Jeremy Lelliott Interview

Jeremy Lelliott

Safe, in the Middle

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To paraphrase Mr. T, pity the fool who must appear in a show on the WB's Monday night slot at 9 PM US Eastern. The hour following 7th Heaven has been a rocky place, where programs such as Rescue 77 and Hyperion Bay could find no purchase. Imagine being on a show where three-quarters of your lead-in audience disappears in the first fifteen minutes of your program. Not even Hyperion Bay's last-minute addition of Carmen Electra could pull ratings out the bottomless pit of late evening for the poor WB.

Courtesy the WB and Spelling ProductionsCourtesy The WB and Spelling Productions

What to do? Call on Brenda Hampton, the family-friendly and bankable creator of the aforementioned 7th Heaven. If Ms. Hampton could cobble a viewer magnet for the early Monday-evening crowd, could she build a more adult-themed extension as a follow-up?

It looks like she's done just that, in the new WB series Safe Harbor. In this TV Single Dad show, Sheriff John Loring and his three sons stake out a dramatic comedy series on the shores of Magic Beach, Florida.

When the show was first announced, I thought this was quite a return to the Flipper-era of TV Single Dad cop shows. I wanted to talk to Gregory Harrison and see what his take was on returning to the world of Single Dadness (he had been on a show called "Family Guy" in 1990), and how the stress of landing such a historically-doomed timeslot affected his view of the prospects of the show.

Strangely, the cast of Safe Harbor was unavailable for the typical summer press junkets. After the pilot had been filmed, half the cast was sacked. The characters and family relationships were changed before the first episode aired. With the massive re-populating of the cast, the entire production was mired in re-shoots and re-writes on the beach at Jacksonville.

While I was reporting on the rumors and goings-on at the distant locale, I received a note from a cast member of the show who hadn't been sacked - - Jeremy Lelliott. Jeremy corrected some of the errors I was reporting on the page. I asked him if he'd be interested in doing an interview for the site. His response? "Talk to u soon!" - - EXCELLENT!

Jeremy and I were playing phone tag for most of a week - but we finally caught up one night, when I had just finished stuffing the last of a load of towels into the washing machine. Absolutely nothing in the world can get a phone ringing faster than starting a load of laundry or turning on the shower. The phone-recording gear was already set up, so

The Interview Begins


Again, thanks for calling. I appreciate it very much.

Jeremy - Hey, no problem.

I - I guess, you've written that you've seen the site --

Jeremy - Yeah, it's a great site.

Well, great! I appreciate that. Most of what I've been doing is the history of Single Dads, but -

Jeremy - Right -

I'm also trying to get the current-day things that are going on because, pretty soon, this'll be - - historical.

Jeremy - Right!

So, what I'd like to go through is - what you've been - your experiences with being on a Single Dad show, and the way you've been involved in the production of one of the few Single Dad shows on television this year.

Jeremy - Yeah, definitely, and one of the most-specifically, plotwise, outlined.

Oh very much - yeah, there's been a couple that have been stretches on my site this year, like with - - Mission Hill, and stuff, - -

Jeremy - Exactly, yeah. Unfortunately, there's not many shows out there like that, and not only is it a single dad show - - it's also a very "male" show - it's a very male perspective on life. And although a few people have criticized that - that was the target, that was the goal, and that's gotten a pretty good response, too.

Yeah, I saw today's Nielsens, and - - you beat Urkel (of UPN's Growups) again, I see.. -

Jeremy - Yep! [laughs] Yeah, we beat Urkel again. And we went back up to a 6 share - it's the first time we've gone up, and - - we're gonna run a rerun this week, actually because, uh, of Ally McBeal's season premiere and because we're being pre-empted with the World Series so we're going to rerun a series this week but after that, we've got an episode with Mickey Rooney in it, so we're hoping for a 6 or a 7.

Well, that's great. You do have a good retention on the 7th Heaven lead-in, so that's -

Jeremy - Well, the goal was to hold half of the 7th Heaven audience for the first season, and we've done more than that every time, except for once when we did *exactly* half.

That's great. It really looks like it's got legs.

Jeremy - Mm - hmm.

That's good. Most of what I'm going to ask you about is about history - - the *immediate* history of the show.

Jeremy - Right.

But, I know that, I've read a couple of other interviews that you have online, and you seem to be involved very much in the business of tracking how these things go, I guess -

Jeremy - Yeah, I - well, on one hand - I feel like, you know, the best thing I can do is just give it my all and try my hardest, and hope things work out. But, I have been following this - with the Nielsens and everything, very closely, just because - - I really want this to happen and to work. And I think this is a special show, and I think it's got incredible potential. And I think that we're starting to see that potential a little bit, and I think this deserves a long run.

Is it difficult - I mean, you're an actor in a show - you're one of the three surviving pilot members of the cast -

Jeremy - Yes -

and I know you have a very personal stake in the show, but, is it difficult - when you're doing, making, producing the show, and then, it goes into the can and then it goes off to the network, when you see the response and there's such a delay - and you say to yourself, "Can I improve myself? How can I make it better?" - - Do you feel a lack of control, or do you feel like- - - "What can you do to make the show better?"

Jeremy - Both. I'm constantly thinking about "what can I do?" - you know, what specifically is my part in the show that I can really contribute? Also, on the other hand, I feel incredibly out-of-control, because nothing - and I think that any actor will tell you this - nothing ever comes out how you planned, or how you expected - or how it *felt* even - nothing ever looks like it feels. And I personally *hate* watching myself on anything - - I just - like, crawl under the couch cushions and cry, because it's just like -- a painful experience. But, this is really one of the few shows out there that - - I can honestly say I like all the regulars. Everybody I'm working with - there's not one of them who needs to improve. I really think that all of my co-stars on the show are doing a great job. And they're all contributing their greatest effort because they all WANT this to happen. Everybody - there's such a positive spirit on the set, I can't even tell you. It really is the cliché "it's just like a family." We all want this to happen.

