- The Washington Times - Monday, August 20, 2001

LOS ANGELES — A widowed father. Winsome kids. Droll Bob Saget as the star of the show. That may seem like an easy hundred-buck question on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" — "Final answer, Regis. 'Full House.'" — but not so fast.
Mr. Saget, who spent eight years on the ABC series that gave the world the Olsen twins, plays another widower on WB's new "Raising Dad." Any family resemblance between the sitcoms is merely a superficial, he insists.
"Raising Dad" reflects the gentle humor of its creator, Jonathan Katz, the mastermind behind Comedy Central's "Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist," Mr. Saget says.
"Full House" was, well let the actor-comedian describe it: "'Full House' was a loving kind of show but obviously over the top. It had its heightened reality, a glossy Willy Wonka quality to it."
Mr. Saget was leery at first of repeating as a solo father, but he saw a more restrained and genuine tone in "Raising Dad" and a chance to draw humor from real-life issues facing parents and children.
If comparisons are to be made between "Raising Dad" and a TV sitcom, he has a certain ABC hit in mind.
"'Roseanne' dealt with real issues with teen-agers, and that was a very good family show," he says. His own background as a divorced father of three girls makes him a good candidate for the role, Mr. Saget suggests.
"I won't know until my kids are 40 and done with all their therapy" — ("They're not in it now, I'm just joking," he quickly interjects) — "but I think I'm a good dad.
"What I love about being a parent is the chance to treat my kids like they're people, not little things, and I don't see enough of that anywhere, in any media. I don't think enough fathers, single or not, get in contact with raising kids properly, being honest with them."
In the WB series, which debuts Sept. 14 at 9:30 p.m., Mr. Saget plays Matt, a high school teacher and father of teen-age Sarah (Kat Dennings) and preteen Emily (Brie Larson). Rounding out the household is Grandpa Sam (Jerry Adler, Herman "Hesh" Rabkin on "The Sopranos").
After repeated questions about his habit of playing sitcom widowers, Mr. Saget has a ready response: "[Kevin] Costner does three, four baseball movies and that's OK. There's my rationale."
The pilot for "Raising Dad" was developed with money from major advertisers who pronounced themselves tired of selling products on sexy or violent network shows. "Gilmore Girls," which made a dazzling debut last season on WB, was bankrolled similarly.
Serving with Mr. Katz as the series' executive producer is Norman Steinberg, whose resume includes co-writing credits on the five-star films "Blazing Saddles" and "My Favorite Year."
"There's a little bit of 'I'm not worthy,'" Mr. Saget says.
He jokes that he's cheating on his old "Full House" family. The cast of the 1987-95 show, which included John Stamos and Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, holds regular reunions. "Raising Dad" has set up a friendly rivalry with Mr. Stamos, co-star of the new ABC series "Thieves," which will air from 9 to 10 p.m. Fridays opposite Mr. Saget's show.
"We've been calling each other every day, saying, 'What are we doing, why are we on against each other, why aren't we working together?'" Mr. Saget says. "I keep telling him he's gonna be the picture-in-picture, and I'll be the bigger screen."
Mr. Saget is used to TV success, having enjoyed long runs with "Full House" and "America's Funniest Home Videos," which at one point during Mr. Saget's 1990-97 tenure as host was the top-rated prime-time show.
Whether or not "Raising Dad" finds an audience, Mr. Saget plans to stay busy. He regularly appears at comedy clubs and is embarking on his first stand-up tour of college campuses this fall.
His stage routine allows him to exercise a too-rowdy-for-network-TV side. "I felt a little constrained, especially over how I had to do comedy at 8 o'clock on the video show," he says.
"You're lame at 8 o'clock at night."
Mr. Saget also has focused on directing. He worked on an episode of the new HBO series "The Mind of the Married Man," which he describes as "Sex and the City" for guys, and directed the Norm Macdonald film "Dirty Work."
Mr. Saget drew praise as producer-director of the TV film "For Hope," loosely based on the battle of his late sister, Gay, with the tissue disease scleroderma. In an upcoming trip to Washington, Mr. Saget and scleroderma researchers will seek increased federal support.
"Celebrities are more important than the people who know the actual information," Mr. Saget notes wryly.

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