At a time when many believe TV has gone to the dark side - due, in part, to vulgar reality shows that spotlight people’s greed - Ron Howard is hoping his “Parenthood” family TV show survives.
He would be considered royalty or even “Prince Ron Howard” if television could grant such royal titles to someone who played Opie Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show” for eight years, and later teenager Richie Cunningham in the sitcom “Happy Days” for six years; while also presenting his favorite film “Parenthood,” that’s also the title of the family TV drama that he owns and overseas as executive producer. While Howard has earned Oscars and every TV and film award imaginable; its family that he honors first and foremost. In fact, when Vanity Fair asked Howard “What do you consider your greatest achievement?" Howard replied, "Forty-eight consecutive years of steady employment in television and film, while preserving a rich family life."
However, Ron Howard has been forced to defend his TV show “Parenthood,” after critics said its “dated, sentimental, family nonsense,” that’s out of touch with today’s TV reality shows that feature what Americans really want on the tube, and “that’s more sex, violence and greedy people finishing first.”
Thus, Howard is bullish when it comes to both his “steady employment” on television” and his TV show “Parenthood” – one of the few remaining family-focused dramas now on television – that returns for its fourth season when it premieres on NBC Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 10/9c.
Howard focuses on American values with his show “Parenthood”
Howard, 58, is also obviously proud of his TV persona as both Opie Taylor and Richie Cunningham as he reprised and spoke about both roles in a now legendary video funnyordie.com in which he endorsed President Barack Obama back in 2008; while Cunningham continues to promote the responsibility for all Americans to get out and vote.
Also, Howard is a “Baby Boomer” and someone who grew up – both on TV and in Los Angeles – in the 1960s and ‘70s when many young people in America were caught up in a wave of political and social activism; while getting their strength from the family unit at home that today serves as the basis for the “Parenthood” TV show that Howard overseas as executive producer.
For instance, Parenthood is one of the few TV dramas today that revolves around fathers and mothers who say "I love you" to their children during almost each and every episode; while, in turn, their kids also speak of love, respect and doing the right thing as more important that getting more stuff.
Howard taught it's more important what a man does, than what he owns
After all, Howard mentored under the late great TV legend Andy Griffith who told "Opie" back in the Sixties that "it's more important what a man does, than what he owns."
During recent media interviews and talking frankly on the “extras” for the “Parenthood” DVDs, Howard takes an uncompromising look at the issues facing today’s family; with a special focus on youth and young adults.
In turn, Howard is a serious TV producer and film maker who are concerned, he said, about widespread cynicism and the influences that perpetuate our culture’s apathetic approach to social and political causes.
At the same time, Howard is enlisting some of his “Parenthood” stars - such as Lauren Graham – to help get the word out that Parenthood is good TV and worth watching; while it’s no secret that NBC was on the fence after last season’s poor ratings, with plans to cancel the show.
But, good news for fans is “Parenthood” made the NBC cut. However, the network has reduced the number of episodes it will pay for this season.
Thus, Howard and members of the cast are out marketing the show before it returns for its fourth season Sept. 11.
Parenthood cast marketing "family drama" on TV
Given the fact that "Parenthood" is up against both TV entertainment and reality shows on the other networks during its airtime on NBC, the show's producers are buy marketing the show on its website, Facebook, Twitter and by sending cast members out to plug the new season on television talk shows.
For instance, the Parenthood program website stated that Lauren Graham is set to appear on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno tonight, Aug. 31, to help promote the new season of this family drama.
Graham has portrayed single parent Sarah Braverman for the past three seasons of “Parenthood;” and thus, she will be talking to Leno about Ron Howard’s decision to keep the show focused on family issues while also making the show more competitive by adding “Everybody Loves Raymond” star Ray Romano to the “Parenthood” ensemble cast as the new love interest for Graham’s “Sarah” on the show.
Ron Howard always talking “Parenthood”
As executive producer the NBC family show Parenthood, Howard is always trying to promote this show that is based on the 1989 film of the same name that he directed. Back in 2010, Howard talked about the need to have a “family drama” on TV during a Television Critics Association press tour.
Howard said: “Parenthood is a project that I really cherish. It's a great memory. It was a great creative experience. To this day, it's probably the most personal film that I've ever really been involved with or story that I've been involved with. And so it's something that I hold near and dear. Ultimately, it's about, the unbelievable ups and downs of parenting, the absurdity of it, the pain of it, and also, significantly to me, the nobility of it. But it's also just about being responsible and being in a family.”