Do you think it helps, the - - I don't want to say "isolation," but the *remoteness* from being away from L.A. and being in your own - - almost like a colony, that you can do stuff -

Jeremy - Most DEFINITELY helps. First of all, it's so *refreshing* because - I mean, when you're in Jacksonville, Florida - there's only a certain amount of Hollywood-ness you can *retain* you know? [laughs] It makes for a much more "family-like" atmosphere. And also, I mean, it helps the show out, too, because - - I mean, in Jacksonville, we're the number one show. In Jacksonville, where we're shooting - - which you know is a million people here - - we beat all the bigwig networks just because they recognize all their landmarks, et cetera..

Right. I guess you must be like, Jacksonville - - "icons" by now. I would imagine that -

Jeremy - You know, the people here are sooo great. It's really cool - - I went to Wilmington, North Carolina, literally before Dawson's Creek had aired, while they were still shooting their pre-episodes that hadn't aired yet. And, you know, the people - it was really similar. And I thought that was sooo cool. And the people there were so great about it, and everyone was so excited about it. And then, you know, here, I find myself in a similar situation where, we're in a place, except - - Wilmington gets a lot of other types of filming. Jacksonville doesn't SEE much of that. And so everybody is so supportive and enthusiastic about it here. And it really gives us a positive feeling and a lot of drive.

Great. Do you have - - I was wondering - - when you say you "can't watch the show" - - do you go through any "rituals" just before the show comes on, or - -

Jeremy - Well, I actually have to watch the show on videotape, because I belong to a barbershop chorus called "The Metropolitans" and we rehearse on Monday nights!

Right!

Jeremy - Yeah, it's hard to get anyone from the show to come and watch! [laughs] But, we have our state championships this Saturday, actually.

That's great - is that in Tallahassee, or where.. ?

Jeremy - Um no - our state championships this year for Florida are being held here in Jacksonville, ...

Oh, great!

Jeremy - ..and then the internationals, to which we WILL be going to [laughs], are in Kansas City.

Neat! So do you do like, um, Meredith Willson stuff, or

Jeremy - Yeah we do the whole spectrum. This year, we're doing a ballad, and an up-beat... so yeah, it is definitely hard to watch myself on the show.

Yep. Um, how - I guess you go to the dailies and stuff like that - - is there a point where you just don't want to see it anymore? Does it affect your *current* acting when you're seeing stuff that's from further down the pipe?

Jeremy - Actually, no - - a lot of people say that, but for me, it helps, because I can - - it doesn't *throw* me at all. Instead, I see where I need to improve, and I see - - I see what works and what's not working, and, you know, things - I mean, you make certain characteristic choices -- and you see some of them just like TOTALLY don't work, you know what I mean? [laughs] And some of them just - - - blow over. And then other things that you, uh, don't really *intend* to happen, you see that HAPPEN, and you don't need to necessarily PUSH that, but you can incorporate that more into your character.

Okay, so you do get a feedback from it - - you can build from that feedback.

Jeremy - Yes, definitely.

Um, if we could go *all* the way back to the beginning...

Jeremy - Sure...

Do you remember the first moment you heard about "Safe Harbor?"

Jeremy - The first moment I heard about... oh, you mean.. ? Oh, yeah, definitely I remember that very, very, ... very clearly, actually. I - I actually remember reading the breakdown for it because it was the first pilot audition that I had. I'd never gone - - I had gone out for a couple of shows in the past, but I'd never gone out for a *pilot* season, so to speak, because I really didn't want to do a series. This - this pilot season, I decided I would, uh, go for it. I always wanted to do that. And, um, it was the very first pilot that came in for me, and I was reading the breakdown. I found it really cool! [laughs] And I remember, it happened - - it all happened very quickly - and that was accompanied by a lot of waiting. I got the script and a breakdown on a Monday, I went in on Tuesday and auditioned, I met Aaron Spelling on Wednesday, and on Thursday I went to Network. And afterwards, Aaron Spelling came out and he put his arm around me and he said, "So, you want to be on my *show?* " and - I -- don't think I *answered* right away because - - my jaw just dropped - I wasn't sure if he was completely serious. I thought, "oh my God, if I say 'yes' I might be misunderstanding the words coming out of his mouth!" And maybe he's like, telling me I didn't get the part, or something! [laughs]

Oh!

Jeremy - So, I just was in shock. So he says, "oh, I guess, well, you don't!" and I said "No no no !! I really do! I just wasn't sure if that's what you were saying! "

That's great! So I guess, after that, then, you had to look at the, um, the idea of going to Jacksonville?

Jeremy - Yeah, that, um, well - before I - I found out that we would have to relocate when I went to network, and I had to sign a contract that I was willing to do that, and I never even thought twice about that.

And it was okay with your family that, "hey, we're going!"...

Jeremy - You know, my family has been so incredibly supportive. I actually uh - I live with a single mom - funny enough! - my dad is not in the picture anymore, but my mom and my brother - they came out here with me, um, and they just like totally uprooted themselves, which was so incredibly supportive, I can't thank them enough.

It's great that you've got the support at home to do this.

Jeremy - Very. Yeah. And also, when I was back on the west coast, my grandma was living with us too. She's been an incredible source of support for me too.

That's - that's great - when you come home at night, you can - you can "decompress" and things...

Jeremy - YES!

And get out of it and be back in your family.

Jeremy - Right.

So, you moved to Florida, and I guess that's when they started shooting the pilot and things...

Jeremy - Yeah, well, we did a reshoot of the pilot, obviously..

Right.

Courtesy Spelling ProductionsNatural consequences of chaining oneself to a flag pole...

Jeremy - ..from the one we did in April. Although, a lot of - a lot of the stuff that I had done back in April, they kept, which. I wasn't very happy about it [laughs] because I wanted to reshoot all of it, but, you know, you gotta go along with whatever they throw at you!

Right. Did they do - - I mean you had a lot of isolated scenes in there, that they could drop in?

Jeremy - Yeah, anything they had with Gregory or Rue, they kept.

Okay - - and that was a LOT of it, because you were - - a lot of the opening exposition, I think, was with you, and the grandmother.

Jeremy - Right, and also the whole flagpole sequence with Gregory.

Right, that was all separate. How many director units do you have? I mean, it looks like you usually have an A, B, and C plot, and you break out for most of the shots. Are you doing a lot of this simultaneously?

Jeremy - Yeah, um, what we do is, we have two alternating First AD's, so that one can prep while the other one works. And then we actually only have one director per episode, and um, a lot of them, about half of them do, like, two episodes. One, and then they prep for the next one while they're shooting the next, and then they prep for the other. So they do every other one.

Right.

Jeremy - So, we've had um, about - I think we've had like five or six directors and we're on out eighth episode now.

Wow. Who's doing most of them? Joel Fegenbaum?

Jeremy - Joel Fegelbaum - AWESOME director - he did two of them. Harvey Laseman also did two of them. And then we had, um, our pilot was Bert Brinckerhoff. We had Chip Chalmers come and do our sweeps week - "The Invasion" episode six - look out for that one because it's gonna be BAAAD!

Okay!

Jeremy - That one's gonna rock!

Is there a guest star in it?

Jeremy - Um, in that one? Well, you know, we actually now have a - we have Michael Stoyanov from Blossom? He's a - he's doing a re-occurring role in our show now. He's phenomenal.

Another Single Dad show!

Jeremy - Yeah! Exactly! Yeah, I'm sure you're *very* familiar with him! Yeah, he's - - we're so happy to have him on the show - we all want them to make him a regular [laughs]!

Yeah, now, you had Susan Ruttan on the this last one...

Jeremy - Yeah! She was my latin teacher.

Yeah, now is she going to be a recurring role at all?

Jeremy - Um, so far, I haven't heard anything about that, but they have a *way* of doing that... [laughs]

Yep

Jeremy - I see, a lot of times, you know, roles that don't necessarily hint at have a re-occurrance, but do. I see them in treatments and it's like "whoa! oh cool! - Old So-and-so's coming back!"

Shooting in Florida has its ups and downs and I know that you've probably had to reassemble a couple of times for the hurricanes going through. Has that -

Jeremy - We did once, yes. We had to evacuate to Tallahassee, when Hurricane Floyd came in. And this is all SO new to me, I thought hurricanes happened like, every seven years. 'Cause all I ever heard about were the national ones that, you know, we heard about in California.

Right.

Jeremy - But, um, they just seem to keep lining up. The other day, we were out here at a city called Green Cove Springs, which is in Jacksonville, and uh, we came out here to do exterior shots, and that was a day *another* one of those hurricanes came through and it was like - blowing the place apart. So we were "okay, it's not gonna happen."

Continuity must be a disaster, I mean, just trying to pick up and - getting the weather to stay the same....

Jeremy - Oh yeah, we give our script supervisor, Eileen, quite a time with all this weather.

Now, how many standing sets do you have? I mean, I know you've got the uh, the lobby of the motel, and ..

Jeremy - Right...

And you've got the sheriff's office, the cafe, um....

Jeremy - Well, we have - we have a sound stage set up, and on that sound stage we have the lobby area. We have, um, the diner, although we sometimes shoot at the *real* diner... and we also have a replica of the exterior of the motel, which we don't use very often. We use it in, like, hurricane situations.. [laughs]

Right.

Hollywood of the EastLocation, Location, Location...

Jeremy - ...and then we go to Vilano Beach, to do almost all of the motel stuff. And we also shoot a lot in Green Cove Springs. Today, we were actually, um, I don't know how much coverage there's been around the country about the red tide we've been having here - I don't know if red tide is a big deal everywhere else but here, it's a *very* big deal. We've been doing takes with our masks on, and then quickly taking them off when they say "Action"...

Wow.

Jeremy - Yeah, it got real bad, but today, we were supposed to do a scene on the beach and they had to change it to a park, because we could *not* go on that beach with the red tide.

Yeah, it's something that you wouldn't normally think of as - this could be a location problem...

Jeremy - Oh yeah, BIG time, I mean, it was like, even with our masks on, we were coughing and our eyes were burning. It was really bad. And then I found out that, basically, I was inhaling, um, well... something not pleasant.

Oh yeah, I can imagine... now, I had talked with someone that had worked on Magnum, P.I., and they said that the thing about working on Magnum was that people were always pushing to get on the show because um, you got a trip to Hawaii. Have you had guest stars that have been um, really enjoying the fact that they were in Florida? Have you...

Jeremy - You know, I - honestly, I can't say that we have. Most of our guest stars haven't been trying to uh, win a free trip to Jacksonville.. [laughs] On the other hand, when they get out here, we show them a good time! And they're glad they came and they all want to come back.

That's really great. I have a question now: you're in a situation where you're a, uh, you're the classic "child star / actor" - you're in a Single Dad show.. and the, uh, the history of -especially the middle child in a Single Dad show - it's a checkered past.

Jeremy - Yeah...

I mean you could be Ron Howard, as the only child in Andy Griffith, or you could be Todd Bridges..

Jeremy - Right.

When you - when you plan out your future - you're sixteen years old now - when you see yourself in the future, do you have a general plan of what you want to do in the next ten years?

Jeremy - Um, you know, I don't have like a ten year plan specifically. However, I do have certain... goals. My goals are always changing and I'm - I'm just gonna go wherever life takes me. I - I don't even know where I'm going to be in January! [laughs] I don't know if I'm going to be in California in January or if I'm going to be back here in Jacksonville. You know, so much is - is like, unbeknowst to me, so I'm - I'm just going to wait and see. I've got general goals, you know, things that I'd like to do, but... we'll see what happens.

How, um - I mean, you started out in films - I mean, you were with Robin Williams and things like that - - when you're doing - when you're doing television vs. doing motion pictures, some actors find it an incredible pressure when you're getting suddenly things that you used to get nine weeks for, you've gotta do it in a week...

Jeremy - I am one of *those* [laughs].

You do enjoy the pressure better than the long way?

Jeremy - No, no I don't. This has been - - you know, I've been in a lot of episodic television, and I've even done some re-occurring roles on television, but this is my first time ever being a series regular, and - - I had no idea. And this isn't even a sitcom, you know [laughs] - where they move really fast. Like, this just blows my mind. I can't - I feel like I'm in a constant whirlwind. I don't even know - I mean, I'm like "what part - what line am I on? Are we on episode four, five or six now? I'm really not sure! "

Is the hardest part of it just - just like, getting up in the morning, going to work, getting in and doing that, and getting back to - your school stuff? Trying to memorize your lines through the next scene, or - --

Jeremy - That stuff doesn't bother me. Um, what I have a hard time with is, uh, is - keeping my character intact, you know? I mean, I'm really - concerned about long-term character development, not just episode-to-episode - what's my current thing, you know? And it gets really hard to uh, to keep track of your long-term goals with your character when you feel like you're flying from episode to episode. And oftentimes, I feel like, "wow I'd really like to do another one, " and there's no time to do another one. You usually get like, two or three takes - - the most you'd ever get is like five or six. Then, at that point - - bye bye!

Right, shut it down and go on to the next one. It's almost like daytime television, really - you're kinda just zooming through.

Jeremy - Yeah, it really amazes me, and, uh, sometimes it's a bummer, but I'm getting used to it. I feel like I've carved a little niche now and I feel a little more comfortable with it. One thing that's really, really great is, that makes things a lot easier is that all the regulars get along really well.

Yeah, it's what you said with "being a family"...

Jeremy - Exactly. And the chemistry we have helps make scenes go easier. You know, a lot of times, it's easier to not be in your head in a scene, if you're working with an actor who you really like. You just kind of go with the flow, and that definitely takes a bit of the edge off.

So, you get a little bit more relaxed, and you can roll with the character...

Jeremy - Exactly.

When you're - when you're working on your character, do you try to give a lot of feedback to the writer? I mean, does - Cartherine LePard wrote some of this stuff - do you talk with her at all?

Jeremy - Well, you see, that's what's really - really interesting is the - what it is is that we are working on opposite coasts from Brenda Hampton, who is our executive producer and writer -- one of our executive producers. And, um, I really don't get that much of a chance to talk to her. Not as nearly as much as I've been able to do with past writers, etc. about my character, and - at the same time - I don't know if there's somebody like - some secret spy on set who's like reporting to her? I know a lot of people talk to her daily, and I think that somebody is like, has been hired to be a spy to spy on all of us because - - she seems to be getting everything pretty head-on. I mean, oftentimes, I'm amazed, as if my thoughts are - written into a *script*. My thoughts of -what I'd like to do with Turner, and she just like, totally *sees* it. And I guess Brenda's a very observant person, because some of the things that I've, uh, - some of the choices that I've made, that aren't necessarily clear - - she's seen right through and incorporated them, which really makes me happy.

So, your part is getting more additive. The thing that I had noticed in the earlier episodes, and you're seeing the later stuff, is - it's probably growing out more. The other thing about having a middle child is that - the other characters seem to be - you know, they've giventhem each *something* - - like, the Hayden character has - he's always dating girls who look like his previous girlfriends. And, ...

Jeremy - ... the little kids are always spies...

Right. Yeah, and you're just kinda like... the middle Simpsons girl - Lisa. It's like "where's your catchphrase?"

The Middle Child. Courtesy The WBThe Middle Child. Courtesy The WB

Jeremy - Right, which, you know - I actually enjoy, to be perfectly honest. I mean, there's definitely - there's ties from episode to episode. You know: being a surfer, and being a schemer - I can always count that I've got some *scheme* going on in whatever episode we're shooting.

Right

Jeremy - And I know that I'll be conniving - that's one thing I know. But, one thing I enjoy about not having a quote "catchphrase" is that I don't, um, I don't feel like I ever have to be -- repeating something that's enjoyed, you know?

Yeah, you're like the center - you don't have to worry about the zone defenses - you can go right up the middle and do a bunch of other things you're not tied down to what you have to be in a specific way.

Jeremy - Right. Yeah, and I think that there's a - - I think that all the characters, though, have been given a lot of dynamics on the show by virtue of Brenda. I mean, we never *know* what's going to happen. It's like, up-and-down. Some episodes, you know, we get like the basic plot outline, and we're like "Whoa, that's a really *basic* plotline! " and they still turn out to be great. And then *some* episodes, we get these like - - OUT there scripts that are like, "Whoa - this is like - - this is like MEGA Northern Exposure stuff, " you know? And we get really excited about doing that of course because that's always a lot of fun.

Now, when you're working with Spelling Productions, and you're also involved with the WB network, but there's more of a separation between the production company and the network...

Jeremy - Right...

Courtesy of The WB

Jim - Do you - do you feel like the - - like the "stepchildren" of the WB, because, I mean, they didn't have you in any of the, um, you know, the set with the lights in it for - you know, you didn't do any bumpers and things for, you know, "This is the WB " and stuff?

Jeremy - Right - well, the reason: wait, there's actually a *story* behind that...[laughs] um, we were invited. We were supposed to go out there, back to L.A. to do the stuff, and we had a choice of either going on a Friday, and shooting it on a Saturday, or flying there on a Saturday and shooting it on a Sunday. Well, we had to work Friday and Monday and, um, - - it wasn't just one person. I personally would have loved to have gone and done that - I was psyched to do that. But, there were many, many, many people who didn't think that was a good idea. So, it was more as a - a consideration to the actors, not wanting to exhaust us, than anything else. It wasn't - there was no, uh, animosity or anything like that whatsoever. You know, people have said to me, "it seems that the WB doesn't treat your show as well as it does other shows," but that's really not the case. It's really just an inconvenience to the publicity department that we're in Jacksonville, Florida, you know?

Right. I know, I've been trying to get like, gallery pictures of y'all and - they had the recast and stuff and they had to go back and re-shoot...

Jeremy - Yeah, they did do a photo gallery of us, so...

Yeah, but, I know it's - - I think it's mostly just the distance involved from where they're trying to push the show, to where the show's being made.

Jeremy - Exactly. Also, I personally haven't been caught up as much as some other people have. I really think that a lot of the publicity at this stage really means nothing because - it hasn't seemed to really have helped or broken any of the other WB shows that are new. I think that, really, I consider this whole period after thirteen episodes to be one big *pilot* - - I mean there's far less publicity for the new shows than there is for the old shows, of course.

Right.

Jeremy - And anything done now doesn't *matter* very much. I haven't - - -


And then the phone cut out.

Did I step on the phone wire? Did the mini disc player get smoked? All the connections looked okay. I hung up the phone and waited.

Then, the phone rang - it was Jeremy. So...

The Interview Continues


Hello?

Jeremy - Hey! Cord came out - sorry!

Oh, it's okay. Let me just reset the recording level there. I was looking around and thinking, "did I unplug something?"

Jeremy - Nope, I unplugged something. [laughs]

No problem - actually, it's a really good connection now. So, we were talking about the fact that you don't feel that you're -- that the older shows are going to get the prime spots on the --

Jeremy - Exactly, and also that the - if we do get picked up for the back nine episodes, then we'll be - we'll be in L.A. in April, which is - they do those, uh, they do those promos twice a year: once in April and once in August - - and August was a bad time because we were just starting.

Yeah, and you had a whole bunch of "catch-up" to do...

Jeremy - We had a *lot* of catching up to do, and, also - - we started a lot later than most of the other shows. I mean, our start was in - I believe our first date was July 22nd, and, you know, 7th Heaven has been going since, like the week following the 4th of July.

Yeah. So, there's a possibility they could move you to, um, - - I keep looking at that 7th Heaven: Beginnings slot, and they could always move you to um, an earlier time, which would probably...

Jeremy - You know, there's - I actually - that surprised me. I didn't expect to hear much of that, but there's been an incredible amount of talk about moving to an eight o'clock slot. A lot of people are saying, "you know, we're more of an eight o'clock show - maybe they'll move us." And you know, I personally disagree with that. I think that - - I think that 7th Heaven viewers have been craving another show to watch afterwards, for a long time. Even though, you know, a lot of them go to bed because of their little kids [laughs].

Yeah.

Jeremy - But, the rest of the 7th Heaven audience has been hoping for something - - you know, a little less adult than Hyperion Bay -

Right...

Jeremy - Or Rescue 7-7.

Yeah, and it seems - you're right *in* there...

Jeremy - Well, I mean - - our show is still finding our audience a little bit, but we have done better than any of the other shows that have ever been in our time slot. Including a lot of the shows that are in other time slots now on the WB that used to be in our time slot.

Yeah, and it's amazing what you're up against. Monday Night Football and Ally McBeal and Everybody Loves Raymond ...

Jeremy - Yeah, and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and Everybody Loves Raymond...

Yeah, and it's quite - I mean, after the Superbowl, it'll probably calm things down a little.

Jeremy - Yeah, it'll get better.

And it - it really looks like the WB is hanging in there...

Jeremy - I think we'll be given a chance - a really good chance. We'll take the perfect opportunity of it, and I think we'll have a good run.

Does it get - I mean, we're up to the part in the schedule where Mission Hill just got put on hiatus, ...

Jeremy - Right...

And things start falling by the wayside, now, as things heat up...

Jeremy - Mm-hmm...

Do you start "feeling the flames" from the back as this starts happening? I mean, it's like, "what can we do? What can we do to get it better?" I mean, does it ....

Jeremy - Actually, it's been the opposite. We, um, we've actually calmed down a lot. Well, you know, for me, this has been my basic Safe Harbor chronology: I booked the job in February, I waited incredibly anxiously til April to do it. After April, what felt like a year, for a month, to see if we were going to get picked up or not. Even though there was a great deal of confidence that we would, it still felt like eternity. Then, I was watching my co-stars get picked off, one-by-one. And that felt like eternity - I can't even tell you how long that felt. And I was nervous - I can't even tell you how nervous I was. It was just like constant jittering. And then, um, then we got back here and like, every day, every discussion was like "back nine - -back nine - back nine." But now we've kind of - - and also we've - a great part of that is due to Gregory's great "fathering" to all of us. He's kind of just told us, "It's okay guys, chill out!" But um, we've seen that we're doing well, and you know, doing better than they'd even *hoped* for us to do, and so - - I've - I don't think that most people are too nervous about that.

As they replaced the Mitchell and Michael characters - the Wetherill brothers...

Jeremy - Right...

The Wetherill Boys - gone. Courtesy The WBThe Wetherill Boys - gone. Courtesy The WB

Are they still involved at all? Are they - has there ever been a consideration of like, a guest spot?

Jeremy - There actually was some preliminary talk about that. Basically, they, uh, the reason that they're not on the show is that - - the lack of experience. It was their first job ever, and you know, maybe, they're both cute kids, and I think that they have a promising future. But, uh, maybe it wasn't the best thing in the world for them to be, um, go immediately onto a show...

Yeah...

Jeremy - That had the potential to be a hit, anyways, and um... I'm actually - I'm holding their picture right now, right in front of me. We're still in contact. Their dad just wrote a book that's about to be published and he just sent it to me. So, uh, I don't think there's - - I mean at first, there's - - I mean, they were devastated, but I actually don't think there's that many bitter feelings about it. They've sent pictures et cetera to a lot of the people that were here in April and you know, everything's really cool with them. They're in acting classes now, and they're doing well.

It's a tough business, as you're constantly being evaluated, compared...

Jeremy - Yeah, you're right. It's - you're told never to be judgmental, and then you're thrown into a business where *everything* is about being judged! And also, it seems like - I never realized until this year, because I never followed too much of the fall season hype before - - but, uh - I never realized how much of an *effect* the American media has on the American audience. I mean, so much of the judging of all the new pilots, which is based on *one* episode, affected whether or not shows were successful.

Yep...

Jeremy - And there's the other cases, like Action, where, despite the incredible reviews, it still didn't make it.

Was it difficult - I mean, one of the - the big brouhaha of the summer was that the, uh, the whole season was too white, was too - -

Jeremy - whitewashed...

Yeah, -

Jeremy - which I agree with.

Yeah, and going in and expanding the characters - some shows, like Populardid, you know, drop-in characters and..

Jeremy - Well, on our show, you know, we did this whole PTA tour, which for a lot of us, other than Gregory and Rue - for the rest of us it was our first time. You know, we were very excited about this, and that's when we got a taste of what it was going to be like. Because we got up on that stage, and we were like *so* excited and they were like, showing our clip of what our show was going to be like and there were butterflies in our stomachs and - they start throwing - - - horrible questions to all of us. And, you know, one of the victims of it was Orlando Brown, who - oh, I can't even tell you what an incredible kid he is. And he's on stage, and here they are, harassing this eleven-year-old boy about being a black actor, you know, in this white-washed season, and does he feel that's the only reason he was cast? He'd been cast for a *month* - which was *way* before the big uproar.

Right -

Jeremy - I mean, he was cast at the end of May the beginning of June. It was way before any of that happened. He was cast because - - he's funny as hell.

Yeah, he comes across very well. And the interaction between the two kids is really great.

Jeremy - Oh you should see them, because they do that in real life. They're totally buddied-up on set and they're always with each other. And at the same time, once in a while they get into a little skirmish, just like they do on the show, and it's so funny.

And I guess, you guys are like being in a fishbowl with this whole thing - -

Jeremy - Yeah- -

And it's "look, it's what *they're* saying, it's not going on" and trying to clear that up, it must be just - - aggravating.

Jeremy - It is. Definitely.

But then, I guess you just go back to your job? ... and handle that. Is Scott Vickaryous - -

Scott Vickaryous - the original Hayden (courtesy the WB)Scott Vickaryous - the original Hayden (courtesy the WB)

Jeremy - Scott Vickaryous!

Now, he was the original Hayden...

Jeremy - Yes...

And then - - he *wasn't* the original Hayden...

Jeremy - No! [laughs] No, he's no longer The Hayden.

Yeah.

Jeremy - Scott Vickaryous - he's a great guy. I hung out with him - - all the time back in April. But, um, when it comes to being Hayden Loring, he's not Christopher Khayman Lee.

Right.

Courtesy of The WB

Jeremy - Um, I've seen him in a lot of his work that was really, really good - - and I've got a friend who just saw him in a screening of a film that he did recently. And he did - he was excellent - he blew them away. I think that Scott - he definitely has the potential to be a great actor. I think that, uh, it wasn't the right role. You know, I've seen the 20-minute presentation pilot we did. And I think, one of the biggest problems was that Scott was just too old to be playing sixteen. I mean, he just looked *way* too old. And I think that, uh, I think it was a stretch and I think that - - I don't think that he would have been very happy to be doing that part for very long, anyways. And Chris is, like - - he's *so* identical to his part, and he's done so much of what you would think his character was, like, established to be. So much of that is just his own creativity. I mean, he's really made Hayden what it is - he's kind of just like - head in the clouds, gloomy guy.

Yeah, he's got that, -

Jeremy - ... and that's just what he brought to it, on his own. And it's - it's much more interesting. Even Hayden now is - kind of an eccentric in his own way. So now we have basically a whole *cast* of eccentrics! [laughs]

Now, the Jamie character, Chyler Leigh...

Gregory Harrison, Chyler Leigh - Courtesy The WBGregory Harrison, Chyler Leigh - Courtesy The WB

Jeremy - Chyler!

Yeah, she came in on Episode Two

Jeremy - Right.

And she was the last of the main company. Did she just come in late to it because - they couldn't fit her into the pilot, or ..?

Jeremy - We, um, well - - - exactly. Um, the pilot - - it was already - I mean, we shot - I think we probably shot almost a two-hour pilot they had to cut in half. I mean, most of our scripts are seeming to come out about an hour and a half long. They have to cut it down to forty-three minutes, you know? So, uh, there was just no way to fit yet *another* plot line. Especially since, um, if you talk to - - even though the pilot was received fairly well by the public - - you talk to the cast members - we weren't incredibly thrilled with that episode, in particular. And, um, a lot of it was the fact that - - *everybody* had their own plotline, and it was a bit choppy. And now, what they've done - which is *really* working more and more - - they have the regulars interacting, which is really good, because, like I've said before, there's a lot of chemistry among us...

Right -

Jeremy - and the stories seem to turn out the best.

That pilot seemed like the Readers' Digestversion of - - "here's exposition for you and every character we can think of..."

Jeremy - Exactly.

So, I guess pilots sort of have to be that way and ... introduce the characters...

Jeremy - well, you know, the thing is - - it really wasn't *written* that way, and I'm not exactly sure *what* happened, because the actual - I mean, if you read the script for the original pilot, which was *awesome* - - if you read that script right now, I don't think that you would believe that it was the same show that's airing right now. The original plot was a much darker, edgier show. In fact, I was almost not allowed to audition! Because I was on Melrose Place, I was put on the Straight-to-Producers list and I was pulled off of it because, uh, somebody thought that I wasn't edgy enough for the role.

Wow.

Jeremy - It's funny because most of the roles I've played have been - - quite edgy. And, um, so - my manager said "no, absolutely not. It's not going to happen - he's going in." And when I went in, I did it with so much - teen angst, edginess - it was like, *way, way, way* too much of that. And they hired me because they thought I was perfect for what they wanted to do. And now it's like such a different character. One of the original things, I think it was even written somewhere, was that Turner wasn't going to ever smile. And now, like, every script, it says, "Turner flashes a smile!"

Yep

Jeremy - So, the show is much *brighter* than it was intended to be.

Now, I've been watching the show, but I haven't been taking massive amounts of notes on it, but I keep getting this impression with half of the characters - - never get a costume change? Do you always wind up in the same - - I don't know if that's - like a Jack Webb continuity thing...

Jeremy - Hmmm - I actually, uh, not exactly sure what you're talking about, because, every episode - - well, like for my character the outfits are all very similar. It's definitely a style that's been picked out. But, I rarely wear an outfit more than three or four times. I think it's pretty realistic.

Yeah, I was just thinking of the Gilligan thing, where, like Gregory Harrison gets -

Jeremy - Well, yeah..

he's the sheriff, so he *has* to be, for being the sheriff, so...

Jeremy - Yeah, it's pretty much the same wardrobe, so - - he's been in about five scenes where he's gotten the chance to get out of that damn thing. [laughs]

I was thinking it must really wear on him after a while - like "Do I have to put this thing on again?" But, okay, I had made a note of that to ask you about that - but, well, that clears *that* up!

Jeremy - Well, it's funny that you mention that- - doing the same thing each week. That's one thing I found that's really interesting doing a series this past - this past month, we're in our seventh and eighth episodes right now - and I think, "Wow! This is like the longest I've ever done a character!" [laughs] And, um, one thing that's nice about that is that it challenges us to make the character grow and do new things. Because otherwise, we'd be bored as hell, no matter *how* much fun our roles were!

Do you - I mean, I realize it's still early in the game, but do you worry - - "being Turner?" I mean, let's say this thing turns into a success...

Jeremy - Yeah...

You're on for eight years, and you're Turner -

Jeremy - Ooh, that's a bit long! [laughs]

Yeah, I mean, you're having the farewell episode show, and you're on the cover of TV Guide, and it's like "Farewell to Safe Harbor" - but, do you worry about being Turner?

Jeremy - Um- - - - - no. Because, um, I did, but I don't anymore. First of all, Turner is - I mean, I mainly get to do fun stuff, that's just a *fact.* Most of the stuff I do isn't cutting-edge drama. But, the nice thing about that is, playing the middle child, there's going to be a lot of Middle Child Syndrome. So there's - - I can always go *up* with that. You know? There's - - I can't go *down* with a drama, you know? I can only add *more* drama to the character.

Yeah, ...

Jeremy - There's always moments you can find where you can incorporate some of the choices in life that you've made. And, like I've said before, Brenda seems to have seen into them. Now, the only thing I'm upset about, I have to say, - - - as of now, I've - I don't know how many of the episodes - I can't remember if everybody has in the episodes yet - - where we are shooting, *everybody* has had a significant other except for *me* . Well, actually I've had two significant others, but both of them turned me down.

Ack!

Jeremy - I'm a *little* bit upset about that - - they're making Turner a bit of a loser, but I guess that I'm just going to have to *go* with it...

Yeah, offer it up. Being on the show, some people have in-jokes on the set. Is there anything that a viewer, looking at, like, the lobby set - - are there any things to look for? I mean, do you have any - your mom's picture on the refrigerator, or something like that?

Jeremy - God, there are so many - - I'm trying to think of a good one right now. I mean, that place is *filled* with stuff. Let's see. . . I'm trying to think of something. Always look for "Toe Brand" anything. Our propmaster - I'm not sure if he's our propmaster, he's one of our prop guys - - is named "Big Toe" - his nickname.

Okay -

Jeremy - A lot of the brands for cereals and even jam, if you could imagine.

Toe Jam...

Jeremy - Yeah, Toe, if you can imagine. And we also have what we call the Florida Chicken, which is basically, well - you know the Florida Chicken is often a flamingo, but in front of our motel, there's about five flamingos, and one pink chicken, on flamingo legs, so you've got to look for that.

Okay -

Jeremy - And, um, we do have a picture of a woman, and we struggle - - we're trying to figure out who it is, because - - I don't think it could be the mom, because our cast looks very different for being a family. This woman doesn't look like *any* of us. And, um, she's really, I must say, very, very unattractive. So we're trying to figure out who this is - - some kind of aunt or something.

Just buried in the set somewhere...

Jeremy - Yes.

Um, I've only got a few more questions - - could you go through a quick week of how you - do you start with a table read on Monday, or something?

Jeremy - No, that's one thing we *don't* do - which is a little bit odd. We don't do table reads. We are one of those weird shows that stretches out over three weeks, because we usually do a Friday, then a Monday through Friday, then a Monday, then we start a new episode!

Wow.

Jeremy - Yeah, and also, that makes us rotate a lot. We're never starting on the same day. But it always stretches out over three weeks - it just works out that way. And um, let's see - we basically - it's not as much of a *weekly* thing as it is a *daily* process. We get there, we see what our scenes are for the day, go through makeup and hair. We go there, and I'll tell you, for those lobby scenes, everybody's in them, which is like a ritualistic thing - - every episode, we get a lecture from Dad, with everybody in the lobby. And those scenes seem to take forever and a day! We rehearse those, like, five or six times before the camera's brought into it, just because, blocking and everything. And then, we do like three blocking rehearsals to try and get it all down. Then, we allow two takes where, you know there's going to be technical errors, just because it's so - - complicated. And then, we do the scene.


And then the minidisc recorder cut out.

What do I say? "Stop talking Jeremy - I'm out of disc space?" Nope - it completely slipped my mind. I wrestled a new minidisc out of a plastic wrapper and popped it into the machine. Meanwhile, Jeremy was discussing how Chris Lee manages to make him blow take-after-take on set. This was prime stuff and I was *missing* it! The "Record" light kicked back on, so...

The Interview Continues


Just two more questions. One thing: you're on a lot of places on the internet, and it seems to be like there's galleries of pictures of you when you were a kid and things - a couple of really weird sites.

Jeremy - Oh man - -

I've had interviews with some people, and like, Alyssa Milano -

Jeremy - Oh man you can REALLY find a lot of pictures of her.

...had a hard time fighting to get the stuff off..

Jeremy - Right.

Are you - in a pitched battle, constantly, with this stuff? I mean, how do you react to it? Do you ignore it? Do you -

Jeremy - Well, I - - are you referring to the pictures from Journey of the Heart now? Or just -

Um, I don't know.

Jeremy - ..just pictures in general?

There just seems to be a lot of pictures of you - like little boy pictures of you in bathing suits and stuff, and I don't know where they're from, but -

Jeremy - Yeah, well, you know - - those - I mean, they can be a little bit embarrassing, you know - my friends all have gotten a hold of them. The only real problem I've had is: I did a TV-movie called Journey of the Heart and in it I played a blind, autistic, musical savant, if you can imagine that.

Oh boy.

Jeremy - Quite a long title but that's what the character was. And at one point, the boy, Will Rothar, who played my younger brother, points a hose up in the air, and says it's raining. And there's this whole story about the "Aroogul Monster" who takes his skin off. Well, my character thinks it's raining, even though it's just a hose. He goes and he wants to be close to the rain, because he's blind. He wants to touch it, he wants to feel it, he wants to taste it. He takes off all of his clothes, and this is all based on a true story. It was really - you know, it was beautifully directed scene by Karen Arthur,

Right

Jeremy - ..who's done a lot of similar stuff in the past. And - - it was so completely - - artistic and so completely NOT sexual, - -

It was part of the story, basically -

Jeremy - Exactly. And I mean there wasn't even a hint of sexuality to it whatsoever. I mean, come on, I was playing ELEVEN.

Right.

Jeremy - And yet, that picture got onto a porn site. And we did fight that one. And we - we won. However, they moved it to an *international* porn site, and now there's nothing we can do.

Yeah, -

Jeremy - So now, my bum is on the Internet. [laughs]

So you just say "it's there" and you just - - get over it?

Jeremy - Yeah.

"Okay, it's gonna be out there."

Jeremy - Yep - you know, there's - - I'm trying to remember Gregory's words exactly - but he said something the other day - he was saying something like, "Acting is humiliation, " and then something like, "with ridicule added on." Something like that - but it's SO true! Just *constant* humiliation. Like with Chris having to wear that mud mask on national TV the other day, - -

Oh yeah -

Jeremy - and um, well - I don't want to give away too much, but I will be seen hiding under my desk with a blanket. Man oh man. [laughs]

Well, it's a job...

Jeremy - Yeah, that's one of those moments when you do - you know, you just kinda look up into the sky and say, "You know what? Thank you, it's a job!" [laughs]


That was pretty much it. Jeremy cut a nice ID for me, which you can hear by clicking here.

I got a call from the WB saying that Safe Harbor hasn't been renewed, and it hasn't been cancelled. Sounds like more stress for the folks in the late Monday slot. Stay tuned.