JASON BATEMAN, Star of "Chicago Sons"
American On LIne Interview, 1/6/97
 
     
  OnlineHost: Your emcees are MegK and Norma II unless the regular emcees arrive!

OnlineHost: Jason Bateman made his television debut at the early age of ten years old and has been working non-stop ever since then. He is currently starring in the Warner Brothers production of the NBC mid-season replacement show "Chicago Sons," the story of three brothers growing up in Cicero, Illinois on the brink of adulthood, paving their way through life -- each in his own unique way. Welcome!

JBatemn: Hello!

MegK: Welcome Jason! Ready for some questions?

JBatemn: Absolutely! Bring 'em!

Question: Who does your hair? It looks great!

JBatemn: Nobody does my hair. I get out of the shower and I just towel dry it...and hopefully it falls in the right spot. If it does not, I have a bad hair day, and it's there for me to suffer through as well as you. The trick is not to wash it. My sister taught me that.

Question: Do you spend a lot of time with your sister??

JBatemn: We spend as much time as could be expected with both of us working. But we talk a great deal on the phone. It's nice to have something that is so unusual in common. Being that she's on a show, I'm on a show, same network, same night. So we talk often about our pleasures and problems with our shows. We're fortunate that we have that to talk about as well as your typical brother/sister stuff.

Question: Jason, when did you know that you wanted to be an actor?

JBatemn: Well, my father used to take me to movies instead of taking me to the park to throw the ball. So, from a pretty early age, that was my desire. That was the way to impress dad. So I guess from about the age of 8 or 9, and then I started full-swing when I was ten with "Little House on the Prairie."

Question: I absolutely loved "It's Your Move," one of the funniest shows I've ever seen. Did you enjoy doing that sitcom?

JBatemn: Yes, I did. It's too bad that it's not on the air anymore, but apparently kids across the country were pulling the same pranks that my character was pulling, so NBC yanked it off the air. The producers/writers of that show went on to do "Married with Children," and I went on to do "The Hogan Family."

Question: Do you have a fan club address we can write to you at?

JBatemn: Just NBC, 3000 West Alameda, Burbank CA 91523 (c/o Chicago Sons)

Question: What kind of hobbies do you have?

JBatemn: Well, when I'm not working, a great day-filler is golf. I don't know how actors can survive without it because it fills the day so well. Or I spend time with my high school friends. It keeps my head on my shoulders and we usually find pretty fun stuff to do.

Question: Do you ever keep in touch with Rick Schroder from the "Silver Spoons" days?

JBatemn: I hadn't seen him since "Silver Spoons" until a few months ago, at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, where we were both in a car race together. We spent a few days catching up, and he's really a great guy. Unfortunately he lives in Colorado with his 3 kids and wife on a cow ranch, so I don't get a chance to see him that much. But we talk on the phone every so often.

Question: Do you have any favorite plays or musicals ?

JBatemn: Well, seeing Matthew Broderick in "Brighton Beach Memoirs" on Broadway was a big inspiration for me to keep acting at a time when I could've just chalked it up as a childhood hobby. But that inspired me to keep going, and then I saw John Malkevich in "Burn This," also on Broadway, and that even further motivated me to keep going.

Question: Do you prefer drama or comedy when taking on an acting role?

JBatemn: Well, I like both. Comedy is a lot more fun for me but dramatic acting is something that I really enjoy doing, and something that I look forward to being able to do during my 4 months hiatus breaks that I get in-between seasons. Hopefully this show will put me in a better position to do those dramatic roles that are exciting to do.

Question: Any plans to go behind the camera and direct?

JBatemn: Yes, in February I'm going to direct an episode of "Family Matters" and next season, God willing, I will direct a few episodes of "Chicago Sons." And then once this show is finished with, I hope to direct situation comedies full-time, so that I can stay in this medium and as a result it will give me an opportunity to coach a little-league team, drive a carpool...although I'm not married and don't have any kids yet that is something I look forward to having and doing, and directing situation comedies gives me the opportunity, the routine, and the freedom to do that.

Question: I know that Justine is an avid net surfer; have you caught the wave yet?

JBatemn: Only a little bit. I need to get a faster modem so that I can enjoy my computer more. I will probably be doing that in February once we start production of this show.

Question: Have you ever done an on-line interview before? Do you like it?

JBatemn: I did one about a year ago and I enjoyed it and I look forward to communicating more over the computer. If you would like to communicate with me on the computer and give me your feedback as to how you like the show e-mail me at JB1469@aol.com.

