Tag Archives: “The Secret Life of The American Teenager”

KEN BAUMANN: GOODBYE ‘SECRET LIFE,’ HELLO ADULTHOOD

baumannWhen Ken Baumann started acting on “The Secret Life of The American Teenager,” he was a mere lad of 18 — playing earnest, innocent Ben Boykewich, the high school boy who fell in love with winsome Amy (Shailene Woodley), despite the fact she had gotten pregnant in one thoughtless encounter with the school rebel (Daren Kagasoff) at band camp.

Now it’s five years later, and Ben and Amy and their crowd are leaving the air June 3 — after the show has racked up numerous breakups (including theirs) and hookups, the births of two babies, a miscarriage, a plane crash, several weddings and about 6,050 references to sex. (That figure is based on an estimated average 50 references per show, which we tracked when the “Secret Life” drinking game was at its apex and episodes were hitting 60 and 70.)

Baumann himself is now a full-grown man of 23.  He’s married to actress Aviva  Farber.  He’s a book publisher with his own Sator Press imprint.  And he’s an author.  His first novel, Solip, is just out this month.  At the moment his literary life is in primary position, while acting is taking a back seat.  We talked to the erudite hyphenate about the big “Secret Life” finish and other matters:

Q:  So, the end is near.  How does it feel?

A:  It’s actually been quite awhile for us — we wrapped in November.  It’s a little unnerving, but at the same time, I’m excited for people to experience this.

Q:  Will the finale give fans a sense of closure?

A:  Yes.  The cancellation was definitely a surprise, but the writing staff and Brenda (creator Brenda Hampton) especially are very, very fast and clever writers.  So I think that they pretty quickly wrote a very emotionally satisfying finale and I think it’s one people will think about after the show for quite some time.

Q: That sounds satisfying for the actors as well.

A: It was. But that last day was just rough for everybody.  There was so much crying it was stupid. God, it’s sad.  I think it’s a rare thing in Hollywood to work on a set where everybody gets along so well. There was no major bad apple, nobody really disagreed.  We all just worked so seamlessly together I think it was particularly hard to leave, because, you may never get that again — such a sweet, humane, considerate cast and crew.  As far as structuring the show to give people their evenings rather than shooting 15 hours on a Tuesday — we’re probably not going to have that again.

Q:  You all came of age while doing the series.

A:  Exactly, which is what made it all the harder — watching the birds get pushed out of the nest for the final time.  I do think that it was very hard to film, but I think it was fine that we were all crying on set.  I think it probably added a little extra magic to the last few scenes that we got the privilege to put in the can.

Q: Congratulations on your novel’s publication this month. It must be exciting.

A: It’s hard to describe.  I worked so deeply and intentionally on that book.  It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid to be a good enough and disciplined enough writer to get a book accepted and published somewhere.  Every time I look at it — and I’ve got a stack of copies on my shelf — it blows me away.

Q:  What is next?  You’re not giving up acting for the literary life, are you?

A:  No, I mean, not in the immediate future that’s for sure.  But I’ve been writing, writing, writing and I definitely feel that’s filling up more of my time, especially as I’ve become an unemployed actor.

Q:  Are you going to be going out doing signings and such, pumping it?

A:  I’ll be doing a little of the pumping stuff.  I’ll be in New York doing a reading on June 15th, at the KGB Bar with some old friends and comrades, some writers I’m reading alongside.  A couple of things in New York. I’ll do a reading in San Francisco.  All these are not scheduled yet, but that’s the plan.  You know, readings are funny.  I try to make them the best they can  be.  I try to do the best performance I can.  I try to find reading spaces that are cool and magical.  A lot of readings are boring, to be honest.  Ask anybody, even writers, and they’ll admit, yeah, most readings are boring.

It’s weird — I’m both trying to do readings and be careful about — I don’t want people snoozing in their chairs.  I want to be entertaining, play it cool, find the fun magical ones the ones that have sort of a vibe on their own, you know?  I had a reading in San Francisco, actually it was from Solip, the book that’s coming out now, and I think it’s on You Tube actually.  It’s in an abandoned apartment in San Francisco.  It’s all derelict and there’s construction equipment strewn about, busted two-by-fours, nails.  There’s a mound of dirt in the center of the living room with these big bay windows behind you, but there’s no electricity so the guy who organizes it has it candle lit.  So you walk in and immediately everybody is being quiet because it’s an illegal space, and, you know, it’s candle lit, it’s beautiful, it’s weird, it’s creepy.  I’ve got to say, that was incredible space.  I thought, ‘Wow, this is what readings should strive for.

