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Jane Espenson

Jane Espenson - "Jake In Progress" Tv Series (2005) - John Stamos Progresses

Jay Bobbin

Tuesday 10 January 2006, by Webmaster

John Stamos is the first to admit his latest show is still a work in progress.

The actor-producer enters his second season as a celebrity publicist whose love life could use some spin, as the ABC sitcom "Jake in Progress" returns Monday, Jan. 9. In its first round, the series struggled in a highly competitive Thursday berth, and Stamos is encouraged by its repositioning. He’s also hopeful about the tweaking of the premise, which adds Charlotte Ross ("NYPD Blue") to the cast as Jake’s (Stamos) ex-fiancee — and newest co-worker.

"Last year, we didn’t really know what the show was," Stamos allows, "and the network had problems programming it because of the nature of the single-camera [format] and no laugh track. We were kind of all over the place, but I’m certainly grateful that they’ve let us come back and try again. We know what we did right, and we’re just doing all of that now.

"We’ve found ways to make Jake more vulnerable and accessible this season, mainly by giving him one woman to deal with," Stamos adds. "The dealings with the ex-fiancee play throughout the 13 episodes, and it’s all high-concept, romantic-comedy stuff. We also have a new writing staff, and we’ve redesigned the sets and the wardrobe. It’s soup to nuts, as they say."

"All My Children" veteran Dondre Whitfield also joins the show as Jake’s college pal, while original supporting players Wendie Malick ("Just Shoot Me"), Ian Gomez ("The Drew Carey Show") and Rick Hoffman ("Philly") remain. Many critics welcomed former "Full House" regular Stamos’ return to series work, but the ratings were nothing to write home about, making the renewal a surprise to just about everyone — except Stamos.

"It’s not that we’re reinventing the wheel, by any means," he concedes, "but this isn’t a traditional sitcom. That genre is in dire straits right now, and I think it’s important to keep that kind of show around. It feels like ABC is nurturing this the way it used to be with shows that took a while to find their audiences. I think pairing us with Heather Graham’s series (’Emily’s Reasons Why Not,’ also debuting Monday) shows they’re trying to fill a good hour with this type of programming."

While "Jake in Progress" was revving back up, Stamos did a guest stint as a paramedic on NBC’s "ER." He reasons, "I think they brought me on to add a little bit of levity — not that I didn’t play dramatic moments as well, and I tend to gravitate toward that. I’m not saying I’m the funniest guy in the world, but there’s a niche out there for that. I enjoy being funny, or at least trying to be, especially when you’re working 10 to 14-hour days."

As he promotes "Jake in Progress" the second time around, Stamos is glad to be getting fewer inquiries about actress-model Rebecca Romijn, since the end of their marriage coincided with the premiere of "Jake." He reflects, "The show was about a single guy dating, and my life became that as well, so that was a hook. I didn’t wholeheartedly embrace it, but I didn’t stop it. It was impossible not to acknowledge it, but now, it’s liberating not to have to get into it."

For all his television experience, Stamos knows "Jake in Progress" is still a gamble. "It’s easier for me to figure out what people want to watch, and why, when I’m not in it," he says. "I’m just really focusing on playing this guy the best I can. I’m excited to get a second chance."