Andrea Anders ("The Class") and Hayes MacArthur ("Angie Tribeca") are making television history with their work on "Mr. Mom." It has nothing to do with the fact that the new TV series is being based on the 1983 John Hughes film that cast Michael Keaton as a stay-at-home dad. Television has never hesitated to use a film as the basis for a TV show.
What makes their "Mr. Mom" so important is that it's the first original series for Walmart's streaming service, Vudu. Walmart bought Vudu in 2010; the programming available was a mix of older films that could be watched for free and recently released films that can be rented for between 99 cents and $5.99. There is no charge for the service unless you rent a movie.
The decision to start providing original programs resulted in a deal being struck with MGM. The fruits of that deal start with the launch of "Mr. Mom" on Sept. 12. It is the first of several free-to-watch originals that will be available on the streaming service.
History-making or not, Anders approached the project with the same elements of unbridled enthusiasm and joy for being an actor she has used in past projects from "Joey" to "Mr. Sunshine."
"On a set I will ask people on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the happiest what number they are. I am always a 14. So, when they called me to say they were going to make a show based on 'Mr. Mom,' I yelled 'I'm going to be Teri Garr.' I loved that movie. I love this format. I love this idea," Anders says. "Then I started reading the script and when I got to the end I said I have not felt this way about a show since 'Better Off Ted.'
"Those are big words. I liked it that much and I loved that show."
Anders replaced Alicia Silverstone on Broadway in "The Graduate" but "Mr. Mom" marks the first time she is taking on a role that someone originated years ago. Her excitement at stepping into the character that Garr played is obvious, but that didn't make taking on the character daunting. Anders argues that the opposite is true because Garr is one of the great comedy actors, and Anders would be honored to do anything that would look like a connection.
The original film relied heavily on Keaton's character starting out as being inept when he takes on the household duties that include dealing with their children. What the TV series has done is take that key element and given it a 21st century spin.
"It would be silly to be all excited about my character going to work when we all work these days," Anders says.
In the series, Megan (Anders) and Greg (MacArthur) have reached a life-changing junction in their life together. After spending five years raising their two kids at home, Megan unexpectedly gets her dream job. Their impossible search for a nanny ends when Greg decides to leave the job he hates to stay at home. Both must adjust to dealing with young people: Greg with the children and Megan with overeager millennials. The only way their working arrangement will survive is if they depend on each other.
The series meant an adjustment for the actors because of the two children playing their offsprings – and it is an adjustment Anders loves. State laws limit the amount of time that children can work so instead of having to be on a set into the early morning hours, Anders got to go home during the filming at a respectable hour. She got her first introduction to this comfortable working situation making the "Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase" movie last year.
"I was ready to keep going and they wrapped up at 5 o'clock. It was great. I am now going to have it written into my contract that there has to be a child in every project I do," Anders says.
That next project could be another season of "Mr. Mom" if the reaction is strong enough. Until a decision is made, Anders will be splitting her time between looking at other projects and being a mom. She's talking about the family-friendly series on a very important day in her personal life as it's the first day of school for her child. The teacher had told her and the other parents they could stay at school for a day or two to help with the transition. A few parents were pushing to stay a week or longer.
"Some parents were asking if they could stay the whole semester. I am like 'Three days!' I'm not staying three days," Anders jokes.