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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Encore Presentation: 'Growing Pains' Cast Reunion
Aired February 12, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, exclusive, the cast of the beloved sitcom "Growing Pains" together again and taking your calls. Kirk Cameron, Tracey Gold, Jeremy Miller, Joanna Kerns and Alan Thicke, the whole "Growing Pains" gang back together again for the hour. It's next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening, what a special night tonight. In September of 1985, all but 20 years ago, the hit sitcom "Growing Pains" debuted on ABC. That was the first of 166 episodes that would air before the show left prime-time seven seasons later.
Tonight, the cast of "Growing Pains" reunites on one set to celebrate the release of the show's first season on DVD. There you see the cover. Let's meet each one, not as they looked then but as they look now.
First, Kirk Cameron, who played the prime-time teen idol Mike Seaver, Kirk's well grown up. Tracey Gold, who played Mike's sister Carol. Joanna Kerns, Carol's working mom, Maggie Seaver. Jeremy Miller, Maggie's baby boy Ben Seaver, look at him; and Alan Thicke, Ben's psychiatrist dad, Dr. Jason Seaver. How long since you were all together, Alan, how long since?
ALAN THICKE: When we did the wraparound, the intros, et cetera for the DVD we all got together. They treated us to dinner and a little barbecue and a lot of reminiscing and that was, what, maybe six months ago?
JOANNA KERNS: Six months and before that the reunion.
THICKE: Then we did two reunion movies, yes.
KING: Joanna, when you saw the script what were you doing, what did you think of this?
KERNS: I was -- I was one of those actresses that was out auditioning for every pilot out there and I -- I really, really liked the script but I actually auditioned and tested twice for this, once with many, many Jasons and then the second time with only two and it was with Mr. Thicke over there and we started the next day.
KING: Did you think it would be a hit?
KERNS: I had no idea. I prayed it would be a hit but I didn't know. I mean I was terrified. I was about to get divorced at that time. We were both going through divorces at that time.
THICKE: But you told me you were already divorced.
KING: Jeremy, you were the youngest?
JEREMY MILLER: Yes, I was, eight years old.
KING: How did they -- were you a child actor?
MILLER: Yes, I had started acting when I was about five and did a few guest spots on different -- different TV shows, "Charles in Charge" and "Diff'rent Strokes" and a lot of the -- lot of the different sitcoms back then.
KING: How did you get this one?
MILLER: They said they gave it to me because of my dolphin calls but we went in and it was a big audition, probably 300 or 400 kids and went in and just sat there and really talked to them. I don't even remember if we got to rehearsing the lines. I just went in and started telling jokes, just kind of being myself and they thought it would work.
KING: Tracey Gold, what were you doing?
TRACEY GOLD: Well, mine's a little complicated because I auditioned for "Growing Pains" when, you know, the pilot was being shot and I didn't get it. They cast somebody else. So, I kind of like knew that everybody was doing the pilot and had heard about "Growing Pains" and I knew that I had auditioned, hadn't gotten it.
And then probably about two months later I heard that they were going to recast the part of Carol Seaver and they called and asked if I would come back in and read for it and I'm like, no, you already saw me and didn't like me.
KING: We're showing the original Carol now.
GOLD: Oh, there she is, yes.
KING: Who was she?
GOLD: Elizabeth Ward, Elizabeth Ward and she was the original Carol Seaver. And, we were in Chicago kind of vacationing and they were like, well can you -- my dad was going to come back early and they're like, "Well, can you take her back with you and she'll audition?" I'm like "I don't want to go back."
So, I finally ended up going back and I auditioned because I was like, well I'm not going to get it. They saw me. They didn't like me. But I went back and auditioned. I auditioned with Kirk. I went to network and it was a long process and then I eventually got it and I was really glad because I remember like reading about it in the paper and going, "That's one I would have liked to have done."
KING: Kirk, did you like it right away?
KIRK CAMERON: Yes, I did. I almost didn't get the part of Mike because I didn't want to go to the audition. I was 14 years old and I was wanting to hang out with my friends and play basketball, so I was dragging my feet. I was late for the audition, ran up, knocked on the door and said "Please let me in."
I did an audition and then I asked the producer "Now is this a comedy or what?" And he looked at John Pasquin, the director, and said "He's not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I think this could work," and came back and got the part.
KING: And, Alan, how did it come to you?
THICKE: I was just coming off one of the great failures in the history of talk shows, thanks for bringing it up, Larry, and that was "Thicke of the Night" and I was just so thrilled to -- I didn't care if the script was any good. I was just happy to have something to do for a week.
And, in fact, I was in doing what I had started my career doing and that was as a writer. I was in pitching a show to ABC and they were developing it. They liked the idea and they said, you know, "By the way, we have this other show that we haven't found a male lead for yet" and they could maybe like use an Alan Thicke type. And, I said, "Well, I happen to be available."
KING: You're a perfect Alan Thicke type.
THICKE: Otherwise, I was going to be driving the Zamboni for the Kings that year, so I was very happy to get the call. And I remember when I finally got the part bursting into tears in the parking lot and phoning my two young boys...
THICKE: ...instantly and basically feeling that now I'd be able to take care of them.
KING: You also write (INAUDIBLE) right?
THICKE: I do. In fact, I was admiring your tie which says, I believe, show me that smile again. That was so nice of you to wear that for us.
KING: I can't read it (INAUDIBLE). But you wrote the themes for "Diff'rent Strokes," "Facts of Life" and "Wheel of Fortune."
THICKE: I did, yes. Yes, I did.
KING: So you get money all the time.
THICKE: We get a little taste every time those things appear on Nick at Nite, yes.
KING: "Wheel of Fortune" you get every night right?
THICKE: No, no because I wrote the original theme that ran for eight years on NBC and then when it went into syndication Merv Griffin, who owns the show wanted to buy the rest of the Bahamas, he replaced my music with his own but I was privileged to be on that for several years.
KING: What was the most fun in doing it Joanna?
KERNS: I think getting to know all of -- all of these guys.
KING: It was a happy cast?
KERNS: It was a very happy cast and I think that tape nights and the rehearsal process were especially fun. All we did was laugh. We came to work and we laughed, especially the time that you showed up in your bathrobe because you locked yourself out supposedly.
KING: When was that?
THICKE: I showed up in my bathrobe a little while there. I lived very close to the studio and we had a wonderful schedule and a great relationship with our director and we would literally get calls saying "Can you be here in 20 minutes," so I might be on the tennis court or in the shower or whatever.
KERNS: He's not explaining it. He's not telling the story.
THICKE: And so, I showed up in a lot of different attire, some of which was completely accidental and none of it was fashionable.
KING: We will investigate what these wonderful folk are doing now and what their lives are like, the ups and downs of same with Kirk Cameron, Tracey Gold, Joanna Kerns, Jeremy Miller and Alan Thicke, the cast of "Growing Pains." And you can now get on DVD the first complete season of "Growing Pains." We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERNS: Jason, it's not that I don't think that you're a wonderful psychiatrist but you're just not a mother.
THICKE: Well that's fine with me because this girdle is killing me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THICKE: Look at this cake. This is...
CAMERON: The raging inferno.
MILLER: Blow out the candles.
CAMERON: Yes, burning up in here dad. THICKE: All right. I know what to wish for.
CAMERON: Not bad for an old geezer.
THICKE: Well, this didn't work. You're still here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Brad Pitt once guested on "Growing Pains" and so did Hilary Swank and former "Friends" star Matthew Perry and Heather Graham. Let's find out what they're all doing now.
I know that you had a problem, Tracey Gold. You left the show due to an eating disorder right?
GOLD: Yes. Well, I only missed like technically three episodes but it was towards the end of the run of the show and I had anorexia and it was very public, so it was -- became something I kind of think unwittingly became, you know, kind of the poster child for a while for anorexia.
And it's a cause that I really take into heart and I overcame it and, you know, kind of went through it publicly and so people have really responded to that and I've been -- you know you kind of wonder sometimes like why is this happening but I think that was one of those things where I was like it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
KING: Did they just write you out of the show?
GOLD: They wrote me out for three episodes. Carol went to Europe and then they -- I came back for the last episode of "Growing Pains" which was our finale and we knew it was. We knew it was our finale and so I came back and did that which was, you know, emotional to begin with because it was the last show and that was just for me so sad because they had been such a family.
KING: How did you beat anorexia?
GOLD: Lots of therapy and really just deciding that I didn't want to be sick anymore and finding out I wanted to have a great life.
KING: Kirk, what are you doing now?
CAMERON: Well, aside from raising six kids my oldest kid...
GOLD: You know it's a shocker (INAUDIBLE).
CAMERON: Yes, well you know I mean that's pretty much...
KING: You have six kids?
CAMERON: Six kids. My oldest is nine and the rest are eight, seven, six, four and two.
KING: How old are you?
CAMERON: I'm 35.
KING: You look like you were Bar Mitzvahed yesterday.
KING: So what do you do? Are you acting? What are you doing?
CAMERON: Yes, well let's see. Last year we finished "Left Behind, World at War." That's based on the Left Behind book series with Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye.
KING: Religious books.
CAMERON: Yes, kind of end of the world apocalyptic thrillers.
KING: You're very religious right?
CAMERON: No, I'm not religious. I'm a Christian but I'm not big on religion but I do produce a television program right now called "The Way of the Master" and that basically is -- it's a Christian reality program where we kind of unmask the -- the hypocrisy of a lot of modern religion that you see today.
And then we go out on the streets and confront people with what is it that you believe about stuff like heaven and hell and God and how to make peace with God? And then we talk with them about how they can find eternal life.
KING: What are you doing now Joanna?
KERNS: Well, I'm directing a lot of television these days. I just finished directing "ER." It will be on Thursday night. And, I don't know if you remember this, Larry, but...
KING: You directed me.
KERNS: ...I directed you on "Clubhouse" which was...
CAMERON: How did he do?
KERNS: He was great, two takes.
KING: I'll tell you something about her. We did an episode of "Clubhouse." The show didn't make it on CBC about baseball, a kid, clubhouse boy.
KING: It was a wonderful program. I really enjoyed it.
KERNS: I did too.
KING: And I had to take on Steinbrenner.
KERNS: Yes, you were fabulous.
KING: Or Steinbrenner kind of role.
KING: She was tough. Let me go already. Let's do it again. Let's do it again. Let's do it again.
CAMERON: Yes, she cracks the whip.
GOLD: She directed us in the "Growing Pains" reunion movie, so we know.
KING: And you don't act anymore?
KERNS: I act here and there but you have to commit so far out in advance when you're directing that you -- I'm kind of booked six months out, so it's hard.
KING: You were tough. What are you doing Jeremy?
MILLER: I'm still acting a little bit, working in China a lot right now.
MILLER: As a chef and an actor.
MILLER: Doing a couple movies out there. I'm kind of combining the two. My two passions in life are cooking and acting. I went to culinary school for a while and have started my own catering company and we're working on doing a cooking show out in China, trying to do kind of a reverse Martin Yem (ph) thing where I'm going out there and teaching western techniques and American style food to the Chinese people.
KING: Why China?
MILLER: "Growing Pains" has a large popularity out there and weird enough I have a very -- a large, large following out there, bigger than I ever could have expected anywhere else. They absolutely adored the show. We were one of only two shows that was on during the '80s in China. It was the only two American shows that were allowed.
MILLER: Yes, that were allowed to be in and people just adored us.
KING: You'd come on like the chefs that come on here on the food channel?
MILLER: That's what we're developing right now. It's not on yet but that's what we're developing.
KING: You don't speak -- do you speak Chinese? MILLER: No, very little. I'm picking up common phrases and...
KING: So how do they follow your recipes?
MILLER: We have translators as well as one of my assistants speaks fluent Mandarin and he kind of translates what we're doing as well.
KING: Are you going to live there for a while?
MILLER: We're thinking about it, thinking of going out there.
KING: Are you married?
MILLER: I'm engaged.
KING: Unbelievable. What are you doing Alan?
THICKE: I'm delivering Chinese food in Sherman Oaks, Larry. I act when Joanna calls and my production company is very active. I have shows at three networks and my second book coming out "How to Raise Kids who Won't Hate you" and I lecture a lot about family issues and health issues around the country. And, I also have a show running in Las Vegas called "Second Honeymoon" for a Soleil resort so I go there regularly and life is good.
KING: Have you been in China?
THICKE: I have and what he's saying is true. They only have two shows, American shows running at a time and when I was over there, I did a movie over there a couple of years ago and it was us and "Hunter."
We were not regarded as a comedy over there. We were a life lesson. I did -- I did press conferences and they would "And so if Mike didn't finish his homework, how severely would you punish him" and if Carol came home late one night -- and they were taking notes. It was a sociology course. They really -- we weren't funny at all there.
KING: Were you well known when you walked down the street?
THICKE: Yes, yes, yes, yes. It was high recognition, more than Seattle. We were very popular.
KING: Are you acting Tracey?
GOLD: Yes, I just finished a movie for Lifetime this past November called "Safe Harbor" so, yes. I love acting and so it's the only thing (INAUDIBLE) you know as a career that, you know, that it's good, so I couldn't do anything else.
KING: We'll take a break and come back. We're going to go to calls in a little while. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MILLER: Mike, what do you think you're doing?
CAMERON: I'm revolting.
MILLER: No argument there, Mike.
CAMERON: Why you little...
MILLER: I'm going to tell daddy you broke the window.
CAMERON: I'm going to tell dad you're a blackmailer you little gangster.
MILLER: Dad's going to ground you.
CAMERON: Well dad's going to ground you and spank you.
THICKE: Hold it right there you two. You boys look so cute. I got to take your picture.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THICKE: OK, are we ready? Now give me an S?
CAMERON AND MILLER: S.
THICKE: Give me an E.
CAMERON AND MILLER: E.
THICKE: Give me an A.
CAMERON AND MILLER: A.
THICKE: And a V.
CAMERON AND MILLER: V.
CAMERON AND MILLER: E.
THICKE: Give me an R.
CAMERON AND MILLER: R.
THICKE: What do you got?
CAMERON AND MILLER: Loser. (END VIDEO CLIP) KING: We're back with the cast of "Growing Pains." You can get the first complete season now available on DVD. We'll be going to calls at the bottom of the hour.
Leonardo DiCaprio worked on the show huh in the last year?
KERNS: Sure did.
CAMERON: That's right.
KING: Did you all recognize that this is quite a talent?
GOLD: Yes, I think so.
THICKE: Well there was nothing in a "Growing Pains" script that would exactly telegraph the chops that that guy had but I think we did recognize that he had a great sense of fun and a charisma and a personality. And, in fact, I don't think the world has seen that side of Leonardo.
KING: The fun side.
GOLD: His funny side.
THICKE: To the degree that we did, yes.
THICKE: He's remarkable.
GOLD: And charming.
KING: Yes, nice guy.
THICKE: And owes us everything I think we'd agree, no maybe.
KERNS: What, what, what, what?
THICKE: I said he owes us everything.
KERNS: He owes us everything. But he could imitate anyone. I mean inside of two minutes he could...
KING: How difficult, Joanna, was the last show to do the last show?
KERNS: Well I think it was very emotional. I mean we were really happy Tracey was back.
KERNS: It was very hard to get through it and I think that all these shows that have long runs where you form this bond and you realize you don't really know what's going to come next but you realize what you've had has been very, very special. And, I think that we all knew it as it was happening that this was a once in a lifetime kind of experience and it was -- we were moving on. It was sad.
GOLD: And I think for us at least, I mean it was so much a part of our childhood, I mean it was a huge chunk of our childhood, so to close "Growing Pains" was almost closing a huge part of...
KING: Of you?
GOLD: Yes, being a kid and just growing up and moving on, so that -- I think it was -- it was a big moment.
KING: Do you still get paid from it Jeremy?
MILLER: Still get some residuals from time to time.
KING: Is it still showing on (INAUDIBLE)?
THICKE: I think that it has been showing somewhere in the world every week in the 13 or 14 years that we've been off the air. I don't think the show has ever been off the air.
KERNS: No, I think...
KING: Why did it go off?
THICKE: Joanna was renegotiating. She just put the kibosh on the whole thing for all of us.
KING: Kirk, why do you think it went off?
CAMERON: Oh, boy. I remember the executives coming in and sitting us down and saying "Hey guys, you know, it's time for us to move on"...
KING: The suits.
CAMERON: Yes, the suits came in and they just kind of dropped the bomb. I think we were all wondering what was going to happen and writing staffs had changed toward the very end and we were on our seventh year of the show and so it was -- I think the writing was on the wall. We knew it but we couldn't do anything about it at that point.
KING: Was it time Alan?
THICKE: I think it was. I think that more adult-oriented shows, "Everybody Loves Raymond" for example, "Cheers," those kind of shows have more legs than a show that watches children grow up and then needs to let them go. You know the family, the true family shows with kids involved I think seven or eight years is the most you can hope for, whereas an adult cast can seem to go on forever. So, I think we peaked and we rode that puppy and we all benefited from it and loved it.
KERNS: I also think that the shows change. "Friends" happened and the shows kind of...
GOLD: And "Roseanne."
KERNS: Well, "Roseanne" but I mean, you know, there was "Home Improvement" and those shows that came after us but I think they went after a different audience in a way.
THICKE: I think what Nielsen research was telling us around that time was that by the early '90s all households had two televisions so they could now make shows for the kids and make separate shows for the adults. We were the last of a breed where the networks were making shows that the whole family truly could sit down and watch.
There was us and "Full House" and "Who's the Boss" and "Cosby," "Family Ties," and after those they started making shows for that bifurcated audience and maybe that's one of the reasons we've never been off the air because they literally aren't making those shows anymore.
KING: So, it couldn't work now you think?
THICKE: Maybe, I think if we replaced Jeremy.
MILLER: Thank you, Alan.
THICKE: No, I don't know. I'm sure it could in the hands of -- you know we were very fortunate. I think we all felt that the confluence of writing and casting and producing was really a blessing for us and it really seems to take all of those elements coming together in a fortuitous way that really makes a magical show.
THICKE: And I'm sure that could happen again.
KING: Do you miss it? Do you miss regular weekly television?
CAMERON: Do I miss working on regular weekly television?
CAMERON: I have to say that I don't -- I don't really miss working on it.
KING: You don't?
CAMERON: No. If I were to have a job that was going to, you know, where I was going to work every day for the entire year, I'd love to do a sitcom again because the schedule is great. It's great for family life and to do a family comedy, heck I think we could do it again. What do you say guys? KING: Tracey do you miss it?
GOLD: I love the sitcom life and the week in and week out and I like the predictability of knowing I'm going to see them every day and I liked that a lot and that's -- I did.
KERNS: I loved it. I loved it. It was a great time. I spend a lot of my time now going between different shows and what you find when you get to a show that has been on the air for a long time, like an "ER" where everybody has that job secured and everybody is really good at their job and comfortable and secure it makes the creative process, it kind of elevates it in a way.
KING: George Clooney said this week in "Time" magazine the toughest thing is to come in and direct a long-running show, like "ER."
KING: When they're all set in their ways and this director comes in and tells them "I want you to cry." It happened to Clooney and he said "I don't cry."
KERNS: I don't cry. Well, you know, I think coming from an acting background that's really helped me because I more than anyone know that an actor creates a character. You know they get the material. The writer creates the role on the page and then the actor takes it and makes it their own.
And a director is not going to be able to come in and tell you how to play that part. They're going to be able to kind of give you the tone in a scene and a pace in a scene and remind you where you've been and where you're going.
KING: Jeremy, would you like to do regular sitcom television?
MILLER: I think I would like to do it again but the problem there is we had such an amazing chemistry, such an amazing feeling on the set, even when you weren't working. As Joanna said earlier, all our brothers and sisters were there. Our sons, our daughters, everybody was around constantly.
That's rare. You don't see that very often today in sitcom television. You don't tend to have the same closeness. And I would, I think I would miss that, that's what I miss the most about the whole experience. I mean we had a second family completely.
KING: Alan, do you miss it? Would you go back?
THICKE: I don't know that I miss it only because it has led all of us to such wonderful other alternative additional experiences.
KING: But would you like to do a regular television show weekly?
THICKE: Yes, that was a blessing, working with people that you liked on a schedule that Kirk described, seven months a year.
KING: You would do that again?
THICKE: Absolutely, absolutely. It was the easiest, most fun, rewarding, yes absolutely.
GOLD: It didn't even feel like a job.
KERNS: It didn't.
GOLD: It felt like the weekend came and it's like I couldn't wait like for it to start again on Monday.
GOLD: Yes, I really did.
KING: It's the cast of "Growing Pains." When we come back you'll be able to talk to them. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERNS: Hi guys. Oh, honey, I got to run. I don't want people saying now that Maggie's a star reporter she's coming in late.
GOLD: Starts with a quick kiss to the people she calls her family, a hectic day in the typical pell-mell world of a great reporter begins.
KERNS: Oh, and Jason could you do that extra load of laundry if you get a chance?
GOLD: With petty thoughts of home behind her she heads off into the cruel, unknown that is the real world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MILLER: Jim Shepherd immediately announced that his prize (INAUDIBLE) would be put out to stud.
KERNS: Well, Ben, sometimes when a boy horse gets hurt, they use him to get lots and lots of girl horses pregnant.
THICKE: That's very good.
CAMERON: Ohh! Oh, my leg! (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The release of the first year of "Growing Pains," the complete first season on DVD. And by the way, there is a gag reel on here that includes outtakes when they used to crack up on the show.
My guests are Kirk Cameron, who played the prime-time teen idol Mike Seaver; Tracey Gold, who played Mike's sister Carol; Joanna Kerns, Carol's working mom Maggie Seaver; Jeremy Miller, Maggie's baby boy, Ben Seaver; and Alan Thicke, Ben's psychiatrist dad Dr. Jason Seaver.
To show how wrong critics can be, when this show debuted, one critic wrote: "We've seen it before done a hundred times, done a hundred times better. Why anyone at ABC or Warner Brothers Television would think that 'Growing Pains' can find any audience is another sorrowful mystery of television entertainment."
KERNS: We had one critic...
THICKE: That guy is now driving the Zamboni (INAUDIBLE).
KING: At the hockey game. That's right, at the Los Angeles Kings.
KING: All right, let's go to calls. New Brunswick, New Jersey, for the cast of "Growing Pains." Hello. Hello?
KING: Yes, go ahead.
CALLER: Hi. First, I wanted to start off and say my friend and I love the show, we love you guys, it's a great show. Secondly, I wanted to say that you dealt with a lot of controversial issues, such as drug use, for example. The episode when Mike went to the party with Eddie doing cocaine. I just wanted to know how ABC reacted to that, maybe how the public reacted to you dealing with some controversial issues, and maybe if it dealt with any issues close to home with you guys?
THICKE: I think that our writers and producers felt that it was important to take this platform that we had, this wonderful franchise watched by 25 million viewers every week, and say something occasionally. Not to ignore our mandate to make you laugh and to entertain, but to try to take that mandate on in a more substantial way from time to time. And I think they did it successfully. KING: Did ABC or Warners give you any problems with it, Joanna?
KERNS: No, no, I think they were very supportive of this. And I know when we did the episode about drunk driving with Matt, it was -- I know there was some question as to whether he should live or die, and our writers really -- Dan Guntzelman and Steve Marshall -- really wanted to send home a message that you can't drink and drive. And the network and the studio supported it.
KING: Jamestown, New York, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. My question is for Kirk. I'm calling from Lucille Ball's hometown. And I know that Kirk performed with Lucille Ball in a Bob Hope special just shortly before she passed away. I was wondering, Kirk, if you learned anything from Lucille while you were working with her, if you had any memories of that experience?
CAMERON: Wow. Yes, I do have great memories of that experience. I remember standing there -- I was holding the hands of people like Danny Thomas and some others, and not knowing exactly who they were. And I went to dinner with them afterward. I was this sort of a young kid who, you know, wasn't really aware of who all these old-timers were. And I went to dinner, and George Burns was there and Danny Thomas and Phyllis Diller. And I was here....
KING: And you worked with Lucille Ball?
CAMERON: Well, we did this special together, it was a Bob Hope special and a tribute to her. And I got to have dinner with these people.
KING: What was your role on the show?
CAMERON: Well, this was actually a tribute to Lucille Ball, and a Bob Hope special -- I think it was another project that we worked on, where we were -- did a little song and dance number, for some of the Army troops.
THICKE: You realize that Hilary Duff thinks you're an old-timer?
CAMERON: Yeah, I know.
KING: Grand Ledge, Michigan, hello.
CALLER: Hi, my question is for Tracey.
CALLER: I was just wondering how you kept your bulimia such a secret on the show and how it affected you and the cast members of the show.
GOLD: Well, first of all, it was anorexia, which is a little different. But I would say that I don't think I really kept it a good secret, because I think Joanna really picked it out right away and was really concerned. And we had such a close relationship.
And you know, I was pretty open about it. And, you know, people knew. And Joanna took some steps, I think, to make sure that, you know, I got the help that I needed. And everybody was really supportive. I think it was just -- it was kind of a different way to understand like, you know -- I think certain people didn't understand like what it really meant to have anorexia. And I think everybody learned pretty quickly as I got really sick.
But this group here was so supportive. And that time, I mean, I couldn't have gotten through it without all of their support.
KING: Well said. Yelm, Washington, hello.
CALLER: Hi. I have been a fan since the '80s, and I just wanted to say to you, Tracey and Joanna, I just adore them both. But my question is for Jeremy. I understand that you did some voice work for the "Peanuts" characters. Can you kind of fill us in on that?
MILLER: Yes, actually. It was -- I was the voice of Linus on "The Peanuts." We did "Happy New Year, Charlie Brown." We also did "Snoopy the Musical." And we did a set of tapes for a talking Snoopy doll. And it was a great time. We worked with a lot of different people.
KING: How did you find a voice for Linus?
MILLER: It was very similar to my own. I didn't really have to change a heck of a lot. And they used to tell me that I sounded a lot like the original; that was why they brought me in. They thought that my natural voice sounded very much like the first lady that they had had doing Linus.
KING: Had a lady do it?
KING: So you sound like a girl?
MILLER: Apparently, back then.
KING: We'll be right back with more of the cast of "Growing Pains." Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THICKE: Ready, set, Tito, Michael, Jermaine, hut!
KERNS: Hey, you guys really won't be happy until something gets broken, will you?
THICKE: Time out. I'm sorry, mother's right.
Hut, hut! (END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERNS: Can you give me one real reason why we shouldn't have another child?
THICKE: Wait here. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Joanna, you had something to do with Tracey's marriage?
KERNS: Well, actually...
KERNS: ... I did a miniseries based on a book called "Blind Faith" and it was about the Marshall family. And I played Maria Marshall and her son Roby was a consultant on the picture. And he's actually responsible for me getting the role, I think, because they said I want -- the boy said I want -- they said that they wanted me to play the mother. And I got the part. And on the set, I actually was -- Ashley, Freudian slip, that's my daughter Ashley. Tracey hadn't really dated yet.
KING: Since having the...
KERNS: No, ever. And I say Roby was there and I thought, "Well, this," -- actually, there was another actor there that I thought would be interested. And Roby kind of piped up and said, "Well I want to come to the show, I want to meet Tracey." And they met and they have been really together ever since.
KING: You married the first guy you dated?
GOLD: Yep, basically.
KING: That's a sitcom right there. Anyway. New Orleans, hello.
CALLER: Hi. I met you when you filming a reunion show in New Orleans and you were delightful. You were also very good neighbors. By the way the house you filmed in survived the storm.
GOLD: I wondered. I thought about that.
CALLER: Will you be filming another reunion movie and it will it be in New Orleans?
KING: What a great idea if you did.
KERNS: You know something, we need to bring work back to that area. And I know a lot of people are really working on doing that now. We had a great time in New Orleans.
THICKE: New Orleans was terrific for us. And I know that, excuse me, we tried contacting a number of the people that we had worked with right after Katrina to see if they were all right. And I only reached one out of 12 people that I was trying to find. So we hope they're well.
KING: You shot it in a house in New Orleans?
THICKE: Yes. We were all over town but primarily in one house.
KING: Might you go there again?
GOLD: We'd love to.
KERNS: A lot of the production companies that are in New Orleans have located temporarily and everyone wants to come back.
KING: Canton, Georgia, hello.
CALLER: Hey, how are you?
CALLER: Kirk, I want to let you know, Mike was my favorite character. And I heard you say earlier you have six kids already. And I was wondering, do you plan on expanding your family any more through adoption or is six your limit?
CAMERON: Well, that's a good question. We're sort of struggling through that right now at the moment. And adoption's a wonderful idea. And we actually have adopted four of our kids. And so we just have to wait and see.
KING: Why do you adopt and have kids? Why do you do both?
CAMERON: Well my wife is an adopted child herself and so that was very important to her. And I thought, there's a lot of kids out there who need to have a mom and a dad, I want to be a dad, she wants to be a mom, so it's a good fit.
So we decided to have our family that way. Then Chelsea asked me to fix the sink one day and I went to go fix the sink and there was a pregnancy test that said positive, whoops, here we go, I guess we're going to have a blended family here. And that happened twice.
KING: There's a great writer in Chicago once who said, "I have four children, two are adopted, I forget which two." Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, hello.
CALLER: Yes, for the entire cast, I was curious to know how their lives and careers have changed for the better or the worse since the show.
KING: Would you say better or worse since the show?
THICKE: Better. I think the show gave us all a platform, a launching pad for a lot of the things that we've all wanted to do since then. He wanted to cook Chinese food, and she wanted to direct.
KING: You're doing something you wanted to do?
MILLER: Absolutely. And I would not have had those chances and those opportunities if it hadn't been for the show. So It's only progressed from there.
KERNS: Same here.
GOLD: I didn't mean to cut you off.
KERNS: No, I mean, there's really...
GOLD: "Growing Pains" has given us so many opportunities, it's only just been a blessing. It's been amazing. Everything's been uphill.
KING: We'll be right back with more of the cast of "Growing Pains." Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THICKE: Your mother come back from her jog yet?
CAMERON: No, not yet.
THICKE: Thought I heard her voice.
CAMERON: No, dad, it wasn't her.
THICKE: Hey Mike, you know, there's no use in you and I discussing this karate thing anymore unless you're going to be straight with me. Now I still think there's a girl in this class.
CAMERON: No way, dad. All right, well maybe there is one girl. But we're talking flea collars and milk bones. This girl is the elephant girl.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THICKE: Glad you're all here.
GOLD: This better be good.
KERNS: Oh, it is. At least we hope you all think it is.
MILLER: Oh my God, you're going to have another baby.
THICKE: No. But your mom does have some exciting news she'd like to share with you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're finally getting a dog?
KERNS: No. We're moving.
CAMERON: We're what? GOLD: No way.
CAMERON: No kidding.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No dog?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was the last episode, and the people who keep score says we didn't find out if your life is better now.
CAMERON: Oh, thank you very much. Yeah, life is wonderful. It's great.
KING: I was going to guess that.
CAMERON: Well, it is. And I think that while you hear at times some actors being concerned that they've been typecast, we look back and say, this was the springboard that led to everything else that we've been able to do.
KING: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, hello.
CALLER: Hi, guys. I wanted to tell you, I loved your show. My brother and I watched every episode. So my question is, where's Chrissy?
KERNS: Chrissy wasn't in the first season, so she's not here tonight. But we -- Ashley Johnson is doing very well and has a nice feature career and a singing career too. And in the reunion show, she actually sang the theme song, gave it a whole new spin.
KING: She's not here because she's not on this...
KERNS: She's not in the first season.
GOLD: She wasn't even born, I think.
KERNS: She wasn't born until season four -- no, she wasn't...
KING: Ada, Oklahoma, hello.
CALLER: Yes, this question is for Tracey. And I would like to know if you do any work with the anorexia groups. And how is your child doing?
GOLD: Oh, I have three little boys, and they're wonderful, and they're beautiful. And 8, 6, and 21 months. And I do do work with the eating disorder. I go and I speak, I speak at colleges and high schools. And I also am just getting involved with an organization called NEDA. And it's something that has become a passion of mine. So I feel it's something close to my heart.
KING: In therapy, do you find out why you were anorexic? GOLD: Well, I don't think -- yeah, you do. I mean, you don't like ever find out like pinpoint the exact reason, like here's why. But you find out what sort of led you down that path, and what's part of your personality that made you more susceptible to it. And I kind of understood why I was more vulnerable to that than other people would be.
KING: Woodbridge, Virginia, hello.
CALLER: Hello. I just want to say that I just absolutely loved your show. I grew up watching you. And this question is for Kirk. I know -- or at least I think I understand that towards the end of the show, your religious beliefs didn't really mesh with the direction that the show was going in. Is that true? And how do you feel about what's being shown on TV now?
CAMERON: Oh. Well, great question. Yeah, when I was about 17 years old, I was kind of at the height of the success of "Growing Pains," kind of an exciting event happened. I was an atheist, who became absolutely convinced that God does exist. He saved me from hell and offered me eternal life, and I just couldn't ignore that. It ultimately became such a part of who I am that I wanted to do things and act differently, and not just say I was a Christian but act like one. And I think that the way I probably handled myself back then was a little less graceful than I would like to do that now. But ultimately, to me, it was a matter of just standing for what I thought was good for a family show.
KING: Did it cause any problems on the show?
CAMERON: Like I said, I think I was maybe a little cavalier in the way that I'd tried to live that out, when I thought I was right -- what I thought was right. But ultimately, you know, we've all grown up and matured and we've had conversations about that. And it's 15 years later, and I think that I'm -- I think I've been forgiven.
KING: Were you all mad at him?
THICKE: Mad's not the right word.
KERNS: I think any 17-year-old thinks they're right. You know what I mean? Remember when we were all 17. I think it was hard for us to -- to kind of at times be told how we should feel. And I think everybody -- I think that's what's so great about America, is we all have -- we can have our own belief system. And I think that was -- that was a little difficult. You know, so, but we love him.
KING: Let me get a break and come back with our remaining moments on this edition of "LARRY KING LIVE." Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THICKE: Hi, where have you been?
GOLD: Oh, I was up late studying.
KERNS: Do you have a test too?
THICKE: See, Mike could learn something from her.
GOLD: No, he couldn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: A couple of quick questions to go around. Jeremy, why Chinese food?
MILLER: Well, it's not just Chinese food. I absolutely -- I just love to cook. I always have. My grandmother was a cook. I grew up with her in the kitchen, with her -- following her around, working in her restaurant during the summers, that kind of thing.
Chinese food, there's been such an influence of Asian food and Asian techniques and ingredients in Western cooking now that I don't know, it's not so much that I want to specialize in that; I'm really trying to teach our ways back to...
KING: Do you cook with a wok?
MILLER: Yes, I use a wok, I use lots of different...
KING: Can Chinese food be healthy?
MILLER: Oh, Chinese food can be very, very healthy. Depending on the type of cuisine. You have four major cuisines of China, four different types. Cantonese is the one that sort of focuses the most on the purest ingredients, not so heavy on sauces and things like that. Just kind of bringing out the natural flavor.
KING: What's the worst?
MILLER: Well, not so much the worst...
KING: From a health standpoint.
MILLER: But health standpoint would probably be Szechuan food. Very spicy, which is good for you, but very oily.
KING: Alan, you looked at scenes here tonight and said you didn't remember them. Can you explain that?
THICKE: There are some -- first of all, 165 episodes, and the fact that it was an ensemble cast meant that you weren't necessarily in every scene, and you would go back to your trailer and check on the kids at home, or whatever other business you were operating at the time. And so -- look at her. (INAUDIBLE). Now that she's got the Sharon Stone look going for her here, she's just (INAUDIBLE).
KING: What did you whisper? There are no secrets!
KERNS: He was always -- Alan is the busiest man I've ever known, and really one of the most talented and creative. And he was always, he was producing a show. He was in the middle of a scene once, and he was writing something in the script in between when we were rehearsing, and I say, Alan, what are you doing? He says, I'm putting my furniture in my new house.
KING: On that note, appropriate that you would play a psychiatrist. Anyway, we thank all of them. Kirk Cameron, Tracey Gold, Joanna Kerns, Jeremy Miller and Alan Thicke, the cast of "Growing Pains." The first complete season is available on DVD.
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