I hope you’re watching ABC Family‘s Melissa & Joey, and if you are, you’ve got a treat in store for you tonight as the show welcomes two cool guest stars. It’s a Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and Blossom reunion with both Elisa Donovan and David Lascher joining Melissa Joan Hart in fun guest spots.
The pair have an interesting, oft-intersecting career path. Just to refresh your memory, both were on the Clueless television series, both were on Blossom, Beverly Hills, 90210, and Sabrina.
Lascher will always be Ted from Hey Dude! to many, but hasn’t done a lot of acting post Sabrina.
As I said, the duo are on Melissa & Joey tonight (see promo above), and they recently shared some thoughts about the episode, Melissa, and life in general. Don’t miss it tonight, and check out what they had to say below.
How did you feel when you were approached about being a part of the show, and coming back to work with Melissa Joan Hart?
Elisa – I was just thrilled at the whole plan. At first I didn’t know that David was going to be on the show, and then when I got the script, I just thought, this is just fantastic. Because there’s obviously such a history between all of us, and to come back and all work together as adults was just fantastic.
We used to talk about very different things, and now we talk about our kids and what schools they’re going to go to. It’s just been a whole different experience, and it was wonderful. David and I have worked together a ton. The first show I ever did, the first sitcom I ever did was Blossom, and I don’t think we crossed paths on that, but David was clearly on it. He was on it for far longer than I was. But, we have a lot of crossover, David and I.
David – And then Clueless we did together. Melissa and I have kept in touch and our families are close, and Elisa and I always keep in touch through text. When I got called to do the show, I was thrilled to be working with Melissa again, like old friends coming together. And then I saw that the role was to play Joey’s bitter divorced friend, who has nothing nice to say about married life, and how great his single life is again, and he wants to go out partying and looking for girls.
When Elisa showed up it was just a great reunion. It was so nice to work together again as grown-ups with a different perspective.
What are some of your fond memories of working with Melissa on Melissa and Joey and Sabrina?
Elisa – Melissa is just a very rare breed of person that has been in the business since she was so young, and yet she’s been able to maintain such a sense of normality and kindness and genuineness about her, and a great spirit. But yet she’s a total pro.
I just enjoy working with her, and when we did Sabrina I felt more like her big sister, in a sense. I kind of felt like I was looking out for her—I mean, which is absurd, because I’m not that much older than her. But I felt sort of maternal towards her, and now we’re far more equals in terms of our families, and it just has been a really nice experience all around.
I’m not sure specifically what I would say, but that’s my general experience. So, it’s always fun, and she really is—she’s funny and easy and a pro, you really can’t ask for much more than that.
David – I remember when we were on Sabrina, it was like a big family. Melissa’s mom Paula was like—because my family’s back East—was like a mother to us. And literally, her front door to her house was always open to me and my whole group of friends. I had friends that would go over there for game night when I wasn’t even there.
Everyone would just be coming and going, and Melissa was always having people over, and so were me and my wife, and it was like a big family.
Elisa – Yes, they always had Christmas parties. It was very much like a big family, that’s really true. Very inclusive, and Melissa always had these Christmas parties for the girls which, sadly, David was not invited to. The manicures and the massages and the music and wine. It was just super fun, and you showed up in your pajamas. It was really fun.
David And now we go to CPK with the kids.
What do you both miss most about being on the show Sabrina?
Elisa – It’s funny as I look at it now, as I’m older. I think there was such a magical—obviously, no pun intended—magical quality to this show that is really rare. I’ve had people that have grown up now and tell me how much it meant to them, because it was so extraordinary in that way, and it gave them a sense of creativity and magic, really. And that part of it now, as a parent, I feel like, “Oh, I would love to be a part of that sort of a show again” where you’re contributing to young kids’ interest and excitement about television and creativity and storytelling.
It’s really fun to work with friends. When you work on a series like that for a while, you really do, as David said, become a family. And I miss that part of it, the everyday, being together and laughing, and we have gag reels from that show that are pretty hilarious, that I feel like should be one day aired somewhere. So, I think those are the things I miss.
David – Yes, I also really enjoyed being on a show that played to the younger teenage audience, because really they just enjoy it. They’re not cynical or jaded about it, the audience just loved the show, and I really loved watching the relationship between my character, Josh, and Sabrina develop from this friendship. I was her boss for my first season, and then watched it develop kind of naturally into a romance over two or three seasons.
It’s really a treat to do that kind of series work where it really spreads out over a number of years, and happens almost in real time. And also working with such close friends, it was just such a special thing.
If you could guest star on any current show other than Melissa and Joey, what would be your pick?
Elisa – Oh, I would say Brooklyn Nine-Nine or The Mindy Project.
David – Well, I know it’s not on the air anymore, but I just finished watching Breaking Bad, and I would love to do something on that dark, twisted type of show. And comedy-wise I would love to do Modern Family. I think that show’s hilarious and really pushes the envelope.
Elisa – Oh, yes. Modern Family too, I agree. Oh, or also Nashville. I love Nashville. I can’t sing, but I can really pretend to sing. I can lip-sync super, super well.
Who has been your favorite character to play?
Elisa – Oh, goodness. I would say this character Gail Evans. I did a web series for NBC called In Gail We Trust, and she was a Midwestern insurance agent who basically was a therapist to all of these wacky people in this small town. I mean, she wasn’t really a therapist, she was an insurance agent, but in selling the insurance she was kind of helping people guide their lives. I loved this character because I just based it on my mom.
So, all of my instincts—and my mom is not from the Midwest, but she has this same very sunny, always positive, a little bit wacky, but very, very positive vibe—you know, would go to any lengths to see the sunny side of things. So, it was not only really easy for me to play, it was very fun because I just thought of her.
David – I’ll say, too, one that’s very dramatic but was very meaningful to me was a movie I did for Starz and Encore called A Call to Remember, with Joe Montegna and Blythe Danner playing my parents who were holocaust survivors. It takes place in the ‘60s, and it was a true story, and I played the writer of the screenplay, and it was really about the pressure that’s put on second-generation kids of survivors, and how much pressure their parents put on them to make their lives meaningful. Just working with Joe Montegna and Blythe in such a serious subject matter was one of my highlights.
And then on a more mainstream note, being on Blossom, I got to play over a few years this really tough guy, this Italian guy named Vinny who only Blossom saw a softer side in him. So, I loved playing a tough guy who had a real soft spot for his girl.
Can you give a brief description of your upcoming roles on Melissa and Joey?
Elisa – I play a woman who David’s character and Joey meet in a bar. Joey is being the wing man for David’s character. Then I wind up being the museum curator at an event that Melissa has to attend and speak to me at, and she discovers that the two of us have been in contact, and then you’ll see what happens after that.
David – I play Charlie, who is Joey’s recently divorced friend, happily divorced friend, which was so much fun to play, because Joey’s in a committed relationship, and I am constantly talking about how great it is to be single again and find other women attractive again.
What does it mean to you to continue to have such an impact on your fans throughout the years?
Elisa – I feel incredibly grateful and humbled by the whole thing, truly, because life moves on and we do all sorts of things. Your life gets bigger, and there are children and family and all of these things involved. I’m constantly amazed at the impact that the work that I’ve done has had on people. Because I don’t walk around thinking “I’m so-and-so from such-and-such of a project,” I walk around thinking I’m myself, and then I’m approached daily—I mean, this just happened yesterday, I was in the drug store with my daughter. And of course it usually happens when I have sweatpants on and my hair is up and I’ve got zit cream on my face or something.
But it happens all the time, and I think, wow, it’s a really special thing that we’ve been a part of things that have really shaped people’s—I don’t know about shaped their lives, but just kind of shaped part of their socialization and growing up—I feel it’s really special. I feel like there’s an interesting responsibility to that, and it’s really meaningful, and I love it. I always love when people come up and say hi, and I never feel bothered by that. So, it’s special, I think.
David – Yes, I agree. It is a special thing to have been part of somebody’s childhood, and what’s really cool for me is that those audiences from the ‘90s are growing up as we are. So, more specifically, I have a film that I’ve written and directed that in April is premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival, which is a whole new endeavor for me, and then in June the Austin Television Festival is having a Hey Dude reunion, which is the first series I ever did on Nickelodeon, and the whole cast is coming back, and all the writers. I’ll be able to go to Austin and promote and tell all these fans of the show who are now in their 20s to look out for this more serious piece of work that I’ve done. It’s great to have those fans that you had when they were younger; they sort of grow up with you and your work. It’s not like they just go away. It’s a special thing to grow up with your fans that you had when you were younger. I really appreciate how awesome that is.
Were there any funny behind-the-scenes moments while filming this episode of Melissa and Joey?
David – I had my 11-year-old daughter there who was running around backstage, eating the craft service and hanging out. That was kind of special for me. And then just being with Joey and Melissa—you know, Joey and I did Blossom for so long, and Melissa from Sabrina, it was almost like having two friends from two different parts of your life in one situation. It was just surreal, but really in a great way.
Elisa – Also, especially having Melissa directing, there was such a shorthand between us because we’ve worked together for so long that it just makes it extra fun, and extra special.
And a funny thing, I think, between the two of them—the two of them as people, Melissa and Joey, have both been in the business for so long, and it’s almost like they have this brother-sister kind of relationship in real life. It’s sort of funny, because they’re both such professionals and have been doing this for so long, and it’s just fun to work with the two of them together.
What is it like filming in front of a live studio audience?
Elisa – Oh, it’s so much fun! I adore it, I love it, because there is just an unmistakable energy that is in the room from the second that you walk on to set, and it just imbues you with so much energy. I love it. It’s like doing theater.
David – Yes, it’s really exciting. The energy—it’s a little nerve-racking. It’s a nervous energy, but it definitely keeps you awake and makes you bring your best A-game, and when you get a laugh from a live audience, there’s nothing like it. It brings it to another level. It’s exciting!
How did your guest appearances on Melissa and Joey get started?
Elisa – In my case, they called and asked if I was available to come and do an episode. I live out of town, so when I work I go down to LA, [it’s usually] for periods of time. But at that particular moment I was at home in San Francisco.
So, they called and asked if I was available and interested, and I said, of course, and that was that. And then Melissa e-mailed me and I e-mailed her back, and we were like, “Yay, I’ll see you Wednesday!”
David – Yes, me too. I just got a call saying, “Are you available to do the show?” And they sent over a script, and my first feeling was like, “Oh, ABC Family, this will be a great kid’s show, my kids will love it.” And then I read the script and I was like, “Wow, this is edgy!” There’s some edgy subject matters, and it was just really funny.
The scripts are so well written, and I was just thrilled to do it. Then I went back and did a couple more, and it’s just been fun.
Do you have any other projects coming up?
Elisa – I am doing a couple of web series at the moment. I’ve done the voice for Cheryl Sandburg’s best-selling book, Lean In. It came out last year, and they are releasing another book April 8, that is specifically geared toward graduates, Lean In for Graduates. So, that is available then.
David – I’m just finishing my first film that I wrote and directed, called Sister, that’s premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 25, with Barbara Hershey and Reid Scott and John Heard. So, I’m really excited about that!
How did the cast welcome you all to the show?
Elisa – Oh, with huge open arms! I was so excited, I felt like I’ve never had such a warm welcome from every direction, because not only did I know Melissa, Joey and David beforehand, and Paula (Melissa’s mom), obviously, there also were other crew members that had worked on Sabrina. David Kendall, who created the show, worked on Clueless, the series. So he and I had known one another for years, and it was just like this continual, happy, hugging, laughing, wonderful environment.
It was a complete joy to me. I mean, I’ve never had that experience before where everywhere I turned was like, “Hey, how are you?” And then on the stage across the way, Donald Faison was shooting his show, and I just thought, this is just madness, this is just so much fun, everywhere I look.
David – Yes, there was a lot of hugs and a lot of laughs.