- - Thursday, September 15, 2016

Depending on your age, the name Alan Thicke means different things to you. To folks in their late-30s and early-40s, Mr. Thick is best known for playing the wisecracking-yet-sage dad for seven seasons on the sitcom “Growing Pains.” If you’re a bit older, you may know the Canadian singer-songwriter from his short-lived talk shows, “The Alan Thicke Show and “Thicke of the Night,” or the sitcom themes he wrote for “Facts of Life” and “Diff’rent Strokes.” He even sang the “Diff’rent Strokes Theme.”

But if you are a millennial, then you most likely haven’t heard of him. That is, unless you’ve caught his wonderfully fresh take on a reality show “Unusually Thicke.” But there is a good chance you know of his son, singer Robin Thicke. Yes, he of “Blurred Lines” fame.

Mr. Thicke took a moment out from a “Growing Pains” reunion at The Hollywood Show to talk about his career, the advice he gave his hitmaker son and his reality show “Unusually Thicke.”

Question: Do you get to do a lot of these conventions where you meet the fans?

Answer: No. This is my first time. I’m a virgin. And I’m having a good time.

Q: Has everyone been gentle with you since it’s your first time?

A: They have been nice to me. It is nice to connect with the people and see them in person. See who is watching or paying attention to what you’re doing now. Or watching in reruns. I’m getting some feedback.

I think comics and singers have always enjoyed that kind of interchange with an audience. Actors are sometimes isolated in ways. You don’t really get to relate face to face. And also, if you’ve been in the business long enough, and you come to a place like this, you see your life flashing before your eyes — see a lot of old acquaintances.

It’s a nice party, and you don’t have to clean up afterwords.

Q: Is it also nice to reconnect with your former “Growing Pains” kids?

A: Yeah. We’ve always stayed in touch. So it’s not unusual that we get to hang out together. It is the first time at an event like this.

Q: What is the most common thing fans say when they meet you?

A: They say, “Thanks for raising me,” and “When is Robin’s next album coming out?”

Q: What advice did you give your son Robin about going into music?

A: I told him to play an instrument, write his own songs. And I taught him how to fill out the publishing forms.

Q: What do you think about the plagiarism verdict against him in the “Blurred Lines” case?

A: I’ve said before, it’s not a healthy precedent for the music business and artists. There is an appeal in progress. We hope they win.

Q: Why do you think “Growing Pains” is so beloved?

A: I think anytime a show really clicks, it has to be because of the perfect storm of writing and casting. There are a lot of great ideas that never get anywhere because audiences didn’t quite believe the chemistry between the principles.

Then there are a lot of other factors that came into play. Like, what is your time slot? Lead-in? Who were you up against that night? There are a lot of factors that conspire to either help or hurt a show in its infancy.

Q: As an actor, were there any roles you turned down and regretted?

A: There is an urban myth that I turned down the lead in “Schindler’s List.” Which I found amusing because I’ve hardly ever not returned Steven Spielberg’s calls. Other than that, there were a couple that would have been fun to do [like] the very first “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.”

Jim Carrey was a buddy of mine from Canada. He had been on my show. I was busy somewhere somehow and didn’t get to it. In retrospect, at the very least, it would have been fun. Not a game changer, but a career move. It’s not like Leonardo [DiCaprio] wrestling with a frickin’ bear in the snow. But it would have been fun.

Q: Have you been asked to sign anything odd today?

A: No, I haven’t signed any breasts or kneecaps. That happens sometimes, but this is a very civilized environment.

Q: Let’s talk about your reality show “Unusually Thicke.” It’s not like other reality shows.

A: We call it a “Sitcom Reality.” The dialog is improvised, but the stories are scripted. The scenes are laid out, and we know what story we are trying to tell.

Q: When will the new season air?

A: The third season goes on the air this month.

Q: Is a sitcom reality show easier to do than a standard four-camera sitcom?

A: It depends on who is writing, directing and producing it. If somebody else is, as was the case with “Growing Pains,” then nothing is easier. Nothing is more pleasant on a daily basis than that. With our show, because it’s your family, it’s actually more work.

Q: Are you guarded because it is your family?

A: I don’t think we are in the initial performance. What you see is us being very open. What you guard against in your editing is, “Did I say or do anything that I don’t mean or that I’ll be embarrassed about?”

Q: Has that happened yet?

A: It hasn’t happened to me, because I’m just a wise old veteran. There are probably a couple cases where some family members did. But I said, “I can’t do that to them.”

It would be nice and dramatic and funny, but I don’t want them to have to live with that moment. I’m never comfortable with the kind of reality shows [where people] throw chairs at each other and spill wine and pull hair.


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