Question: Jason, do you get mad when your friends talk about "work" or do you view "work" as pleasure?

JBatemn: No, I don't get mad when my friends talk about work. I do view work as pleasure, and I'm interested in what they think about my work. Their opinions mean a great deal to me since I value them as people and value their taste. Since that is the audience that I am going for, since we are fairly similar people as a result of being friends. So what I would like, hopefully they would like, and vice versa.

Question: How much of the show is shot in Chicago?

JBatemn: None at all. We shoot it all here at Warner Bros. Studios in Los Angeles.

Question: Have you thought of doing a sitcom with your sister Justine?

JBatemn: We have talked about it.

JBatemn: In fact we were talking seriously about doing it this season but obviously she got her show and I got my show. Maybe that's something we'll do in the future, but right now we both have to be happy with just being on the same night and the same network, which is pretty cool.

Question: What kind of car do you drive?

JBatemn: A Range Rover.

Question: When is "Chicago Sons" on?

JBatemn: It will start on Wednesday at 8:30 on NBC and be on every Wednesday at 8:30 on NBC after that.

Question: What day of the week do you guys tape?

JBatemn: We shoot on Tuesdays, which means we start each episode on Wednesday. We will read the script on Wednesday morning around the table and then we rehearse Wednesday afternoon, rehearse Thursday and Friday and then on Monday the camera guys come in to make sure that they get all their marks and get ready to shoot it for Tuesday night in front of a large audience. Some shows shoot on Fridays, which give you a very nice build during the week from Monday to Friday, but half the shows shoot on Tuesdays, like ours. They do that so that we can share crews. In other words, our crew will do a different show on Thursday/Friday and then come in and do our show on Monday/Tuesday.

Question: How come you didn't play in the Dodger celebrity game last fall, you always go! What are some of your other favorite sports?

JBatemn: Well, I didn't play this last fall because I didn't want to be "Jason Bateman" from "Simon." But maybe I'll go back this year cause I really like this show a lot, and it's a real treat to play at Dodger's stadium. My other favorites are all sports. I'm a real sports junkie. I miss being able to play them because I'm working all the time.

Question: You've had two shows based in Chicago, are you from the city? If not, is it someplace you are fond of?

JBatemn: No, it's just near coincidence. I do enjoy the city, I've been there a few times and I hope to get the opportunity to go there more as a result of this show. Perhaps, if and when we're picked up for next season I'll be able to go there with the rest of the cast and shoot new opening titles or establishing shots, or whatever.

Question: Jason, have you ever been in any theater or musicals? Do you enjoy theater?

JBatemn: I've only been in a few plays, and enjoyed them very much. I would really like to go do some theater in New York during my down time. I've never done a musical, because I don't sing or dance.

Question: We miss your handsome self on TV. Do you think you will ever do a series again?

JBatemn: I have missed being on TV and I'm thinking about doing a new show called "Chicago Sons," and if I'm really lucky it'll be on the air Wednesday at 8:30 on NBC. Check it out, we might have a good shot at being on!

Question: I have seen you a lot lately on commercials for your show. Tell us more about it.

JBatemn: Yeah, I've seen those commercials as well and I'm almost getting sick and tired of seeing my mug. The show is a great show, for my money, and if you like the promos for it, I know you'll love the show, because it's very indicative of the tone of our show, and our comedy. But I want to know more about you, "modelwmnl", are you a model?

Question: Jason, do you still keep in touch with members from "Silver Spoons?"

JBatemn: Only Rick Schroeder, but not very often.

Question: What are you hoping to achieve during your career as an actor?

JBatemn: Hmmm...Not much, I'm pretty happy right now with what I've already achieved. I hope to parlay my relationships in television and more specifically sitcoms, into a directing career in situation comedies. I've been weaned on the routine of sitcoms, and it's a wonderful life for an actor. But you can also get the same routine as a director, but with twice the longevity.

Question: Who is your favorite actress?

JBatemn: RuPaul.

Question: What is your favorite acting job...or the one you learned the most from?

JBatemn: Well, my favorite acting job has been "The Hogan Family" but this one is rapidly becoming my new favorite job. The one I learned the most on was a movie of the week I did with Katherine Hepburn and Anthony Quinn a couple of years ago. Katherine Hepburn taught me a great deal.

Question: If you weren't an actor, what line of work do you think you'd be in?

JBatemn: Well, I thought seriously of being an architect, because I love houses, but I was never really good at math. So I figured maybe I could get a partner who could do all the math, and I could do all the designing, but then I got lucky with this acting stuff.

Question: Who inspired you to be an actor?

JBatemn: My father taught me a lot about what was good acting and what was bad acting and why. At a very early age, finding the difference between good and bad performances by myself was a challenge that I really enjoyed.

Question: There was a great movie that you did with Jonathan Silverman a few years back. What was the name of it?

JBatemn: It had one of the worst titles in the history of Cinema: "Breaking the Rules." I thought it was a pretty good performance by me, but not a very good movie. Fortunately or unfortunately, not a lot of people got a chance to see it, because the company that made it went bankrupt before they had the chance to distribute it. So it was just left to cable.

Question: Hi, I was wondering how you were discovered, like when and where?

JBatemn: Well, one day when I was about 10 years old, I was helping my dad wash his car in the driveway of our house, and an actor/neighbor of ours drove by on his way to an audition. He asked me if I wanted to go along, and I said yes, and fortunately for me they were reading for the role of the son that day as well. So he told me to sneak in there and make it look like I knew what I was doing, and that I was supposed to be there. And so I did, and I got the part, and thought, "Well, this is fun and maybe I'm good at this." And so my dad took some pictures of me and sent them into an agency. They liked the pictures, and signed me up. Then I just started going out on commercials and after I got a few of those I started reading for bigger things and then I got Little House on the Prairie.

Question: Jason what was it like working with Micheal Landon when you were a young actor just starting out? Do you think he had a positive influence on continuing a career in acting?

JBatemn: It was a very good experience, and he certainly inspired me to continue doing it. But what I learned most from him was how a set should be run, and how the crew should be treated, and that has helped me be a nice person, a professional on a set and that is something that I'll have for the rest of my life.

Question: Jason, did you attend a public school and were you involved with drama or the speech team?

JBatemn: I attended many schools partly because I was kicked out of a few of them because I was a little brat. But I never took part in drama or speech.

Question: What are you doing in personal life?

JBatemn: Well, I'm having a lot of fun playing hard, because I'm working hard. And really enjoying being single. But if the right girl came along, I wouldn't hesitate. Once again, JB1469@aol.com!

Question: Did you and Justine help each other cope with the demands of show business and fame while you were growing up?

JBatemn: Yes, as much as we could. But our parents did most of the work. Without them, I could've been robbing 7-11's. Who knows.

Question: I have a daughter that is 13. Her name is Sarah and she has done many local plays and productions. We would like some advice on how to place her talents with someone that would help her. Do you have any advice? Thanks.

JBatemn: Well, I'm not quite sure how you'd go about getting an agent. It's been a long time. But my advice to you is to make sure that your parenting abilities are at such a point where not only you can help your daughter cope with all of the crap, but that you can also parent yourself to deal with that as well.

Question: What is the most challenging thing about being in a "sitcom?"

JBatemn: The most challenging thing about being in a sitcom is interpreting the dialogue that you have to say in such a way that it is realistic yet entertaining. Whereas in drama, you're just asked to make it realistic.

Question: What is your favorite movie of all time?

JBatemn: "The King of Comedy" with Robert DeNiro, directed by Martin Scorcese.

Question: Why do we not see any reruns of your last show with Valarie Harper and Sandy Duncan? (Hogan's Family?)

JBatemn: Well, I know that they played for a little while, but I'm not that savvy about that part of the business yet, to give you a real good answer. I know that it has something to do with getting a certain price for the packages of episodes, and at some point it doesn't become financially sane for the studio that owns the show to sell the episodes.

Question: Do you enjoy the fame, or would you rather lead a quiet life?

JBatemn: I do enjoy the fame because it gives me the opportunity to do a lot of fun things. Fortunately I have a group of very good and normal friends that enable me to enjoy all the perks of a quiet life. In other words, all of my friends are not a bunch of cheesy Hollywood actors that make it very difficult to have a quiet life.

Question: How many years have you been racing?

JBatemn: Well, I don't know if you'd call it "years", but the first time I raced I believe was in '89. Then I raced for 2 or 3 years after that, then I stopped racing until last year, and I don't imagine myself doing any legal racing unless I'm asked. In other words, I'm not going to pursue sponsorship or building my own team. I'll leave that for those real macho Hollywood guys.

Question: Do you prefer doing films or TV?

JBatemn: Well, television gives me the opportunity to have somewhat of a life. Or at least sitcoms do. I'm able to come into work at 10 and be home by 5. Whereas with film, you are very often working 12 hour days for 6 weeks and out of town, living in a hotel.

Question: Any future in up coming movies?

JBatemn: No, but hopefully this show will give me some opportunities to do some fun little characters in some big movies. But we'll see.

Question: How old are you now, it seems like you never age.

JBatemn: I'm 27 now, but I will be 28 a week from tomorrow.

Question: Was it hard following Michael J Fox's character in "Teen Wolf 2?"

JBatemn: No, I never saw it as hard, because it was a different character. What was hard was doing such a crappy movie. I look forward to doing better movies in the future.

Question: Do you have any pets?

JBatemn: Yes, I have two dogs. One is a Carrion Terrier. His name is Spike. He looks like Toto. The other dog is a Border Collie named Bogie.

Question: What's the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you ?

JBatemn: It was when I was in 4th grade at the school dance and I'd stayed up all night learning this one dance step from my sister. After a couple hours of doing this step with my girlfriend, she dropped my hands, stepped back, and said "is that the only step you know?" and ran out of the auditorium. That's why I don't dance. She scarred me, that *****.

Question: Do you play any musical instruments?

JBatemn: No, but if I did it would be drums. I'd love to someday learn how to play them, but right now I'll have to be satisfied with my steering wheel.

Question: What is your favorite sport ?

JBatemn: Well, I don't know if I have a favorite, but it would be somewhere between skiing, golf, and football.

Question: What took you so long to come back to television?

JBatemn: Well, every year since the "Hogan Family" went down, I did a pilot. But none of them got picked up. But it's all just as well, because none of them were as good as this show. I couldn't be happier. This is a great, great thing and I'm so happy to be coming back to network television in this show. I can't wait to watch it.

Question: How long do you plan on acting and are you still producing??

JBatemn: Well, I've never produced. But I plan on acting as long as they'll have me. Yet I will not jeopardize the opportunity I have to solidify a career in directing television which I feel, the door there is fairly open for me at this point.

Question: Jason, what kind of music do you like?

JBatemn: I'm a big fan of a lot of the new rock, like Smashing Pumpkins, the Foo Fighters. My favorite band of all time is Led Zeppelin. I'll always be depressed that I never got to see them play live.

Question: Do you have a favorite author or playwright?

JBatemn: My favorite author would be Hunter S. Thompson, and my favorite playwright would be David Mamet.

Question: What is your ideal mate?

JBatemn: It would have to be a person that is very independent and clear about who she is and what she wants to do and be very funny, because she's going to have to compete with my friends for my time and that's a tall order, because I have really, really good friends.

Question: Jason, do you ever plan on working with your sister in a movie or possibly a TV series? I think you two would be great together!

JBatemn: Well, we've done it before and we look forward to doing it again, but no plans right now.

Question: What's your handicap? Will you play in the CGA?

JBatemn: I haven't checked for awhile cause I've been busy at work, but I believe it's somewhere around a 12.

Question: Years ago you starred in a wonderful TV movie about a kid who goes to music camp and when he returns home his family has disappeared. What's it's name? Is it on video?

JBatemn: The name of it is "Moving Target." And I don't believe it's on video. It was a NBC movie of the week and I believe they have a big cemetery for those, where it's probably buried. But thank you, I enjoyed it too.

Question: If there was one role you could play what would it be?

JBatemn: Probably a woman. I guess that would be the biggest challenge.

Question: Have you done anything that you regret in the business?

JBatemn: No, if I've made any mistakes I've learned from them. And I hope to never do anything that I regret. If I do, it'll be for everyone to see, unfortunately.

AOLiveMC4: Jason Bateman, thanks for joining us tonight and answering our questions.

JBatemn: Well, thank you for having me.

AOLiveMC4: It's been a pleasure.

JBatemn: I enjoyed it. I'm sorry we couldn't get to all the questions, but feel free to write me at NBC. I'm looking forward to seeing the show on Wednesday nights, I hope you are too. I know you'll like it, and if you don't, stay with us, perhaps you'll learn to like it. If you've got any tips for us, write me or e-mail me. Thank you, goodnight, and happy new year.

AOLiveMC4: And thanks to our audience for joining us tonight. Goodnight everyone.
 
     
 
 
 
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