Q:  Perhaps some of your series “family” will show up?

A:  Wouldn’t that be something?  I’m gonna basically blackmail them and if they don’t show, I’m going to give them tons of hell, and I’m going to force Daren Kagasoff at gunpoint to buy a book. Who knows when the last time he bought a book was, but ummmm yeah!  Ha.  They actually have been very supportive already — they’re always commenting and texting me. I’ve become a book pornographer lately, taking pictures of the book — ‘Look how pretty this thing is.’  They’ve been great.  I just like to talk a little sh@!.

Q:  “Secret Life'” it’s a big part of a lot of people’s lives — the ending is bound to get some pretty nice ratings.

A:  I know, sometimes I forget that and then I’m reminded all over again — oh wow, it wasn’t just me that had this wonderful experience.   It’s going to happen for millions of people, which is nice.  I’m really happy with how the show ends. I think it’s a very graceful way to go out.

New ‘Secret Life’ Season Biggest Yet for Good Kid Baumann

Ken Baumann ABC Family photo by Craig Sjodin

Three years into their series life, the “Secret Life of the American Teenager’s” young cast has bonded in a way they’ll never repeat.  That’s the considered opinion of Ken Baumann, who plays Ben, the nice boy among the high school crowd on the show.

“We’ve all grown up together and that’s not going to happen again. I would like to think that we’re all going to know each other and be friends for a long time,” says the 21-year-old actor, author and publisher.  They do socialize off the set, according to him. “It’s great hanging out with those guys and girls. They’re all excellent at having a good time.”

In fact, he notes that he and Greg Finley and Daren Kagasoff — a.k.a. the show’s jock type and sexy bad boy — “recently traveled to Cabo San Lucas and had some cast-friendly bonding time. The girls fawn over Daren, and I get to point and laugh. He’s the magnet. We carry him around and the girls come.”

The season that launches March 28th is Baumann’s heaviest, and “my most exciting and challenging season to play,” he says.  That’s saying an awful lot.   Since “Secret Life” fans first got to know Baumann’s character, Ben Boykewich, Ben has: 1) fallen in love with a pregnant girl; 2) married her; 3) found out the marriage was invalid on account of they used fake IDs; 4) been at her side when the baby arrived; 5) made friends with the father of her baby; 6) courted a friend of hers; 7) found out she’d kissed the father of her child and then had revenge sex with the father’s girlfriend; 8 discovered the revenge sex had resulted in a pregnancy; and 9) decided to take his relationship with his pregnant revenge sex partner to the next level.

And you thought chemistry was tough.

“No, I would never have thought this next season was going to pop up this way when I signed on to the show,” admits Baumann. “The social web can be manipulated in so many different ways….There are all kinds of unexpected twists and turns.”

Some viewers want Ben to be with his first love, Amy (Shailene Woodley). Some viewers think he ought to go ahead and marry bad-but-brainy baby mana Adrian (Francia Raisa). By Baumann’s unofficial count — that is, people who come up to him and give their opinions — “it’s shifted more recently to the point it’s about fifty/fifty.”

In the new season, “Ben’s relationship with Adrian grows and changes. His relationship with his dad gets even more stressed and interesting, with more conflict.  I would say that this season was, hands down, my favorite to shoot. It builds and builds and builds.”

When he’s not on camera or out enjoying himself with his buds, Baumann can often be found writing. He’s an aspiring novelist with one book already out to publishers, another in the works. “I’ll keep throwing things against the wall and see what sticks,” he says.

The self-admitted art and book nerd also has his own publishing entity, Sator Press.  Flying in the face of all current trends, he publishes books on paper, “but limited to small runs, a thousand copies or so. It’s a tough business, certainly, books. But it’s worth it. When I get an order on my e-mail account, well, I shouldn’t be that thrilled going to the post office — no one should be — but I am.”

He’s also done an internet literary journal of fiction and poetry, and “I may start the online endeavor again,” says Baumann, who is erudite enough to make phrases like “online endeavor” sound perfectly natural.

He looks forward to more writing, more acting, more “Secret Life,” with all its challenges and strangeness. For instance, the time, recently, when “I was at an old local Tex-Mex restaurant in Abiline with my family, and the waitress squats down next to the table and says, ‘My manager is hiding just around the corner there. She’s a big fan.’ She had the waitress come and do the dirty work for her,” he recalls good-naturedly. Being an amiable sort, Baumann, who grew up on his parents’ miniature horse ranch and animal rescue in Texas, went and coaxed the manager into saying hello. “We ended up talking a long time. It was pretty cool.”

As for his feelings about the infamous drinking game wherein “Secret Life” viewers take a draught of beer or booze at every mention of “Sex” on the show (one count for a single episode reached a whopping 70 instances of the S word), Baumann says, “Oh man. I pity the poor fools who play that game. They’re going to get alcohol poisoning in 15 minutes. Yeah, I think the sex drinking game is the quintessential ‘Secret Life’ spinoff. I think it’s funny.”

With all that sex, naturally, babies abound on “Secret Life.”

“At one point it was, like, four babies. It’s baby city on our set.” And how is that? “They’re great, so far, very professional babies.” Baumann laughs. ” I’m kind of a sucker for babies and young kids, so maybe I’m not the most objective one to ask. I just love kids.”

It’s a good thing.

Shailene Woodley Spills on ‘Secret Life’ and George Clooney

Daren Kagasoff, Shailene Woodley

First it was 15-year-old Amy Jeurgens (Shailene Woodley) getting pregnant by cool but troubled guy Ricky (Daren Kagasoff) in a rash moment at band camp two seasons ago.  Now it appears that when ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of The American Teenager” returns for its third season Monday (6/7), it’ll be bad girl Adrian (Francia Raisa) facing a very unplanned baby-on-the-way.

Will this season be a case of déjà vu all over again?  We asked show star Shailene.  “There are a lot of differences, but there’s always going to be the similarity between the shock of being a teenager who is pregnant and having to choose what to do, to give up the baby or keep it,” she notes.  “Amy was obviously more naïve than Adrian.  Adrian is accepting it quicker, but it’s still a struggle.  Adrian and Amy will kind of create a bond…. Amy is always going to be there for Adrian.”

Shailene points out, however, that there remains a huge issue standing in the way of their becoming BFFs.  The sticky point, as “Secret Life” viewers know all too well, is that sadly, the father of Adrian’s baby is none other than Amy’s true love, Ben (Kenny Baumann), while Adrian is in love with Ricky, a.k.a. Amy’s baby daddy.

It shouldn’t be a big surprise that there is another pregnancy on “Secret Life” considering the show’s obsession with sex – the act itself, and the constant talk of sex, including one installment where the S word was reported as being dropped a whopping 70 times.  A drinking game in which viewers tipple at every mention of sex grew in popularity across the land last season.

“As long as they’re doing it in a way that’s safe, I think it’s funny,” says Shailene.

America’s most famous unwed teenage mother, Bristol Palin, guests on the show this season.  “We worked together a few months ago.  It was a one-time thing.  She was nice. She seemed like a normal teenager,” Shailene reports.

As for how she likes working with all those babies – playing not only her son, but her brother — on the set, she says, “They’re fun.  They get distracted easy, pointing at microphones or lights on the ceiling.  You have to be patient.”

Life has been a whirlwind for Shailene in recent weeks.  She’s been in Hawaii making the feature “The Descendants” in the role of George Clooney’s daughter, between “Secret Life” camera calls.  She returned to the mainland the night before we caught up with the 18-year-old beauty, and she had already put in a full day on her series set.

“I’m going on adrenaline right now,” she says.

How was working with George Clooney?

“All I can say about George is he’s one of the most amazing guys I’ve ever met — so intelligent, so hysterically funny and so down to earth,” she replies.

Clooney has such a bachelor image, will people buy him as a dad?

“He did an amazing job.”

Molly Ringwald Re: ‘Secret Life’ Sex Count, Drinking Game, etc.

Molly Ringwald ABC Family Photo

Molly Ringwald ABC Family Photo

“Secret Life of the American Teenager” has so much talk about sex amongst its teen — and adult — characters, internet pages are being devoted to keeping count of mentions of the act per show, including one installment where the S word was reported as being dropped a whopping 70 times. Some viewers have, not surprisingly, been using the show’s sex-laden dialogue as the basis of a drinking game.

“Obviously, I don’t counsel anybody to abuse alcohol at all,” says the show’s Molly Ringwald. “But, I think it’s kind of funny.”