With the TV version of “Parenthood,” Howard said he decided that this was a good time to revisit the characters he created two decades ago. “As a creative person, it's unbelievably gratifying to see that an idea that was born 20-some years ago, yielded something that we were all proud of then, has, frankly, evolved into something that I think can be so entertaining, so impactful and is just already so beautifully executed, based on the writing and the incredible cast of the show. So I'm incredibly proud of it, what it already is.”
Ron Howard trained under Andy Griffith
While most TV shows today have their muse in some producer who wants to showcase American greed, sex, violence or other subjects that are often explored in today’s reality TV show. But, this has never been Ron Howard’s mojo.
For instance, the philosophy of Ron Howard can be traced back to being a child TV star on both “The Andy Griffith Show” and a teen star on “Happy Days.” Both of these shows are legend in the annals of American television and honored in the same class as “I Love Lucy,” and “M*A*S*H” and other legendary TV shows.
In addition, Howard explained why I wanted to make a TV show about his film “Parenthood” during interviews on the show’s DVD extras: “A long time ago, I sort of stopped trying to look at projects as genre exercises, but early on in my career, when I had been basically a sitcom actor for all of these years and I made my first movies and they were comedies and they were successes, it was very important for me to stretch. And, you know, Parenthood was one of those. Even though it was a comedy, there was a great deal of authentic drama in the pieces as well. In the last 10, 12 years or so, I just look for ideas and great characters that I relate to and I think I'll offer something to the audience, and I no longer look at them as experiments or genre exercises at all.”
What “Andy” taught Opie is mirrored on “Parenthood”
In turn, Howard has written his own tribute for his on-screen “Pa” Andy Griffith who died at age 86 on July 3.
As with his show “Parenthood,” in the end, “The Andy Griffith Show” was about a father who enjoys fishing trips with his son, Opie (Howard), and those quiet evenings on the front porch in Mayberry, North Carolina, where Opie would test his father’s parenting skills season after season and fans loved it.
In fact, the show’s theme music, “The Fishin’ Hole,” was mirrored this close bond between Andy and his son Opie; while Howard explains that it was also real life mirroring TV life with a real bond of love and respect between the two actors playing father and son.
However, there’s no real “heart” like this in many of today’s TV shows, adds Howard during recent interviews where he notes a lacking of empathy with young people today who are too wired to their screens to shed a tear for such things as a father’s love expressed on a TV show.
Real-life mirrors TV with "Opie" speaking up for his "Pa"
Howard, as the real life “Opie Taylor,” took on the task to pay tribute to his TV father July 3 with a moving story that was released nationwide; appearing in The New York Daily News, the Los Angeles Times and other national newspapers.
One TV critic, who was remembering the life of Andy Griffith on a televised talk show July 4th said “it’s remarkable that we have a TV and movie superstar such as Ron Howard paying tribute to another TV superstar who just happened to be his real life mentor when he played the role of Opie, and also a real life father figure with Howard staying close to Andy until the very end.”
Thus, the July 4th headline for the New York Daily News states “Ron Howard says co-star Andy Griffith was a leader, a mentor and coach,” with the story being reported by Ron Howard who played son Opie on this show that helped launch his successful career as director and “son” who often called on “Andy,” his TV “Pa,” for his sage advice.
As for when they first met, Howard says: “Looking back, I barely remember meeting Andy because I was 5. But I remember that first episode. It was a pilot of a spinoff of “The Danny Thomas Show.” The city guy was stuck in a speed trap and made to understand and appreciate the charms of Mayberry. And I was playing the sheriff’s son, Opie Taylor. I think there was an honesty that Andy demonstrated. He could convey the humor, the foibles, and the particulars of rural America without demeaning it.”
Flash forward to September 11 - when Howard’s “Parenthood” returns for its fourth season on NBC - with yet more family drama episodes that have more to do with love and family than screwing someone over for sex or money, as is the case with most TV shows today. Who knows for sure if the days of "Opie" are over on TV in 2012?
Image source of a public service announcement (PSA) with Ron Howard and his TV father Andy Griffith from “The Andy Griffith Show,” circa 1961, some 50 years before Howard would be calling the shots for the fourth season of his own TV show about family values that he was taught by “Pa,” his on-screen dad, Andy Griffith. Photo courtesy Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_howard
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