“I don’t go out of my way to watch them, but if they’re on I’ll watch them,” says the comedy icon and master of deadpan delivery. “The weird thing about them is, I don’t remember doing them. I see myself, and I’m in the set, obviously, and I’m watching like a regular viewer, thinking, ‘I wonder how this turns out?’
“I’m so glad Hallmark is doing it, because it’s such a classy channel, and they’re doing it right,” he adds.
Newhart tells us that he and his wife of 49 years, Ginnie, still stay in touch with former cast mate Bill Daily, who lives in New Mexico, and they socialize with Peter Bonerz, Marcia Wallace, and Jack Riley, all of whom live locally. He fondly recalls the times they spent with the late Suzanne Pleshette and Tom Poston — close friends who played his series wife and obnoxious college buddy, respectively. Their characters “couldn’t stand each other. And then of course, in real life, they wound up getting married.” He laughs. “The final years of their lives, they were so much in love, and we used to see them and, oh, they were so happy! It was just great that they found each other.”
Newhart keeps a fairly full schedule at 82. He does standup dates around the country — “about 20 a year. I’ll always do that, as long as the good Lord gives me the stamina to do it. I can’t imagine not doing that.” And other projects keep coming along for the legend who has been cited as an influence by funny people including Ray Romano, Ellen DeGeneres, Lewis Black, Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno.
Recently, there’s been talk of a sequel to last year’s hit black comedy “Horrible Bosses” in which Newhart briefly appears.
“Apparently they tested it, and people weren’t happy with the ending, so they came up with this different ending involving me. I had a scene with Jason Bateman. We go back to ‘George and Leo,'” Newhart recounts, referring to the short-lived CBS sitcom in which he and Bateman and Judd Hirsch starred 15 years ago. “The first day I saw Jason on the ‘Horrible Bosses’ set — it was a one-day shoot, for the ending — I said, ‘I thought we had pretty much killed off your career with George and Leo,’ you know? But apparently you survived it.’ He went on to ‘Arrested Development’ and all kinds of wonderful things.”
If a “Horrible” sequel did happen, Newhart muses, “I would imagine they would pick it up with Jason and myself and take it from there.”
Meanwhile, this weekend, “I’m going to look forward to watching the Hallmark Channel marathon and seeing some of the shows I don’t even remember.”