Last week’s show had girls campaigning for masturbation as the safest sex of all, calling the act “Just Say Me.”

“The phrase ‘Just Say Me’ is said 50 times” according to one count-keeper on Tripod.com.

How does Molly feel when she reads some of those scripts?

“Maybe I’m blase, but nothing really shocks me,” she says.

Also: “I’m pretty liberal and I would rather have my daughter be educated about sex and talk about it as soon as possible. Obviously, she’s now too young, but when the time comes, I’d rather have an open dialogue about it,” says the mother of a six-year-old and a pair of six-month-old twins in real life — who plays the mom of title teen Shailene Woodley on the hit ABC Family series. Molly’s character has plenty of action herself, with a baby whose paternity is uncertain.

“Kids are just very, very sexually active today, and I think that for their safety and well-being, to have them be as educated as possible and not go underground with it is a good thing,” she continues. “What I don’t like is violence, particularly exploitative violence.”

The show certainly has an avid following. The phrase “can’t turn away” appears frequently on internet comment boards.

For the red-haired beauty hailed by VH1 as the No. 1 Greatest Teen Star (“Pretty in Pink,” “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club”), the series is “sort of the perfect job. It’s great to have when you have newborns at home. I only have to work one or two days a week, so it works out great. It’s sort of a mini-vacation when I get to go to work.”

THE ZAC TRACK: Nickelodeon’s newest star, James Maslow from “Big Time Rush” is already being likened to Disney darling Zac Efron — and Maslow tells us it certainly could be worse.

“I think that’s a pretty cool comparison. He’s worked very, very hard to be where he is,” notes Maslow. “I’ve yet to meet him. I think at this point, I deserve to meet him. I’ve been compared to him a lot,” he adds with a laugh.

“I’ve heard great things about him both personally and professionally, so I think it’s cool if people see me getting to his level. If, in a year or two, if I’m still getting that, I might get annoyed. I hope, eventually, I’ll establish my own name.”

So far, fans are tuning in steadily to the show about four best friends who unexpectedly fall into pop stardom. The role is a dream come true for the young star who has been singing since he was six.

“We’ve all become really, really close very quickly. I think it’s a unique relationship that we bring to music because we all have very different styles and voices. We can listen to it and pick out each voice very distinctly, and they seem to really compliment each other in a very cool way.”

The guys, who record their own music for the show, are even contemplating going on tour during hiatus. “Right now, nothing’s official as to when we’re going to go and where we’re going to go. It wouldn’t be until the summer because we’re filming. Until then, we’re going to keep releasing singles. At the end of the season, we’ll have our album, so if we can tour as well, it will just be icing on the cake, because I’ve always wanted to do that.”

THE BLUES: Joel David Moore of “Avatar” tells us he’s not much like his anthropologist character, Norm Spellman, in the record-breaking James Cameron blockbuster.

“I do keep up with the geeky stuff, though. I am a gamer, like video games. I’m into politics and stuff. I’m also a big Portland Trailblazers fan — one of the best things I do in my down times is watch the games and defrag a little bit. Even my wife likes me to watch — ‘Good, he can stop talking for awhile.'”

One gets the sense that they’re a couple who enjoy teasing each other. “She’s so supportive. She likes my avatar. She said, ‘God, Babe, your avatar has a big nose, just like you have.’ ‘Thanks, Babe. That’s the thing you noticed.'”

COMMON THREAD: “Project Runway” judge and Marie Claire Fashion Director Nina Garcia has drained the color from the faces of more than a couple of contestants with her sometimes brutally frank comments about their work. However, she maintains friendly acquaintanceships with some of the show’s successful design competitors.

“We shoot some of their clothes,” she says, referring to her magazine. “Leann (Marshall) had a very strong collection for spring. Alexandra Vidal has a beautiful evening wear collection — it’s a dream. And then, there is my favorite of all who won the All-stars, Daniel Vosovic. Yes, I see them.”

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster

With Adopted Daughter, Joely Gets Used to Mothering Five

Joely Fisher was relieved when she learned that her Fox sitcom “Til Death” had been granted a fourth season — but she’s certainly had plenty of other things happening at home to keep her mind off business.  For one, she’s got five kids to look after, including a recently adopted daughter named Luna.

Joely Fisher and Brad Garrett in "Til Death" (photo from Fox)

Joely Fisher and Brad Garrett in "Til Death" (photo from Fox)

“I have two stepsons who are 23 and 21.  Skylar, who I gave birth to, just turned eight.  I have a 3½-year-old daughter, True, who I gave birth to as well, and I have an adopted daughter now who is almost 11 months old.  I run the gamut of issues from 23 to 11 months.  I go from changing a diaper to double dating.  It’s crazy,” she notes, but Luna has certainly been a much-welcomed addition to their full house.

“We talked about it before and we told the kids this may happen, and it happened very quickly because we went through a private adoption [agency], and they work in particular with emergency cases where there’s a baby and it doesn’t have somewhere to go,” she explains.  “We had done all the proper channels but this baby came along and she was meant to be ours.  She’s a joy.  We’re all in love with her.”

Now Fisher is back to work with TV hubby Brad Garrett and the rest of their “’Til Death” team, and has high hopes that they can turn things around for their funny sitcom.

“We didn’t know whether we’d return.  It’s a show that most people stomped into the ground and thought was buried so it was a lovely surprise to hear we were coming back,” she says.  “Considering what’s happening in television, it’s a good thing.  There are great scripts coming and a new show runner.  And luckily there isn’t a whole lot of pressure.  We can only do better.  We can’t really go down from where we are.”

Edie Falco in Nurse Jackie (photo from Showtime)

Edie Falco in Nurse Jackie (photo from Showtime)

GOING THE EXTRA MILES: With her “Nurse Jackie” due to resume production next month, Edie Falco is bracing herself for the biggest challenge she faces as the star of the Showtime series – “the hours.”  The hours of work were really crazy long during the first season.  I didn’t have the stamina to start with, and I kind of worked up to it,” she admits.  “In the beginning, my knees would literally buckle at the end of the day.”

Even so, despite playing the title character, she balks at mention of the fact she is now carrying a show.  “I never thought of it as ‘carrying.’  Carrying has a ring to it that sounds sort of oppressive,” she says.

“Even when I was on ‘The Sopranos,’ I was sad when they’d talk about something funny that happened when I wasn’t there.  Now I’m in every scene, every day.  I’m a bit of a control freak, so it works out perfectly,” she notes with a smile.  “It’s as I would have it.”

Falco is looking great — tan and relaxed — these days.  She took a leave from her seaside family vacation to attend this week’s television critics press tour, where we caught up with her at the CBS-Showtime-CW party.  “I am resting up as we speak,” she said.

As for what viewers can look forward in the life of her pill-popping emergency room nurse to this coming season?   “More of the same.”  She smiles. “But a little bit different.  I’ve been offered opportunities to get a little peek into what’s happening next year, but I’m not interested,” explains the actress.  “I’ll wait until the scripts are ready.”

HE ADSJonathan Goldsmith is having a blast with his role as Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World.  He tells us he loves the character, is being greeted with a smile wherever he goes, and considers the hit campaign “an absolute blessing” in his life.  But as far as those internet sites in which people concoct their own funny “most interesting man” tidbits, he admits they’re not really for him.  “I have no computer skills,” says the avid sailor, who lives on his boat.  “People will call and tell me about them, and I’ve looked a couple of times.  But when one of them supposedly had me as a porn star, I tuned out.”  The journeyman actor has a long list of film and TV credits (“Go Tell the Spartans,” “MacGyver,” etc.) – but only his beer is XX-rated.

THE SECRET’S OUT: Looks like the big winner of “The Secret Life of The American Teenager” is John  Schneider, who departed the ABC Family series earlier this year and his character was snuffed out in a plane crash.  The Brenda Hampton-created drama started off looking almost like a TV counterpart of the touching, first-class film, “Juno,” boldly going into the territory of a 15-year-old girl’s surprise pregnancy.  But this season there’ve been some hilarious bits that, unfortunately, weren’t intended to be funny – such as baby John’s tremendous growth spurt.  It appears as if he went from newborn to at least a year old between seasons, a time jump that would have been okay, except it also means that Molly Ringwald’s poor character has been pregnant around 13 months or so, and counting.  And somehow the gang has moved from merely being obsessed with sex to soapy silliness surrounding sex.  A randier bunch would be hard to imagine – and that’s not just the high schoolers on the show, it’s the “adults” as well.

Those public service spots regarding teen sex are looking mighty disingenuous these days.

The shark’s been jumped.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster