'Leverage': Christian Kane and John Schneider act, sing and duke it out

christian-kane-leverage-large.jpg Christian Kane is having a bunch of dreams come true with this Sunday's (July 18) episode of TNT's caper drama "Leverage," called "The Studio Job," directed by former "Star Trek: The Next Generation" star Jonathan Frakes.

First up, Kane gets to sing "Thinking of You," an original song he co-wrote, when his character, cocky tough guy Eliot Spencer, goes undercover as a country crooner to take down a corrupt record executive.

"Just like every single one of my songs," Kane says, "it's about a girl. I don't know if I could write songs if it wasn't for the female race, to be honest with you.

"It's one of those songs, it's just a sweet little good-bye kiss, but it's got a pat on the butt as you go."

Kane also gets to trade blows with a icon of his youth, since "Dukes of Hazzard" star John Schneider plays the exec in question.

"As a five-year-old kid," says Kane, "I used to sit in front of the TV -- I never missed 'Dukes of Hazzard,' not once. It was me and my dad's show. We'd watch it. Schneider's my childhood idol. Who didn't want to be Bo Duke?

"I got to end up fighting my childhood idol, and there's not a lot of people in the world -- very, very few, if any at all -- that can say, later in life, that they got to fight their childhood idol. It's just an amazing experience for me."

Like Kane, who also fronts his own band -- called, unsurprisingly, Kane -- Schneider balances his acting career with a second, musical job in Nashville.

"He does a lot of country music, man," says Kane. "I was talking to my dearest friend, Chuck Goff, he's Toby Keith's bass player. He was like, 'Hey, listen, man, for the first two years of  Toby Keith, we covered five John Schneider songs.' I'm like, 'You're kidding me!' He's like, 'No, no.'

"First of all, Schneider used to live with Johnny Cash. He wears Johnny Cash's jacket, that he gave him, on our show. He toured with Waylon Jennings and George Strait. I gotta be honest with you, I didn't realize until we were filming how big of a country singer John Schneider is."

Knowing this made it all the more special when Schneider had to sing in the episode as well.

"John Schneider sang my song on the show," Kane says. "We both kind of sing it. It was amazing to have somebody of that caliber, one of my childhood idols, singing my song on the show. It's not a duet. You have to watch it. I can't explain it to you. Listen, I'm not letting the cat out of the bag.

"It's an honor for us to trade punches, and then for him to sing my song and come onto 'Leverage.' What do you say about that? I'm actually at a loss for words right now, and you know me, I'm usually not."

The two also bonded during filming by playing golf together, and Kane hopes that personal connection continues.

"I'd absolutely love it if we could do [recording or songwriting]," Kane says. "He's still very well respected in the music industry and Nashville. Everybody just loves the guy. We'd probably have to write it on the golf course, but we'd do it."

Fans who knew Schneider as Bo Duke or as upright Super-dad Jonathan Kent on "Smallville" may see a different side of him on "Leverage."

"You don't see John Schneider as the bad guy," Kane says, "and he's the bad guy. I was thinking, 'How is he going to play this?' I started watching, and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, he nailed it.'"

As far as Kane's own musical career, he recently released a five-song EP, with a full album on the way. The first single, "The House Rules," is due out in September.

Also in the pipeline is a video for the single, directed by none other than "Leverage" star Tim Hutton (and featuring a guest appearance by "Leverage" regular Aldis Hodge). At least part of the video was filmed on June 12 at Dante's, a club in Portland, Ore., the city where "Leverage" is filmed.

"A lot of people don't know that Tim directed 'Drive,' by The Cars," says Kane. "I told him about a concept, and he polished it up. He directed the video, and Tim's son, Noah Hutton, actually cut the video. I just showed it to some guys at CMT, and they love it. We're on our way."

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