'Sons of Tucson' plus two dogs (one real, one not)
And now the story ... but first, another picture...
It's October 2009, and it's entirely possible that by the time you see the episode filming this day of Fox's new "Sons of Tucson," premiering Sunday, March 14, at least one of the boys in the cast will have sprouted to 6 feet tall - unless the dog eats him first.
Just kidding - the only real dog on set this day is a well-trained German shepherd painted black to play a wolf. There's also a fake dog covered in black cloth with jagged white teeth and scary goggle eyes, but it's probably harmless.
There are also toaster waffles, but first, a few details.
"Sons of Tucson" stars Tyler Labine ("Reaper," "Invasion") as Ron Snuffkin, an employee at a big-box retail store who signs on to play dad for three motherless brothers - control-freak middle kid Gary (Frank Dolce), smooth eldest brother Brandon (Matthew Levy) and the youngest, Robby (Benjamin Stockham), who may have criminal tendencies - whose real dad, a financier, is in jail.
The boys take up residence in a Tucson, Ariz., investment property owned by their father, who set up Snuffkin in the toolshed on the condition that he'll pretend to be their dad when necessary (for a price).
Among the show's executive producers is Justin Berfield, formerly known as the second-oldest brother on Fox's "Malcolm in the Middle" (many of that show's crew now work on "
Perched on a blue bench in the fake backyard of the house set in Santa Clarita, Calif. (next to the spooky fake dog), Berfield says, "I don't really consider myself the big boss, but that's the title they've given me. I act the same way I did before - just be respectful to everyone. As long as everyone does their job, hopefully we will have a successful show.
"That's all you can hope for. It should be simple. That's my philosophy."
Later on in the toolshed, wearing Ron's work uniform of an orange polo shirt, Labine reflects on having his first starring TV role.
"I've always been the second banana or third or fourth banana," he says. "It's an odd transition."
A friend gave him advice.
Recalls Labine, "He said, 'You've got to remember that you're not there to steal scenes anymore, not that you do that intentionally, but you can't go in every scene, guns blazing. You have to really tell a story, pace yourself.'
"It's a very different thing, being the lead of a show."
Dolce also bears a heavy burden, as
"There are times where I feel like I'm constantly on them," he says. "I know that's my character, but there are times when I feel that
Levy, who has definite teen-idol possibilities, plays the cool kid.
Since Robby has eye troubles in this episode, little Stockham alternates between wearing shades and walking into things.
"I love doing it," he says. "I even did it when I was a kid, just to be fun."
And he really likes the dog.
"He's so fun," he says. "They put baby food on my face, so he licks me now."
The dog is only a guest star, but the kids are permanent fixtures, and Labine's fine with that.
"I enjoy it," he says. "I love it. These kids are amazing. But every time I do get a chance to do a scene with an adult, I get really giddy."