Ladies, we have four good reasons why you should tune in to FOX’s Tuesday night comedy lineup come Sept. 29 — especially if you were ever a teenage girl with a crush.
Reasons one and two: The Grinder’s Rob Lowe (Sodapop Curtis! Billy Hicks! Sam Seaborn!) and Fred Savage (Kevin Arnold forevah!). Reasons three and four: Grandfathered’s John Stamos (Uncle Jesse!) and Josh Peck (the Josh half of Drake & Josh!). And here’s a fifth reason — both shows are multigenerational, laugh-out-loud treats that are, yes, fun for the whole family. Here, the gents talk about blending the old and the new into fresh and charming gigs.
Lowe says he packed The Grinder’s pretty-boy actor and legal poser Dean Sanderson Jr. with amusing Hollywood affectations he’s seen (or played) over his lengthy career. But it’s The Grinder’s family matters that he loves best.
“I’ve been a fan of Bill Devane [who plays starstruck Sanderson patriarch Dean Sr.] my whole life, and I remember like it was yesterday seeing him in Marathon Man, one of my favorite movies. When I played JFK, I went back and looked at The Missiles of October and it’s funny — he plays JFK, and [Lowe’s former costar on The West Wing] Martin Sheen plays Bobby. All roads lead to the same place. … I look at Bill and think it’s my actual dad, because my dad is a lawyer and exactly the same age and looks like he could have been a television star. Whenever I’m talking to Bill, I have to go [whispers], ‘He’s not really your dad.’”
Asked about the media’s longstanding habit of pitting Lowe’s looks and career against those of his real-life brother Chad, Lowe grins and says, “If we were to walk through a mall today, Chad Lowe would be mobbed by every 11-, 12- and 13-year-old girl, and I would be totally ignored, because he’s on Pretty Little Liars. He’d be like, “Yeah, who’s the bigger man now?!” Today, if there’s a 6-year-old walking down the street, the 6-year-old is going to know me as Skinny Arms Rob Lowe — and that’s fine by me.”
Savage, who stole the hearts of moms and daughters alike as The Wonder Years’ cherubic Kevin Arnold, now has trouble keeping anyone’s attention as milquetoast attorney Stewart Sanderson in The Grinder, who’s not buying into his brother’s celebrity shtick. “Stewart feels like the only sane person on the island,” Savage says. “I think people can see themselves in him — ‘I can’t believe not everyone can see the smoke and mirrors to this guy.’”
Savage, who is also a sought-after director/producer, says he relates to Stewart’s puzzlement. “I like to think of myself as not so Hollywood,” he laughs. “It helps being next to Rob. Next to Rob, I’m not Hollywood at all!”
Still, he loves The Grinder’s show-within-a-show element. “I think it’s a tip of the hat to the golden age of television when the lawyer shows were written so well and were so well-researched and so in-depth that Rob can actually survive in the real world based on that. It’s really an homage to TV.”
Asked what an exposé of The Wonder Years might look like, given Lifetime’s recent spate of “unauthorized” biopics of beloved ’80s series, Savage chuckles. “It would be a lot of actors learning their lines and going to bed on time. Making sure you’re still prepared for your AP exams. A lot of filling out college applications. I’m proud that it would be boring.”
Stew would be, too.
“This is the show I’ve been waiting for for 10 years,” says Stamos of playing 50-year-old “Lothario with a heart of gold” and restaurant owner Jimmy — who learns he’s a dad and a granddad in one fell swoop — in his new show, Grandfathered.
Stamos says he was lured by creator Daniel Chun’s description of Jimmy as “kind of a swinging dude, a George Clooney before he turned against everything he believed in and got married,” but the show’s title took some getting used to.
“I pitched every other title,” he jokes. ‘How about Handsome Guy in His 50s That Finds Out He Has a Kid?’ ‘Too long.’ ‘How about The Coming of Age? … I remember the first call I got was, ‘What do you think of Grandpa?’ and I said, ‘What do you think of @#$% you!’”
And while Stamos considers himself a veritable baby whisperer now, he admits rumors of his wanting the Olsen twins evicted from Full House were “a hundred percent accurate.” “The Olsen twins cried a lot,” he says. “It was very difficult to get the shot, so I said, ‘Get rid of these kids.’ They brought in a couple of unattractive redheaded kids, we tried that for a while and it didn’t work. I said, ‘All right. Get the Olsen twins back.’ And that’s the story.”
Peck — who for most of Drake & Josh’s run was the pudgy, wisecracking goody-goody to Drake Bell’s hunky bad boy — admits that it’s fabulous being able to believably play the offspring of Stamos.
“If I could go back in time and speak to chubby, 13‑year‑old Josh, I would say, ‘It’s all going to work out, bud. You’re going to be able to pass for Stamos’ son. Your 20s are looking great!” Peck cracks, adding that he and his TV dad share similar sensibilities on acting and comedy and spent time inheriting each other’s mannerisms.
Peck says that while he’s thrilled when new generations of Drake & Josh fans approach him, he’s long been to dabble in something new — and Gerald [Peck’s character in Grandfathered] is the best of both worlds — with some poignantly familiar emotional territory.
“I didn’t really know my dad growing up and the audition scene was me coming to John’s character and saying, ‘We’ve never met, but congrats! I’m your kid!’” Peck says. “It was in finding those connections that I was like, ‘I really have a true voice to speak from here. I understand this guy!’”
Grandfathered premieres Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 8/7CT followed by The Grinder at 8:30/7:30CT on FOX.