I think, and then find a center that’s going to work for everybody.”
He already knows that Season 2 will crank up production mid-July, and that it will bring ‘a few more hiccups’ in his character’s relationship with attorney wife Julia (Erika Christensen).
‘We’ll see how the relationship changes if two people are not on the same page about their roles in the family,’ he says. ‘Michael Chambon, in his book, ‘Manhood for Amateurs,’ talks about how he was at a grocery store, and someone told him what a great dad he was, just by watching him with his son. What an interesting exchange it was, and what would it take for a woman to get the same compliment? It doesn’t take much to be considered a great, or even a good father, the expectations unfortunately are so low,’ notes Jaeger, as he gives his son a bottle. ‘I really do want to be a great father to my boy and my girl. It’s certainly not easy, but it’s one of those challenges that I’m really excited about in this life.’
The handsome Jaeger hopes the network shows some repeats of ‘Parenthood’ episodes this summer, since ‘a lot of people have just discovered the show. Hopefully, they’ll build on that. It’s interesting, the kind of outreach the show has. I was walking home and I heard, ‘Are you on ‘Parenthood?’ and it was a teenage girl who’d run after me to have her picture taken with me. The show casts a wide net; it’s not just for thirtysomething women.’
THE INDUSTRY EYE: With the internet abuzz about Dwayne Johnson joining Vin Diesel and Paul Walker — caro pra chuchu! — for ‘Fast and Furious 5’ we get word that the film team is busy casting seven Brazilian characters. Actors have to be fluent in Portuguese.
Encouraging news for those who are feeling exhausted by TV scandal, sleaze and brainlessness. Casting notices have gone out for well-groomed, articulate, telegenic doctors, personal finance experts, relationship and lifestyle authorities — with undeniable credentials — to populate programs on OWN. That’s the Oprah Winfrey Network, you’ll recall, which debuts in Jan. 2011.
Christian Slater and Eva Longoria Parker head up the low budget feature ‘Without Men.’ Nice duty. It’s planned as a three week shoot in scenic Santa Barbara.
Craig T. Nelson reveals he’ll be making a return visit this month on controversial Fox News personality Glenn Beck’s show, and says that once again he’ll vow to protest our government’s behavior by vowing to stop paying his income tax.
The actor, perhaps best known for his long run on the series “Coach” and “The District,” wants us to know that the areas that bother him the most in Washington “involve lobbyists and special interest groups and the education of our children. It’s my grandchildren I’m worried about.”
Nelson, the father of three, the grandfather of five and the great grandfather of a four-month-old grandson, says that, “With so many things rearing their ugly heads in Washington, it’s more important than ever for people to speak out.”
He has a hunch that NBC — the network that will be bring us Craig’s upcoming “Parenthood” series, won’t be overjoyed by his political tirades.
“I think,” he quips, “It could be a cause celeb. Let’s face it, there could be some ramifications because NBC is a little more liberal than the other networks.”
“Parenthood” was planned for debut this month, but delayed because of the illness of leading lady Maura Tierney. At first the network refrained from issuing details about her medical problems, then Maura herself revealed she is fighting breast cancer. It is hoped she will be feeling well enough to join the cast when it’s now due to start shooting in November. That cast includes Peter Krause, Erika Christensen, Dax Shepard, Bonnie Bedelia and Craig T. Nelson.
IT’S ‘GREEK’ TO HIM: “Greek” star Jacob Zachar tells us now that the series is in its third season, he’s relieved to be finally getting the chance to have more flexibility with his character. “Because we feel very comfortable with our characters and the crew, they let us play around more and they let us have our own opinions now. That thin line of trying to create something without stepping on other people’s toes has widened a little bit,” says Zachar, who plays Rusty in the ABC Family show.
“For me personally, as an actor you want to keep creating, but often times you get shut down for certain reasons.” He imagines the feeling is similar to what an artist would feel if told “what colors to use. It would obviously be killing the original artistic sensibility. So I’m glad they are letting the actors make some choices. It gives us a lot more confidence.”
While the show takes place on a college campus, Zachar hopes they’ll have many more seasons to continue to grow in these roles. “What we’ve shot so far this season, I’m the most proud of. Having had a couple of months off definitely made coming back even more enjoyable,” he notes. “We had a realization that we’ve shot 50 hours already and we can make a slower progression to our destination, and as characters slowly become different. We don’t know where they’re taking the show yet, but I’d say the characters are slowly changing as they would in real life – nothing too drastic. Even if you’re new to this show, it’s one of those shows where you can pick up immediately.”
FASHION CONSCIOUS: Things are heating up for Tinsel Town designers and stylists as Emmy time nears, but one star who has it all figured out already is “Prayers for Bobby” Outstanding Lead Actress nominee Sigourney Weaver. “I tried on this really pretty dress for the Greg Mottola film, but we didn’t end up using it,” she says, speaking of Mottola’s upcoming sci fi comedy, “Paul,” about a pair of comic book lovers who encounter a for-real extraterrestrial. “So when the nomination happened, I got in touch with the designer and asked if I could use it. So that’s done.” That’s using your head.
JUST DO IT: Funny lady Melissa Peterman reveals that when good pal and former costar Reba McEntire and her husband Narvel Blackstock phoned her up last year to talk about Peterman serving as Reba’s in-concert lead-in, she was anything but well prepared. “They said, ‘We think it would be a good fit, and an interesting way to open a concert,’ and I said, ‘Yes.’ And then I got off the phone and said, ‘What did I just do?’ I’m more of an improv gal. This, for me, was the first real stand-up I’d done. Most people start off at Ha-Has in Van Nuys with five people watching. I walked out in front of 13,000 people my first show. It was baptism by fire.” Peterman wound up opening 25 shows for Reba and Kelly Clarkson, and another 20 or so for Reba alone. “It worked out,” she says. “Sometimes you just have to say yes and then it just forces you to work on something you wanted anyway.”
With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster