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Posted at 11:42 AM ET, 05/22/2008

Catching Up With John Schneider

By Liz Kelly

John Schneider. (PBS)
Catching Up With...

At 48, John Schneider is busier than ever. With 11 projects in various stages of production, the 48-year-old actor -- who first landed on the pop culture radar as the affable, golden-haired, sideburned Bo in TV's "The Dukes of Hazzard" and has more recently popped up on cable faves "Nip/Tuck" and "Smallville" -- says 2008 has been the most productive, and rewarding, year of his life.

This Sunday, Schneider will join Gary Sinise, Joe Montegna, Charles Durning and others performing at the National Memorial Day Concert in D.C. and broadcast live on PBS Sunday at 8 p.m. ET. He'll also be elsewhere on the dial, co-starring with Darryl Hannah in the made-for-TV movie "Shark Swarm" (also at 8 p.m. ET).

Schneider called from New York yesterday, where he's filming scenes in the upcoming Catherine Zeta-Jones comedy "The Rebound," to talk about Memorial Day, his new-found animal rights activism, why his 16-year-old son probably won't be posing for Annie Leibovitz and the 30th anniversary of "The Dukes of Hazzard."

Read on for the full interview...

Liz: Tell me about your role in this year's Memorial Day concert. What are you going to be doing?

John Schneider: I'm going to be starting it off. I'm going to be singing a medley -- can you call two songs a medley? -- some stuff that I've done with Erich Kunzel before. Two wonderful, patriotic songs along with 200 or so folks in the military band and choir. I've done the show several times before and it really is grand entertainment at its finest. With Erich conducting -- he's really got a heart for lots of different kinds of music -- but this particular kind of music he goes after with such vigor that it makes everybody stand up and want to sing along. It's really great.

Liz: I've talked to Joe Mantegna in the past about the show and one thing that always strikes me is that this is an event that performers come back to again and again. You said you've done the show before. Why do you keep coming back?

John: I think it's the audience because the audience is largely military. You're performing with and for people who have risked their lives for the freedoms we take for granted -- or are now risking their lives for those freedoms. And it's palpable. When you're there -- when you hear that and you're on your way to Costco or to get coffee, it doesn't fall on deaf ears, but it doesn't mean that much until you are standing in front of and among a sea of uniforms from all branches of the armed forces. It really makes you feel like you are part of something far bigger than you've ever been part of before. In an odd way, it makes you more of an American, more of a patriot.

Charles Durning, who is on the show again this year, was on the beach at Normandy. I've known Charles for 20 years and play poker with him, but seeing Charles at this event is different. You get a whole different perspective and appreciation for what Charles has been a part of and what he represents. So it's odd because you almost have to be there to understand.


Liz: Like a Grateful Dead concert, right?

John: There you go.

Liz: You've also got "Shark Swarm" debuting on Sunday, right? Tell me a bit about that.

John: It's a three-hour Hallmark Channel movie I did with Darryl Hannah and F. Murray Abraham and Armand Assante. Really terrific movie. It's not -- there are sharks swarming and that's a major part of it -- but the reason they are doing this is really more newsworthy because it has to do with polluting our oceans.

Liz: I know Daryl is a big advocate of environmental causes. Are you, too?

John: Well, I'm becoming far more educated -- some because of "Shark Swarm," some because of the really amazing people I've met while I'm here in New York doing this movie with Catherine Zeta-Jones, "The Rebound." And I happened upon a group of people at the hotel who are representing a book called "Thanking the Monkey."


It's a non-browbeating book by non-browbeating people whose goal is to educate you and me and everybody else about where food comes from. Conditions, that's all. These are not people who argue diet. They're people who say, "Hey, have any idea how they treat these animals when they're going through this process." And I've seen things now that just horrify me. I had no idea. Absolutely no idea.

Liz: So is there a vegetarian future in store for you?

John: I don't know. I'm certainly thinking about things differently now, which is certainly the first step. It could be. Because like I said, I had no idea of the inhumanity of it. We're hidden from that.

The book is great. Karen Dawn wrote it. Fantastic book. So I've been hanging out with Karen Dawn and, oh -- what's her name? -- "Skinny Bitch" (Note: The book was written by co-authors Kim Barnouin and Rory Freedman. We're not sure which one was hanging with John.)

And it's actually changed the way the last three meals I have. I also hung out with Persia White and Heather Mills McCartney. And with Captain Paul -- who's the guy who goes out and puts his boat in between the whales and the whalers and it's just been amazing.

When I saw her [Dawn's] things and there are a lot of references in it to Web sites when you read this book -- these things are just shocking, which is good, I think. Which is funny, because a lot of people at the head of this are saying, "We really don't think we should put stuff out there that's so shocking because it'll turn people away." And I say no. You can't not look at this. You have to show people gore. I mean the kittens in the cages being pushed off a 12-foot drop. I just had no idea that people -- who are fathers and go home and have dinner with their families and pet the family dog -- can be throwing turkeys and chickens against the wall. People need to know that.

Liz: Let's talk about "The Rebound." Can you tell me a little more about your role?

John: Sure. I am a chiropractor -- one of her [Zeta-Jones's] dates. And you look at me and look at her and think, "this is the one." But my character has some quirks I can't tell you about, but they're very funny. And they make me quite obviously not the one. We have three terrific scenes together. One is the meeting scene where I'm talking about what I do as a chiropractor and talking shop. The second is a dinner and a third one is in a taxi cab where I'm trying to force myself on her, which is hysterical, too.

She's very funny. And I've known Michael [Douglas] a long time. Not a lot, but for a long time because the first movie I ever did was with his father, Kirk. So I've known the family a while and it was really cool. As someone who has been in this business a long time, you have a tendency to forget the visibility you have -- or if you have any reputation good, bad or indifferent. And when someone like Catherine says, "Oh Michael wanted me to make sure I said hi to you, he just loves you," that feels good. Here I am sitting in the back of a cab with Catherine Zeta-Jones who is telling me Michael Douglas has fond memories of me -- it just makes me feel good as a human being.

Liz: But you're all over the place right now. I'm looking at IMDB and it lists you as having 11 projects in various stages of production.

John: It's really quite amazing. It's been the most productive year of my life. Children aside, of course. There's "Shark Swarm" -- and I even met the shark people and they say they're "reserving judgment until we see it," because it's really a movie against pollution, not against sharks. So, that and then there's one I'm doing with a wonderful woman, Brenda Hampton, who did "7th Heaven" for 11 years -- she's got a show for ABC family we're doing now called "American Teenager." I'm in that and my son plays a role in that, which is great. It's his first time in front of a camera. And we're shooting a six-hour miniseries on the island of Catalina, starting June 2. That's called "26 Miles."

So it's really fantastic. And I'm not just hired on many of these. On "26 Miles" I'm an executive producer and one of the two directors of the six hours and it really is a very rewarding time in my life right now.

Liz: It's interesting to see you working with your son. When I saw that my mind leaped to thinking about Billy Ray Cyrus and his daughter Miley and their recent press over those Vanity Fair photos. So, any Annie Leibovitz portraits in your son's future?

John: No, I don't think so. That's a little odd, don't you think? The pictures that were most "ewww" to me were not the ones people were talking about. It was the ones with her head in her dad's lap. It's just odd. I don't understand it. So the uproar had to have been manufactured because people were upset about the wrong pictures.

Schneider (right) with 'Dukes' co-stars Tom Wopat and Catherine Bach. (TNN)

Liz: You've done so much and you're so busy, but are you still plugged in to the "Dukes of Hazzard" fans and the people you worked with on that show?

John: I am. Especially right now because this is our 30th anniversary since we started and we're having a huge event in Atlanta called Dukesfest and that's -- we could have anywhere from 70,000 to 100,000 people there, from all over the world. "Dukes" remains a family member. It doesn't feel like a television show anymore. People look back on their Friday nights with the Duke family as time they spent with family members of their own -- grandma and grandpa on the couch who are no longer around. I mean "Dukes" was very popular when it was on, but "Dukes" seems to have worked its way right into peoples' lives -- really unlike any other television show. if people are interested. I'd love people to come out. We've got a really clever guy who does the Web site and he includes directions and places to stay, so you can plan this affordably -- with the price of gas today.

Liz: For sure. The General Lee would be guzzling it up by the hundreds. It'd be a huge portion of the shooting budget.

John: Four glorious miles per gallon.

Liz: Thanks for talking to us.

John: Thank you.

John Schneider's Official Web page

(This isn't my first run-in with residents of Hazzard County. I interviewed Ben "Cooter" Jones back in 2003 when he still had Cooter's Place in Sperryville, Va.)

By Liz Kelly  | May 22, 2008; 11:42 AM ET
Categories:  Catching Up With...  
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So let's do the math: The Dukes of Hazzard began production 30 years ago, and John Scheider is 48. So he was all of 18 when he starred in Dukes?

And how did I get so old so quickly?

Posted by: Sasquatch | May 22, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I was wondering about his age too. Dear God, John Schneider's only three years older than me. How is that possible?

And I was glad I was sitting down when I read "Darryl Hannah and F. Murray Abraham and Armand Assante" -- so we got the Splash mermaid, Antonio Salieri and Nicky Arnstein together? What a combo.

Johnny sure does drop a lotta names, doesn't he? I'm sure that when Catherine Zeta-Jones told him how much Michael Douglas likes him, she didn't point out that she was all of 14 when he and Kirk did "Eddie Macon's Run".

I'm happy for his success, but think his comments are a little too scripted to chew on much.

Oh, and the mention of a certain teen star has me bracing myself for the TTTs.

Posted by: td | May 22, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

at first, i'm thinking, "this is quite possibly the stupidest person on the planet" (re: animal cruelty and his "not knowing"), but then he goes and makes a shrewd assessment of the cyrus pictures (the skeevy ones were the ones with her dad!!!). i'm so confused now.

the "dukes" was huge, and still pretty big all over the world. ten years ago, i ran into some dutch kids in france who had a pretty good understanding of english. they said they learned it from watching "dukes" (and roscoe p. coltrane!). oy!

Posted by: wats | May 22, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Oops, my bad. Omar Sharif, not Armand Assante, was Nicky Arnstein. Armand was a Mambo King. Sometimes I confuse them (you know, like my Jessica problem). I sure hope Spike Lee doesn't get on my case about this.

Posted by: td | May 22, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I thought Omar Sharif was Nicky Arnstein.

Posted by: PJ123 | May 22, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I thought Omar Shariff was Nicky Arnstein.

Posted by: PJ 123 | May 22, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Sorry - computer glitched. Probably at the thought that I can still sing all of Nicky Arnstein's songs from Funny Girl - which, I am almost afraid to say - I saw in the theatre, not on cable or DVD.

"You are woman... (wait for it) I am man. You are smaller, so I can be taller than."

Posted by: PJ 123 | May 22, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I liked the interview. Yeah, he dropped some names but he sounded like a fairly grounded guy who seemed to understand which of the Cyrus pics were weird and why.
FWIW, 'Dukes' was filmed in the town just over from mine and 'Cooter' was my congressman for a couple of years.

Posted by: methinks | May 22, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

td, I had the same reaction as you: he's only 3 years older than me?

Liz Kelly, you can tell us: did he make the Universal Sign Of The Crazy Person when he mentioned Heather Mills McBatty?

Posted by: byoolin | May 22, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Wait....Rick Springfield is gonna be at the Rockville Hometown Holidays on Sunday & we get John Schneider instead?!?

For shame Liz can turn in your elf boots, leggings & I<3 Noah Drake button right now.

Posted by: Bored @ work | May 22, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I forgot he dropped Heather Mills' name. That was weird. I wonder if he thought Celebritology readers would think he was cool. 'Cos that's so NOT cool.

Posted by: methinks | May 22, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I forgot he dropped Heather Mills' name. That was weird. I wonder if he thought Celebritology readers would think he was cool. 'Cos that's so NOT cool.

Posted by: methinks | May 22, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I son't know about Dukes but I enjoyed him in Smallville. Shame they killed him off.

Posted by: petal | May 22, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I really should preview prior to posting. That should be "don't".

Posted by: petal | May 22, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Ahhhh... what a beautiful man! Then and now!

Posted by: Osteph | May 22, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Ahhhh... what a beautiful man! Then and now!

Posted by: Osteph | May 22, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

sorry about the double post.

Posted by: methinks | May 22, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

td & byoolin - you're surprised that he's only 3 years older? I'm shocked that I'm 4 years OLDER! So that makes me... can't do the math... where's my nurse?... I want my pudding.

Posted by: m.a.t. | May 22, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

My husband was shocked to learn that I know all the words to the Dukes of Hazzard theme song.

Posted by: Sappho | May 22, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

However, maybe I'm younger than I think. My former freshman & sophomore college roommate, now in NYC doing voice work and acting, lists a birth year that makes her 3 years younger.

Posted by: m.a.t. | May 22, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Before his character was killed off, every time I watched Smallville, my wife would walk through the room (pretending not to watch with me) and say, "I hate men." She can't stand it that some men get better looking at they get older, instead of just looking older. Anthony Michael Hall drives her nuts, too.

Posted by: fft5305 | May 22, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Interesting--IMDB has his DOB as 1960 AND 1954:

I'm better on 1954...

Posted by: Stella | May 22, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Stella! Thank you! His IMDb mini-bio also says: "Lied about his age to get the role of "Bo" on "The Dukes of Hazzard" (1979). I feel so much better now!

Posted by: td channeling marlon brando | May 22, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Or perhaps not. His lie was that he was older than he really was, so we're back to 1960. I still can't believe it.

Posted by: td feeling old again | May 22, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Wow, he's def. aged well. Hard to believe it's been 30 years -- I used to watch the show all the time (along w/ the A-Team, Knight Rider, Dallas, and Love Boat) -- it's a wonder I turned out "normal"! I was pretty young to be watching those shows (then again, we had ONE TV, so I watched what my parents watched)! I must have picked up Dukes after it had been on a few seasons (I was born in 73). LOL.

Posted by: WDC 21113 | May 22, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

He has aged well...nice to see in Hollywood. And as for the age, well, he's still way older than I am. :) At least someone is!

When I lived in Belgium in the 1980s, many American tv shows were dubbed into French, including Dukes of Hazzard (which was VERY popular) and...yes...wait for it...The Incredible Hulk. !!! You haven't lived until you've heard David Banner say, in French, "Please don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

Posted by: Sappho | May 22, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

"You haven't lived until you've heard David Banner say, in French, ' Please don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.' "

Posted by: Sappho | May 22, 2008 3:26 PM

Hilarious! I was in Germany once and caught "Hogan's Heroes" dubbed into German! (I couldn't believe they'd even air it there.) I've also caught "Beverly Hills 90210" in Russian. ("Spaciba, Brandon." "Privyet, Andrea.")

There should be a cable channel for this stuff. I would love to watch "The Hulk" in French. I'll bet that was GREAT.

Posted by: td | May 22, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

My wife used to love to watch Smallville with me, but mysteriously as soon as they killed Pa Kent off, she stopped watching.
Coincidence? I think not.
(I even caught her watching a rerun of Dukes one day)
I think John may be her "one" that she is allowed to be with.

Posted by: DW | May 22, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

"just the good ol' boys...never meaning no all you've ever saw, been in trouble with the law since the day they were born..."

thank you. thank you very much. good night.

Posted by: wats | May 22, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

speaking of dallas, sue ellen ewing might have been the best drunk EVER. she drank mouth wash waaaay before kitty dukakis and her hair spray. a boozer ahead of her time, i'd say. *sigh*

Posted by: wats | May 22, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

John Schneider has always seemed to be the "grounded" type, although I do remember hearing about him Ebaying a restored 500hp General Lee with a starting price in the hundreds of thousands. And I'm sure that the namedropping thing is probably more a sign of his humility (aka "well, they probably won't be as interested in me as they will these other people") than ego.

Posted by: 23112 | May 22, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Name dropping is when a person brings up a famous or powerful person's name for no apparent reason in an effort to impress or give the impression that the speaker is more important than they are.

John is describing the projects he's working on because Liz Kelly *asked* him about them. That is not "namedropping." That is called answering the questions in an interview. If someone was *really* name dropping, do you seriously think the first name they would use would be Erich Kunzel? And then Darryl Hannah? puhleeese.

Posted by: sunnydaze defends John's honor | May 22, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

My mind always confuses John Schneider and David Soul. Also always confuses Dukes of Hazzard and Starsky & Hutch. Clearly I didn't watch enough of these shows to get them clear.

But it was a cool interview anyway.

Posted by: jaybbub | May 22, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Damn! Bo duke still is a hottie!!!

Posted by: Woodbridge | May 22, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

I have met John Schneider a number of times and He is a Very Sweet and caring and Multi - Talented Guy, and Yes He is Still Very Good Looking too.
And just to have The Record Straight John was Born April,8th 1960 in Mount Kisco New York.
Thank You for Letting me Post,
Jessica,From Indiana

Posted by: Jessica - Still John's Number 1 Fan | May 23, 2008 2:00 AM | Report abuse

I agree, John Schneider was doing alot of name dropping! A man has to do what he can to keep his career going and fans interested.
He seems to join a lot band wagons and projects when they are popular and then dumps them at his convenience or when they are no longer useful to him or his career.
Why didn't he do CMN this year? I remember a time when he promised he would always keep that week-end free for the kids, no matter what he was doing! He did not keep that promise this year.
I think he is a fine actor and great looking but also a human being. He makes mistakes and wrong decisions all the time.
No one ever seems to call him on them.
However, this does not diminish his acting ability.
I am a fan and will probably remain one forever, but I am also a realist. If you care to look back at his life and career through the years, you will see many ideals that have changed. One thing I must add, he is very true to his wife and kids. They are his life.

Posted by: A fan | May 24, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I have meet Mr Schneider at one of the Dukesfest and he was very very nice. He stayed at his signing table all day and did not leave it until forced by time to go in stage. Not many actors would put the fans first. By the time me and my daughter got to see him it was late and he appared some what tired, but you could not tell it by his attitude, he was so freindly and patiently stood for each and evey photo asked. I look forward to seeing him and the whole cast at this years Dukesfeast

Posted by: Elenor | May 24, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

good but heres dome new hollywood news. Yes thats what actor in narania nows himself as edmund belives in 14-year-old Skandar Keynes atheist belive in bashing god on one website on atheist says (godless basterard) WHAT IS THIS KID BELIVE IN AND WHY just got to and the interveiw of himself explans his atheist belifs. find god boy your life depends on it!

Posted by: stephen k. | May 24, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

good but heres dome new hollywood news. Yes thats what actor in narania nows himself as edmund belives in 14-year-old Skandar Keynes atheist belive in bashing god on one website on atheist says (godless basterard) WHAT IS THIS KID BELIVE IN AND WHY just got to and the interveiw of himself explans his atheist belifs. find god boy your life depends on it!

Posted by: stephen k. | May 24, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

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