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Smallville actor travels to other neighborhoods

Monday, December 22, 2003

By Dave Mason, Scripps Howard News Service

Kids, you can never go down the drain.

That's the promise John Schneider made as he sang lighthearted and heart-warming songs from "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" during a tribute to the late Fred Rogers earlier this month.

Afterward, a small crowd of fans asked for his autograph and praised his vocals. That led Schneider to joke about the possibility of a new musical.

"Maybe I should do 'The Dukes of Smallville,' " he said.

He certainly has gotten more than enough experience these past couple of months, after singing in CBS' 75th anniversary special, then the 26th annual Kennedy Center Honors and now the Mister Rogers tribute.

In the Rogers' tribute, he shared the stage with Tyne Daly ("Judging Amy"), Jean Louisa Kelly (CBS' "Yes Dear"), Scott Bakula ("Star Trek: Enterprise") and the Southern California-based Kids Karousel. It was part of the academy's three-hour, star-studded tribute to Rogers, who for 38 years on PBS told kids they're great just the way they are.

"He [Rogers] affects you in ways you don't realize until you're over 40 and looking back," Schneider said.

Two nights earlier he had been in Washington, D.C., performing for the annual Kennedy Centers Honors. In a tribute to Carol Burnett, Schneider, Bakula, Elaine Stritch, Kim Cattrall, Florence Henderson, Tim Conway and Bernadette Peters walked on the stage wearing costumes from "The Carol Burnett Show."

They sang a musical tribute during the taped special, which will air Dec. 26 on CBS.

Schneider, who became famous for playing Bo Duke in "The Dukes of Hazzard" and still keeps that car, the General Lee, in his garage, is in his third season playing Jonathan Kent, Clark's dad, on "Smallville." The "Superman" prequel continues to be The WB's second-highest rated show, after "7th Heaven."

But Schneider said he hopes "Smallville" can improve creatively. "I hope my character on 'Smallville' takes a turn back to being the proactive parent he was in the first season instead of the reactive one he has become."

He didn't elaborate, but Jonathan Kent has been at the mercy of events around him. In one episode, Jonathan and his wife, Martha (Annette O'Toole), were bound and gagged by crime lord Morgan Edge. In another story, Clark (Tom Welling) helped a possibly deranged Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) but didn't tell Jonathan.

Filming on the Vancouver, British Columbia-based series will resume Jan. 5.

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