One of my dearest Hollywood friends is former Beach Boys & Jessie and the Rippers drummer, John Stamos. Mr.John, as I call him is one of the most well known and respected actors of my generation. He is known famously for playing Uncle Jessie Gadzapalous on the award winning TV comedy "Full House". The show is considered a rare bread amongst situation comedies. It stands side by side with "All In The Family", "MASH", and "I Love Lucy" as one of the greatest, the most socially responsible program that ruled with a iron first, teaching virtue and morality while it showed an unusual family structure. The show was criticized by some politicians for being too real' and striking too close to the heart of both the hopes and dreams of the American people.
Full House was a torch of light in an otherwise dark time. It stood above the pack of 90's sitcoms, and crushed silly trite fair such as 'Rosanne' under the steel toed motorcycle boot of Uncle Jessie, the fine gilled comedy blade of [my friend] David Coulier as Joey Gladstone, and the calm comedic timing of two young ladies who have gone on to destroy the world with their beauty, talent, and voluptuous curves, Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen. The show was like a fine port waiting in a cedar barrel for years, and I was like the first man to taste said port, while naked in a hot tub on the top of an Aspen mountain. Yes, my friends, this was the life.
I sat down with my friend John Stamos outside of a coffee shop on Sunset Blvd in la la. Thats right, la la. He was wearing a sleeveless t, showing his rockin biceps and his tangle of wavy hair dangled over his shoulders. He was in costume for a day of shooting a remake of "Full House" a project that is dear to his heart.
TROY : So, John. Lookin' good bro. You must have been hitting that gym hard to get in shape.
JOHN: yeah, I have been. Uncle Jessie was known for being a hunk on the original. I'm taking i tin another direction, a kind of Rocky thing.
TROY: really? That sounds interesting.....and risky.
JOHN: Indeed. I feel that Uncle Jessie has lived his life on the edge, and after getting married and having the twins, he felt disgusted inside. He would have been disgustd by his wife and kids on a level that I cannot even imagine. The producers kept our hands tied, but now that I own the rights to the show, I'm going to get it right on some levels I couldn't get it right on back then....
TROY : really? That sounds interesting....
JOHN: Yes. See, I don't want to give too much away..
TROY: Don't even go there, John. I came all the way out to LA for this. Heheh
JOHN: Okay, a little tid bit. See, Uncle Jessie moved to Tibet. After the original show went off the air, I imagined that Uncle Jessie moved to Tibet and became a monk. See, he was so into music, but so much deeper, so much more involved on a psycological level. Uncle Jessie craved knowledge, and spirituality.
TROY: So, he's a monk now?
JOHN : He rocks in a Band Of Monks called "CHROME DOME"! Yeah, he went down there, but the music got the best of him, so he turned them onto his vibe! Now they're playing Louie Louie and Wipeout on the mountain peaks. See, Uncle Jessie is that kind of guy...
TROY: Thats amazing! Did your TV family go with?
JOHN: Yeah, well... Basically, we retconed them out. Not really removed them, but there is a story that Uncle Jessie tells where he describes leaving them stranded in Tibet as a joke, then he sells the kids on ebay. Kind of a funny twist! He ends up buying a killer set of drums with the proceeds and starting a tour with the CHROME DOMES in the US. It's so out of their element and their cultural world! Uncle Jessie has to teach them, show them how to eat a hot dog, how to wear pants -- he teaches them. It's a kind of 'fish out of water' thing.
TROY: Wow. I would have never seen that coming. Have you been writing this since you left? I know you have done some amazing work on ER and other stuff as well, but Full House was the pinnacle, I would have to say....the show was...
JOHN: ...The show was amazing. It was so much more than some critics thought. I mean, don't get me wrong, it was critically acclaimed back then, and award winning...but, I always knew I could do so much more with the concept. The only thing people remember about the 90's was Full House and Rockapella. I think there is something so rich in that nostalgia. See, It wasn't just me. Bob [Sagat] had envisioned throwing some "Cock Humor" into the mix, but ABC was so opposed to it.
TROY: Bob is a dirty comic on stage, but on the show...
JOHN: On the show he played it straight, and safe. He wasn't the bad boy on the show, David [Coulier] wasn't either -- he was the bafoon. If anyone was going to have edge on the show it was to be me, or I would have walked to fucking fast your head would have spun....
TROY: Oh. I'm sorry, I didn't see that one coming. I was just saying the show was really inspirational...
JOHN: I remember when Bob told me to fuck off back then. He wrote a script called 'Daddy Pottie Pants' wherein he gets the flu and goes #2 in his pants. We ALL see it, and of course make fun of him relentlessly. I teach the girls how to say 'day gwoss' and they keep pointing at him, and laughing, chiding him. It was dark and moody, it was the kind of story he should have written for me . I was SO ready to walk. I got right up in his face and said Uncle Jessie should shit his pants, and Uncle Jessie should get teased, Uncle Jessie should commit suicide...Sagat wanted his character to be dark, go Full Meta Jacket, but I knew it was wrong, and deep down so did he. Anyway, I got up in his face and called him a jerk, he told me to fuck off...thats all. I was so done...
TROY: So what happened? Is this why the show ended?
JOHN: Hey fuck you pal...
TROY: John, wait. I'm sorry -- what did I say?
JOHN: The show didn't end, and it hasn't ended. Just because it went off the air doesn't mean it's over. Tell the fan base that it's over, tell the syndicators.....
TROY: Cool down, my friend. Cool down! Please, have a seat. Your starting to sweat...
JOHN: Yeah, thats Uncle Jessies blood -- sweat, under my pits, under my legs on a hot summer day. I sit on my throne of drumming and play solos and fills, and I hit the cymbals. I smash them with my sticks, and I do it as Uncle Jessie for the fans of the fucking show that I made happen.
TROY: I'm sorry bud. I'm sorry. Can we talk about more about the remake...?
I had to cool my jets, and so did John. We talked sports a bit, and said hello to some ladies who came over to get his autograph [and mine]. I realized that he wasn't quite the same man who struggled against his Fathers desire for him to become a Plumber, or his mother who told him he was 'worthless' in Season 4. He was just John, just Uncle Jessie. He defined what a Ripper was is and will be for many generations. We ordered Lattes and started talking again about the pilot.
PART 2 :
We got back, we got calm. John told me he learned a technique during his stay in Tibet. He sat there , and just listened, he breathed his oxygen and then exhaled his worries. Full House was more than a show to him, it was a way of life, THE way of life. As one of the most well respected actors of this generation, it was a fine line that seperated Stamos from Tom Cruise or Paul Newman. All three had incredible acting chops and have been coveted for high profile film roles. Uncle Jessie saw, in Full House, a vehicle toward the ultimate reconstruction of society in a new light.
TROY: Tell me of the others, what happened to them?
JOHN: Well. I wanted to please the fans, and bring some of the more obscure characters into the mix. The opening scene features Kimmy Gibler in jail, for prostitution. She drags on a cigarette and looks at the camera.
TROY: Breaking the fourth wall? I've done it.
JOHN: Yes, very Avante' Garde. This isn't your fathers Full House. I knew back then that the audience that loved Full House, that made it a hit, had a deep wanting for eurocentric art film sensibilities, and deep complicated scared personalities. Gibler, we learn, was a prostitute, but she only did it because of father issues. Thats when we re-introduce Bobs character...
TROY: Interesting, but risky?
JOHN: Yeah, but not really. Bob's character was fired as the head of the Wake Up San Francisco show and he was replaced by a younger, more able minded reporter. His OWN DAUGHTER. Thats right, this causes a huge rift in the family that threatens the entire sanctity of the future.
TROY: What about my good friend David, what of Joey Gladstone?
JOHN: Ah. Yes, Mr.Gladstone. David's a good guy, I guess. Well, I talked to him the other day, and he told me he wanted to do something really amazing, something straight out of the silent era. He wanted to portray Charlie Chaplin with a style that others could not reach. I mean, Robert Downey Jr is okay, but he can't touch what David can do, just from a vaudvillian point of view.
TROY: What, I can just imagine. Will he be dressed like Charles Chaplin, or will he be in a guise? He is so good at other things too, like portraying Popeye. God, that is one of my favorite impersonations.
JOHN: He does a bang up Bullwinkle too, and we've got that in the script! The middle somewhere, when Uncle Jessie is being summoned from Tibet, and the girls [Mary Kate & Ashley] are trying to find their way to the reunion, David comes out dressed as the moose and just starts riffing. I told him "do your thing, bro" and he did.
TROY: I have to say, that really does something for my loins.
JOHN: Well, there is more to that story, Troy. I think David wanted to try and get more control, more minutes in the film. You wouldn't believe what they asked for, what was on his rider. He wanted so much. I mean, he was okay back then, they asked him to host Americas Funniest People because Bob pretty much wanted to take me out of the picture. I was so much more attractive than them both, there was jealously for sure....and rage.
[PART III COMING SOON]