The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Film star and Lexington resident Steve Zahn will perform live on stage next month at the Lyric Theatre in a production by The Rep, the local theater company he runs with his wife, Robyn Peterman-Zahn, and local dance legend Diana Evans Pulliam.
It will be Zahn’s first performance on a Lexington stage.
Zahn will play the One-Man-Show-Christmas-Show-Man in the second annual production of Smackdown for the Christmas Crown, an original show by Peterman-Zahn that debuted last year at the Lyric. The role was played last year by Lexington actor Spencer Christensen, who Peterman-Zahn says has gone on to graduate school. Zahn, a member of Actors Equity, will perform under a guest-artist contract with the stage actors union.
Zahn has starred in the movies SubUrbia (1996), Daddy Day Care (2003), Sahara (2005), Rescue Dawn (2006) and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies, and he has been a voice in several animated movies and TV series, including Chicken Little (2005) and the Disney Channel’s Phineas and Ferb. He currently stars as Davis McAlary in the HBO series Treme. He’s squeezing preparation for Smackdown between shooting dates in New Orleans for Treme and the feature film Dallas Buyers Club with Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner.
He and Lexington native Peterman-Zahn met when they were both in the 1991 national tour of Bye Bye Birdie, which starred Tommy Tune and Ann Reinking. They married in Lexington in 1994 and moved here 10 years later. Peterman-Zahn became the stage director of Paragon Music Theatre in 2009. She, Pulliam and Zahn formed The Rep last year after the dissolution of Paragon, when founder Ryan Shirar departed for graduate school at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
If the actors on Two and a Half Men keep chomping like this, show creators Chuck Lorre and Lee Aronsohn might not have any hands left.
Just over a year after Charlie Sheen’s meltdown that led to his departure from the show and replacement with Ashton Kutcher, half-man Angus T. Jones, 19, is going in the other direction to bite the hand that has fed him for nearly a decade.
In a video recorded in his trailer at Warner Bros. Studios with Christopher Hudson of the Apocalyptic Christian website Forerunner Chronicles, Jones’ denounced the show as “filth” and told viewers not to watch it.
“I’m on Two and a Half Men, I don’t want to be on it,” Jones said in the video. “Please stop watching it. Please stop filling your head with filth. People say it’s just entertainment … Do some research on the effects of television on your brain, and I promise you, you’ll have a decision to make when it comes to television, and especially with what you watch on television. It’s bad news.”
The video came out just a few weeks after an episode in which his character, Jake, was engaged in a flagrantly sexual fling with a character played by America’s onetime sweetheart, Miley Cyrus. I don’t watch the show much, but last night I did catch an episode in syndication that sort of proved Jones’ point, from a conservative evangelical viewpoint: Sheen’s character, Charlie, was giving a much younger Jake girlfriend advice using cupcakes as a metaphor for sex.
The clip is part of a larger video of Jones’ testimony on the website in which he talks about going to a Christian school while he was on the show and getting into drugs and materialism until late last year when he was contemplating future endeavors (the half-hour testimony is in two parts).
“I had said, ‘God’s definitely going to be a part of this,” Jones said of his plans. “And it kind of hit me, ‘No, God is the center of all this, God is the reason for all this.’ And right when I said that, I had this feeling of warmth, acceptance, love.”
He said that at that moment, “I felt like I just accepted God into my life.”
He said after that, he contemplated whether to continue doing the show, aware that it was a compromise with his new-found beliefs.
Later in the video, he said, “You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that. I know I can’t.”
But will he be?
Jones did not say he is quitting the show, and Monday, representatives of CBS and the show had no comment on the video. According to England’s Daily Mail, Jones’ mother claims he is being exploited by the church.
It has been pointed out in most accounts of Jones’ testimony that he makes $350,000 per episode of the show, which would be a nice annual salary for most people. Numerous commentators have accused Jones of hypocrisy, cashing checks for something he believes is immoral. But remember, he was 10 when he started on the show, pursuing an acting career his mother suggested as a good way to make money for college. And he is under contract.
His beliefs are still forming — I think few of us hold all of the same convictions we had when we were 19.
But now he has declared beliefs and he will have some life decisions to make. In the video, he talked about possibly using his position on the show as a forum for evangelism, though it may be hard to take him seriously if he continues in a show that basically has promiscuous sex as its centerpiece. But if he is no longer on the show, how loud will his voice be? Could he pursue a career like fellow-former child star Kirk Cameron, who is now a speaker and something of a superstar of Christian film? And if he did, would he just be preaching to the choir?
Show producers may be making some of those decisions for Jones. After all, they have written around the loss of a major character before.
From a TV viewers’ perspective, you have to wonder if Jon Cryer has a meltdown in him, and what form it might take.
Or will he just be the last man standing?
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich