Scott Baio is 45, single, and most importantly, talking about it. The veteran sitcom actor and notorious ladies man (with Pam Anderson, Erika Eleniak, Nicole Eggert, Nicolette Sheridan, Brooke Shields, Denise Richards, and Heather Locklear all taking up notches on his bedpost), is set to make his foray into reality programming when Scott Baio Is 45…and Single premieres Sunday, July 15 at 10:30/9:30c. The yin to a show like Rock of Love‘s yang, Baio is a more introspective dating show that probes into the psyche of a star who just can’t seem to commit. We talked to Scott about the state of reality TV, getting older in Hollywood, how it sucks to be called Chachi 30 years later, and why you won’t catch him getting his prostate examined on TV. Our loss? Find out!
What’s your general take on the state of reality TV?
I said to Jason Hervey, the creator of the show, early on that I really didn’t want to do a reality show about Scott Baio getting his prostate checked or getting a colonic with his friend. That’s inane and not me. I wanted to make a show that was a big story about something that doesn’t quite look like anything else. I said, if we can do that, where it’s all based on me and all based on stuff from my life and achieve…well, look, we’re not reinventing the wheel. But we’re putting another spoke in it. We just wanted to do something that was not the normal show, and I think we kinda did it. In my opinion, this is the next step of reality TV. This is the move-up as opposed to…just checking your ass for cancer.
So, in other words, Scott Baio is 45…and Single is more dignified than that?
More dignified, better storytelling…I showed it to some friends of mine and someone told me, "This is like a John Hughes movie." I said, "Wow. Good." My take on it was that I wanted it to be more like Entourage. Someone else saw it and said, "This is more like Sex and the City," kind of. I thought: Good. Thanks!
The show’s title and premise suggest that you have a problem with being 45 and single. Was this a growing concern of yours, or did you wake up one day and say, "Bam. I’m 45 and single. What do I do now?"
It’s been a slow-growing thing. I’d go out with my buddies and it’d be 10 p.m. and be like, "I wanna go home. I don’t want to be here anymore. Who are these people? I don’t know them." I slowly got to the point where I found myself in bed at 10, 10:30, thinking, "This is kinda weird." It also stems from a time when I was out, I don’t know how many years ago it was, I was probably 37, 38. I was with a friend of mine and there was a young girl by the bar, she must have been 21. She turned to me and said, "Aren’t you Scott Baio?" I said, "Yeah." She said, "Aren’t you too old to be in here?" I looked her right in the eye and I went, "Yep. I am." And I left. From that point on, it slowly snowballed.
Aging in Hollywood must be strange. Do you feel general pressure in that respect?
No. I think that’s more of a woman issue.
Honestly, I don’t really think about that. I just lived. I’m not making light of this, but I just did what I did. It wasn’t like, "Well, I got another one. Let me write that one down." I just went and did what I had to do and I was with women I found attractive. Was it great? Sure. Am I proud of it? No. Am I embarrassed of it? No. If I ever look back retrospectively, sometimes I go, "Well, that was pretty cool, I guess." I can imagine some guys thinking, "He had a pretty cool life." But I don’t really think about that, because that’s a little weird.
At the same time, during the first episode, you admit that fame has been "crippling." Do you ever regret the path you’ve taken?
No. I just don’t know anything else. What was my alternative? I don’t know. I’m not comparing myself, but I remember watching an interview with George Harrison. He was asked, "What was it like being a Beatle?" His response was, "What was it like not being a Beatle? I don’t know." I just did it. There’s no way to juxtapose my life against anything else. Would I have done things differently? Absolutely. If I had a magic wand, I could go back and fix certain things, sure.
Relatively speaking, you fared better than most, especially if you compare your experience to that of someone like Lindsay Lohan, who crashed and burned before her 21st birthday.
Well, there are a few things about that. I worked steadily until I was about 38. That helps. You don’t have downtime. I think I was on television 20 years in a row in some form or another. I never had that, "Where’s my fame? Where’s my work?" thing. I had a really good family behind me and plus, the show that I grew up on, I worked with Garry Marshall and Jerry Paris and Henry Winkler and Ron Howard and Tom Bosley. These guys were solid guys. They weren’t doing drugs. They weren’t going out, drinking and getting nuts. They were living their lives and meeting women and all that. But I mean, I had very good people to look up to. Or, not even look up to, just be surrounded by. I was never intrigued by drugs, and plus, my father would have kicked my ass. Physically! Literally!
In the segment with Erin Moran (Joanie on Happy Days and a former lover of Scott’s), you talk about being unhappy at the Happy Days reunion and otherwise being sort of frustrated when people always refer to you as, "Chachi." Do you look back on that part of your life fondly at all? Do you ever watch reruns?
Yeah! Don’t get me wrong: it’s a huge part of my life. It gave me everything I have. I’m so thankful for it. I loved doing it. It was great. But it’s over. People want to ask questions about it and that’s fine, but I literally have said to people, "It was 30 years ago. I don’t remember!" What was it like? I don’t know. What was it like when you walked out of your bathtub 30 years ago? And they keep doing these reunions. Pretty soon, they’re going to have to cart people out in wheelchairs and it’s just pretty f***in’ pathetic. In my opinion, when you do something that’s of such quality, that’s a gem like that, you leave it alone. You move on.
Yeah. I’m excited because, like I said earlier, this is a little different. I’m proud of that. But I’ve been around so long that I don’t really get excited anymore. I love to go to work, I love to do my thing, but then I go home and I jump in the pool and I play golf and whatever. It’s not the end-all in life. Don’t get me wrong: I want people to watch. I want people to like what I do. But am I excited about it? Uh, sure. But it’s a different excitement than when I was 20. It’s excitement with a thought process.
Was it weird adjusting to reality TV cameras?
Well, I wasn’t filmed all the time. It was a unique situation. Everything you see is real, but put into a form as opposed to laying it all out there. But this is me talking to a shrink, me talking to my friends, me talking to old girlfriends…all of that is real.
Was it tough dredging up the past?
Scary, not tough. A lot of women wouldn’t talk to me. Some women I was afraid of because I wronged them and hell has no wrath like a woman scorned. In the later episodes, you’ll see me flinching a few times because I really thought some of these women were going to hit me.
In the first episode, your life coach, Doc Ali, tells you that she needs you to be celibate for 8 weeks. When’s the last time you were celibate for that long?
When I was 16-years-old. Before I lost my virginity.
The ultimate point of the show seems to be not just that you’re doing this for yourself, but for the sake of your relationship with your girlfriend, Renee.
I did it for that. I did it more for me. She was fine. She doesn’t have a problem. I mean, she has other problems, but not a commitment problem. The show’s about me!
Did you find your experience on reality TV to be enriching? Did you come out improved?
Improved? Yeah, sure. I learned a lot. Without giving anything away, I learned a lot about me.
Catch a sneak preview of the first episode of Scott Baio Is 45…and Single at VSPOT now.