OK, HERE'S THE PITCH. A PRIME-TIME series that is—stay with us here—reality based. Yeah, like William Shatner's look-it's-an-ambulance thing. Only our reality is upbeat, no violence vérité—a weekly portrait of a wholesome young couple. We've roughed out a pilot, so let's look at a few scenes.
First, the players: Kirk Cameron, 21, and Chelsea Noble, 26, those telegenic kids from ABC's sitcom Growing Pains and the Dec. 2 NBC Christmas-movie A Little Piece of Heaven. They're just dating on Pains, but in reality (ha!) they're newly married. We'll film in the three-bedroom San Fernando Valley, Calif., home they moved into following their July 20 wedding. Not much furniture yet, but that's part of the charm—they're newlyweds! We'll watch as they set up house; we'll help Chelsea pick wallpaper and Kirk install French doors. The pilot opens with the kids seated on their porch.
CHELSEA (hugging Kirk): "Have you mentioned yet that you're just the greatest husband in the world?"
This sets the tone. The kids seem truly in love, having fallen for each other on the Growing Pains set two years ago. Noble had been tapped for a small part as Kate, the girlfriend of Mike Seaver (Cameron), then saw her role expanded to play off the couple's chemistry. Things offscreen developed more slowly, but many east members knew something was up. Here's Jeremy Miller, Kirk's brother Ben on Pains: "There were little signs, like when I'd mention her name, he'd just smile. You could just tell when you'd see him sitting outside the studio playing his guitar for her."
CHELSEA (to Kirk): "I remember vividly when we first met."
KIRK: "We shook hands."
CHELSEA: "How did you feel?"
KIRK: "I thought, 'She's gorgeous.' I thought, 'Oh, gosh, this girl is in a class way above me."
CHELSEA (kisses Kirk): "There's no class above you, honey."
OK, so it isn't Moonlighting. But look—it's the kids' earnestness that makes this series fly. A little bio: Both come from family-centered backgrounds. Cameron's mom, Barbara, 41, is in the business. As his manager, she'll be a nice liaison for the show. His actress sister, Candace (Full House), 15, might be brought in for guest spots. Dad Robert, 47, a gym teacher, and sisters Bridgette, 20, and Melissa, 17, enter story lines when they arrive from their nearby home. Noble has three brothers. Her father, Fred, an engineer, died last year; her mother, Irene, a private investigator, lives in Cheektowaga, N.Y. We'll meet her on visits too. Any of these gatherings might allow for a Kirk soliloquy on marriage.
KIRK (addressing camera): "It's turned out to be much more than I thought it would be. I'm learning to live up to the highest ideals, learning to let love flourish so that marriage doesn't dwindle. Like the sunset, it gets richer by the minute."
The writers initially feared that Kirk's dialogue might be too real for prime time, but we feel that this is part of his appeal and he should run with it.
KIRK: "There are certain shows today that portray family life as a big joke, like Married...with Children. Marriage is losing its dignity. That's a passion Chelsea and I have, to bring some dignity back to marriage."
Indeed, Kirk and Chelsea are a throwback, an anachronism. To wit—
CHELSEA: "People sometimes pay me such a great compliment, saying we remind them of a young Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. They had times together but also established full careers as individuals. I think that's how it will be for us."
So you can see we're looking at a long-term run here, certainly 100 episodes and possible spin-offs if little Cameron-Nobles come along. No scheduling on that yet. Here's
KIRK: "We're taking our time. I don't think that will be happening in the next year." Mostly we want to open a window on to that rarity—a happy, well-adjusted couple as they make their way through life. And in Hollywood, no less! Which leaves one question: Will an America that sat transfixed while Julia and Kiefer self-destructed actually believe that two kids can find happiness in Tinseltown?
CHELSEA (hugging Kirk): "Can you believe it's been four months? In 30 years we'll still be doing this."
CRAIG TOMASHOFF in Los Angeles
- Craig Tomashoff.
Love outpaces art for the Growing Pains couple