world of television is something that Haley is quite familiar.
The bulk of his earliest work was centered around various television
series, and a few made-for-tv movies. What is interesting, is
that Haley would later become primarily known as a dramatic
actor, and yet most of his television work focused on comedy.
Of course the obvious explanation for that is usually the best
film scripts available are of a dramatic nature. But we should
have no doubt that Haley is more than capable, and is quite
comfortable, with both drama and comedy.
I think it
was for the best that none of the TV series that Haley had been
involved lasted for more than one or two seasons. Although it
would be very nice to be able to watch Haley in a new episode
each week, I think the "daily grind" of doing a television
series tends to erode your skills over time. It is inevitable
that as the series grinds out each season, the writing for the
show will eventually become stale and the episodes repetitive.
This is not the case for every television series, as there have
been a few with the good sense to go out while still on top. But
I think for the most part the networks tend to run the series
into the ground, and then cast the actors aside. Sort of a, "Thanks
for the last five years of your life... but what have you done
for us lately...?" kind of a thing, as the actors are escorted
off the studio lot. Fortunately, Haley was instead able to use
television in order to build his career, before crossing over
to his preferred medium of film.
Jeff Foxworthy Show" was an interesting stop along the
way as Haley continued his ascent up the mountain of excellence.
Tuesday, 12-September-1995 on the ABC Television Network, the
half-hour situation comedy was based around the stand-up comedy
routine of Mr. Jeff Foxworthy. The television landscape at the
time was seemingly populated by nothing but other shows built
around the stand-up routines of other famous comics. That is not
necessarily a bad thing, but as is usually the case with network
television, "if something is worth doing, then it is worth
over-doing". This still holds true even today, as we can
see by all the many quality "reality-based" television
up his previous computer career with IBM to focus on his stand-up
Foxworthy reserved his place in the halls of comedy with his
trademark, "You might be a redneck if..." jokes. I must
admit that I really enjoy his type and style of humour. There
is a certain friendliness in his presentation that is both open
and honest, and he never feels the need to use profanity for a
few cheap laughs. I have no problem with including him in the
same class as Jerry Seinfeld, who is probably the most famous
comic working today, as neither of them stoop to the level of
vulgar and profanity laced jokes. Anyone can string together a
series of curse words that would cause a drunken sailor to blush,
but I think the real skill can be found in those that rise above
new to the world of television and Hollywood, Mr. Foxworthy was
not quite sure what to expect from the series. He soon learned
that the network executives sometimes like to help their shows
along if they think it is for the best. A rather simple and formulaic
comedy, the only thing distinguishing it from the rest of the
other comedy series, were the concepts presented in Mr. Foxworthy's
stand-up routine and the inclusion of a certain wonderful young
actor. The show started off with decent ratings, especially in
the mid-west and south, and Jeff Foxworthy did win the People's
Choice Award as "Favourite Male Newcomer" for 1996.
But the series did not find an audience in the New York and Los
Angeles markets, and that was enough reason for the network to
step in and try and "boost" the ratings.
a move that is probably quite rare for a first season series,
at only the mid-way point of the season, the bulk of the supporting
cast was dumped from the show in order to make room for new characters
to help steer the series in a new direction. Despite the changes,
at the end of the first season (15-May-1996), the ABC network
decided not to renew the show. The NBC Television Network felt
the series still might have some potential, so they picked up
"The Jeff Foxworthy Show" (where the 23 episodes ran
from 23-September-1996 to 05-May-1997), and gave it another chance.
However, despite keeping only two of the original actors that
started with ABC, and again changing all of the supporting characters,
and moving the show from Bloomington, Indiana to the more obvious
Atlanta, Georgia... the show would only last for those two separate
and distinct seasons.
the changes made, there were two worth mentioning. In the first
season, they brought in another comedian, Jay Mohr. He certainly
added a lot of energy to the show, and it was wonderful to watch
Jay and Haley interact together in the series. What is interesting
is that even though he was only involved with the last half of
the first season, it would not be the last time that Jay would
be lucky enough to work with Haley. They would next be involved
in the same film project, less than a year later, where they both
appeared in the comedic film, "For Better or Worse...".
But Jay is probably best remembered for appearing in the wonderful
Haley film, "Pay It Forward".
other change worth mentioning occurred in the second season at
NBC. For that season, they featured another comedian, Bill Engvall.
Bill would again work with Jeff Foxworthy a few years later on
the "Blue Collar Comedy Tour", which would then spawn
the current sketch comedy television series, "Blue Collar
TV". That series marked Jeff Foxworthy's first return to
television since his original show, and it also features Bill
so many changes made to the original "The Jeff Foxworthy
Show", there were only two constants throughout the entire
life of the series. The first being the obvious, Jeff Foxworthy,
which the show was supposedly built around. The second being an
amazing young actor by the name of Haley Joel Osment . That was
something in which both networks seemed to agree... even though
he was only seven and eight years old at the time, they knew that
his potential was pretty much unlimited right from the very beginning.
They knew that he could and would deliver every single time, and
that was one of the many lasting impressions Haley left on everyone
involved with the show.
the recent promotional tour for his new series, "Blue Collar TV",
Mr. Foxworthy gave many radio interviews along with other media
events. Without fail, eventually the topic of the interview would
focus on Haley for at least a few questions. A good example of
one such interview can be found at the
All Hit 989 radio station website, which includes this portion
of the radio interview:
Announcer: Now how old are your kids...?
Foxworthy: They're nine and eleven.
So they probably don't even remember The Jeff Foxworthy
Show do they?
No, not at all. I mean now they kind of think it's cool
that Haley Joel Osment and Jonathan Lipniki were my kids
on there, because they see them in other movies.
In fact somebody had asked Engvall when we were doing
the "Blue Collar" thing, they said, "When
you all were doing The Jeff Foxworthy Show did Haley Joel
ever walk around saying, "I see dead people"?"
Ha, Ha, Ha...
And Bill said, "no he just kind of walked around saying,
"I see bad actors!""
Ha, Ha, Ha!!!
Because there are plenty of them on that show.
So did you know he was going to be the big star that he
Yeah, you know what... we did. From ah... from day one.
He was just... and the cool thing about it he was a normal
kid, but he just had this amazing ability. Because I can
memorize things pretty quickly and... I remember one night
we were in the middle of shooting a show, and sometimes
they would do a rewrite and just hand you new pages that
you would have to kind of learn on the spot. Haley and I,
it was a scene with just Haley and I, and we are sitting
on the steps and it's like three pages and we read the first
page, flip it over, read the second page... and Haley would
say, "Ok, I'm ready." And I'm like, "there's
NO way...!!!". And he was, he could sit there... he
did it like a photographic memory.
No kidding! Wow!
But a great normal kid! Then he would jump up and run
out and ride his bike and play with his dog... and just
a great little normal kid.
of the complete first season of "The Jeff Foxworthy Show"
on DVD earlier this year, still waiting for the second season
to be released, was a most welcome surprise. Finally we would
be able to enjoy some of Haley's earliest work, and be just as
amazed as everyone else was with him that worked on the show.
Right from the opening moments of the first episode, you could
already tell Haley would dominate whatever scene that he was involved.
Playing the part of "Matt Foxworthy", that domination
would be realized when Haley delivered what I thought was the
single biggest laugh of the first season. Watching the other actors
involved in the scene, you can catch a brief glimpse of their
reactions to Haley's perfect timing, as they were "frozen"
by his delivery... almost as if they would just "drop-out"
watching him perform. Interesting that Sam Robards would give
similar sentiments when he spoke of his experience working with
Haley in the brilliant film, "A.I. Artificial Intelligence".
That is something
to watch for if you should have the chance to view any of the
first season's 18 episodes. There are many brief moments where
you can catch a glimpse of the adult actors involved in the scene,
with a large grin on their face, as they are amazed by Haley's
performance. Not to be overshadowed by the comedy, during the
few dramatic scenes that focused on Haley, you can feel the heart
ache of the studio audience, as they became lost in the moment
from watching the scene.
Osment families southern roots, I think it is easy to understand
why they would jump at the chance to be a part of this series.
It was an open and honest presentation of a "normal"
southern family, trying to make there way in a non-southern state,
and they retained the southern humour for the laughs. That might
sound like the same formula for other shows featuring a family
(minus the southern humour of course), but in this series the
young kid does not make wise-cracks to the adults, so that they
look silly and incompetent for a few cheap laughs. Despite whatever
antics they were involved, at the end of the day in this series,
the family still loved each other and tried their hardest to raise
their son with the best relationship they could provide. I suppose
that was one of the reasons for the shows lack of success, they
were not trying to "best" each other in a game of "witty"
comebacks and remarks.
I was mildly
surprised at how much I enjoyed this series on DVD. Given all
of the negative feedback you usually find associated with the
show, I wasn't sure what to expect. But time and again I should
have learned by now that Haley does not disappoint. I find myself
watching the episodes from this series more often than any of
the slate of comedies currently available on television. I consider
myself quite fortunate that I can watch and enjoy this momentary
stop along the way in Haley's amazing career. It is a wonderful
glimpse at his extraordinarily complete talent.
Haley is the
long awaited Jeff Foxworthy series featuring Haley
Joel Osment is finally released on DVD ! The Complete
First Season is available now , released 27th July
there is very little information remaining that mentions Haley's
earliest work, It has all faded into the mists of time. There
are a few scraps of information here and there, but nothing to
the level I was hoping to present with these articles. The "Echoes
from..." series stalled as I was searching about looking for
any lost treasure, but there was none to be found. That left two
options, either kill the series completely, or present what little
there was and be glad to have something. Well, I like this series,
and I especially like focusing on Haley's earliest work, because
that was an important part of his career. So I decided to evolve
the series again, and will attempt to make the best use of what
little information can be found. It isn't perfect, but it is better
than nothing. I will add this article was stalled for quite some
time. Then I spotted something, and suddenly the article found
new life. I'll include the image with this article, as it very
much captures how everything sort of "echoes through time" the
way that it does. It is so simple that it is hardly even worth
mentioning... and yet I think it is so much more.
This is the sort of thing that makes these all the more fun to
do... when you spot stuff like this. Interesting how everything
always seems to come around full circle. Starting with the comedy
of "The Jeff Foxworthy Show", as the echoes flow right on into
the dramatic, "The Sixth Sense". So simple, and yet somehow it
means so much more.