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Joey Lawrence ready to have fun as ‘Chippendales’ host

Chippendales isn’t such a leap of voyeurism for Joey Lawrence. He grew up in the public eye.

Enough celebrities have guest-hosted the Rio’s male G-string revue to predict a pattern when they are announced. Little details such as “guest host” will fail to make the headline leap, so most news outlets end up running a ha-ha! item implying said celebrity has become attention-starved enough to writhe in a G-string as well.

Not a problem for the “Melissa & Joey” star, and presumably not for his TV hosts at ABC Family. “I’ve been doing this for 31 years. I’ve heard everything anybody could ever say about me,” says the 35-year-old actor.

Just to make it perfectly clear though, “maybe a shirt comes off here and there,” he says. (If he follows the precedent of Jeff Timmons or Jake Pavelka, he would be talking about a quick display of Chippendales’ signature “collars and cuffs” in the course of a skit.)

“Other than that, I’m not going to compete with those muscle monsters doing their thing,” he says. He even plans to give the ladies a bit of vocal rest. Instead of doing one of his pop singles such as “Rolled,” he plans to croon the Sinatra standard “My Kind of Town (Chicago).”

“We’re going to do this Rat Pack throwback thing, because that’s my favorite era of Vegas,” he explains. Lawrence considers it “a fun little sexy song,” one that promises “a much more intimate kind of experience than at least what I saw when I watched the show last week.”

So he’s not doing this to promote his pop music, and he doesn’t need a job: The second season of “Melissa & Joey” just began running on ABC Family. So why the heck is he doing it?

For an “out-of-body experience,” of course.

“For me you do it for fun. Period,” he says. “I’ve never done anything this crazy and I just said, ‘What the hell.’ ”

By the time he wraps up the hosting engagement June 24, Lawrence should know if ABC Family has ordered more episodes of his sitcom with Melissa Joan Hart, in which plays a commodities trader whose reversal of fortune forces him to become a “manny” to her nephew and niece.

Lawrence is an executive producer of the sitcom, a format he grew up in as a child/teen star of “Gimme a Break!” and “Blossom.” “I’ve been doing it longer than a lot of people I work for,” he says.

So it’s no accident that “Melissa & Joey” had a solid first season and is off to an even better start this year. “I said, ‘Look, if we’re going to do a half-hour comedy, I know how to put one of these things together. Let’s just do this the right way. … You’ve got to hire the right people.’ And they did.”

Lawrence says he was able to avoid the “Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star” syndrome because he never vanished. “It’s not like I was successful in my teens and that was it,” he says.

“When you are the most popular 18-year-old in the world, that’s a height that you may never reach again, so to speak, but I’m fine with that,” he says of his “Whoa!” catchphrase days on “Blossom.” “At 18, I couldn’t have done anymore than what I did at 18.”

But, he says, “at 35, I’m just gettin’ rolling, man. This is sort of the beginning for me.”

In a civilian job, he explains, “you put your work in in your 20s and 30s and you cash in in your 40s and 50s.” He hopes to follow suit.

“Most of the guys I grew up emulating really started to hit their prime when they were in their 40s. Guys like (George) Clooney and Jeremy Renner. Dude, it wasn’t until they were in their 40s that things started to get going.”

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@
reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

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