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Kevin Chamberlin trades the real NYC for the sitcom version of that city in the Disney Channel's "Jessie"

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Kevin Chamberlin trades the real NYC for the sitcom version of that city in the Disney Channel's "Jessie"

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It's funny how life works out sometimes.

Take - for example - what just happened to Tony Award-nominee Kevin Chamberlin. After spending two years playing Uncle Fester in the "Addams Family" musical (more importantly, after a particularly brutal winter in NYC), Kevin longed for a change of scenery.


(L to R) Kevin Chamberlin, Terrance Mann and Nathan Lane in "THE
ADDAMS FAMILY." Photo by Joan Marcus

"New York is a great city, especially when you're young. But I'm almost 50 now. And when you're doing 8 shows a week, week in and week out, you can burned out after a while," Chamberlin explained. "So after last winter, which was awful, I decided to take a break from Broadway for a while and see what the West Coast had to offer."

Well, what the West Coast offered was "Jessie," which premieres on the Disney Channel this Friday night at 9 p.m. / 8 p.m. Central. Now where this gets kind of ironic is that Kevin traveled 3000 miles to try & escape the Big Apple, only to then wind up working on a sitcom which is set in that same city.

"Wait. It gets better," Chamberlin laughed. "The soundstage that we shoot 'Jessie' on is the exact same one where they shot the "Addams Family" TV series back in the 1960s. For all I know, my dressing room is the exact same one that Jackie Coogan used. It's funny sometimes how - the harder you try and get away from something - the more it winds up popping back up in your life."

Not that Kevin's complaining, mind you. He absolutely loves the character that he plays in "Jessie."


Kevin Chamberlin stars as Bertram the Butler on the
Disney Channel's "Jessie." Photo by Craig Sjodin
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

" I'm Bertam, the snide cynical butler in the Ross household," Chamberlin said. "My character comes from a long line of funny TV butlers. Mr. Belvedere, Mr. French from 'Family Affair,' Daniel Davis' character in 'The Nanny.' In fact, the creator of 'Jessie' - Pamela Eells O'Connell - actually worked as a producer on 'The Nanny.' So we've got a lot of television pros working on this program."

Mind you, the person at the very center of this sitcom - Debby Ryan - is relatively new to show business. But Kevin has nothing but praise for his 18 year-old co-star.


Kevin Chamberlin and Debby Ryan in the premiere episode of the Disney Channel's
"Jessie," "New York, New Nanny." Photo by Ron Tom. Copyright Disney
Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"I've worked on a number of TV series before 'Jessie.' Shows where all the cast seemed to do is complain about how bored they were, how bad the working conditions were, how these actors all wished they were somewhere else," Chamberlin stated. "That's what so great about Debby. She sets the tone for 'Jessie.' She's really happy to be here. She genuinely likes coming into work. She's always looking for new ways to make this show better. And that positive attitude, that upbeat tone trickles down to everyone else on working on 'Jessie.' "

Well, maybe not everyone. Kevin had a few choice words for the 7 foot-long water monitor lizard who plays Mr. Kipling, Ravi Ross (who's played by Karan Brar)'s rather unusual house pet.


(L to R) Kevin Chamberlin, Skai Jackson, Cameron Boyce, Debby Ryan, Peyton
List and Karan Brar. Photo by Craig Sjodin. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

"That lizard can be kind of a diva sometimes. He actually has his own trailer. Which - some days - he refuses to come out of," Chamberlin admitted. "I have to admit that - at first - I was kind of leery about performing with an animal this size. But it turns out that the lizard is really easy to work with. Which is good, because Bertram and Mr. Kipling have a lot of scenes together. We just shot a show where the two of them watch movies together. It turns out that Mr. Kipling really likes Godzilla movies."

Now you might think - after spending two years sharing the spotlight with Nathan Lane & Beebe Neuwirth on Broadway - Kevin might see playing the adult protagonist on a Disney Channel program as kind as a come-down. But that's where you'd be wrong.


Kevin Chamberlin and Chris Galya on the set of the Disney Channel's
newest sitcom, "Jessie." Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

"I love working on 'Jessie.' We've only shot ten episodes so far. But I've already had the opportunity to work with TV legends like Jo Anne Worley and Ronnie Schell. Plus next week, they're actually letting me direct an episode of 'Jessie.' I mean, how cool is that?," Chamberlin said.

"So how has Kevin been getting ready for his directorial debut?," you ask. Though he only just got a copy of the script for next week's show, Chamberlin has been prepping for a few weeks now by watching old episodes of "I Love Lucy" and then calling out the camera shots.


The set of "I Love Lucy" circa 1952

"That's another cool thing about working on 'Jessie.' This soundstage is the exact same one where they shot the first two seasons of 'I Love Lucy.' I just love the idea that I'm now throwing myself onto crash pads in the exact same studio where Lucille Ball used to do slapstick," Kevin enthused.

And what about Broadway? Does Chamberlin ever see himself returning to the stage?


(L to R) Kevin Chamberlin, Cameron Boyce and Karan Brar. Photo by Craig Slodin.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"Maybe when I'm 60. Right now, I'm just enjoying working on 'Jessie.' Which - given that Disney jumped its first season order for this show from 6 episodes to 20 episodes - I may be doing for a while," Kevin concluded.

"Jessie" premieres on the Disney Channel tomorrow at 9 p.m. / 8 p.m. Central.

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  • Hi The Cast Of Jessie I'm A Big Fan I Hope your Doing Great. I Wished That I'd Get To Be On The Cast  With You But I Don't Know How To sign In.Because I Think Hanging On The Cast With You Would Be So Much Fun. Now I Got To Go I Have School Tomorrow Fresh Day Tomorrow In 4th Grade.Tomorrow I Get To Preform A Concert For The Whole School I'm Kind Of Nervous But I'm Still Proud Of Myself For Stepping Up And Not Give Up.I Can't Wait to Preform For The Whole School About Veterans That Help Us Survive And For Saving America I'm Singing For The  Whole School In Housten,Texas Okay Goodnight.

                                                                                                     Love,Sophia*

  • love jessie

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