HOLLYWOOD — Having kids has changed the way Mitch Rouse picks and chooses his projects.
“When I started out and it was just me, I did what I want. I went where I wanted. It didn’t matter,” says the 47-year-old actor/ writer /director originally from Oak Ridge. “Now with the kids and everything, you say, ‘Hey, you know what? I’ll go do this (project) or I’ll go do that. I’ll come home and save the money. My time with my kids is oh so special.”
Rouse can be seen next in ABC’s new sitcom “The Neighbors,” a family-friendly half-hour comedy about humans who unwittingly move into a gated community inhabited by stranded aliens from another planet.
Rouse plays a realtor who may or may not realize he’s part of their scheme.
“The Neighbors” will air this fall on WATE, Channel 6.
Producers cast Rouse in the role after he auditioned for another part in “The Neighbors.”
“I auditioned for the lead role,” says Rouse, but the producers were looking for New York-type, like a Kevin James (and that’s not Rouse at all).
When he didn’t get the role, the producers liked what they saw in Rouse and cast him as the realtor.
The family friendly half-hour comedy is just the right spot for Rouse these days. He and his wife, actress Andrea Bendewald, have two little children: Tennessee and Strummer.
“They don’t understand what I do for a living,” Rouse says with a laugh.
Rouse directed and wrote the movie “Employee of the Month,” which had Matt Dillon, Steve Zahn and Christina Applegate. He wrote “Without A Paddle,” which starred Seth Green and Dax Shepard. He also was the star of his own ABC sitcom, “Lost At Home,” about a stay-at-home dad. He had a recurring role as a fireman on the Comedy Central series “Reno 911!”
Rouse presently has a recurring role on ABC Family’s “Secret Life of an American Teenager.”
Rouse isn’t sure how his role on “The Neighbors” will be fleshed out. Currently he is only in the pilot episode, though ABC is promoting Rouse on its website in connection with the show.
Not all of his projects are family based. He just recorded a pilot for a new comedy set at a prison. He plays a man who was sent there for 30 days, but his stay keeps getting extended.
“It’s sort of a funny version of ‘Oz,’ ” he says with a laugh.
For it, he rented out an abandon prison for a few days. Once the episode is complete, Rouse plans to shop it around to see if any network or cable outlet shows interest.
His kids won’t mind what he’s doing for now.
“I tell my youngest that I make money to take everyone to Disney,” he says.
“He’s good with that.”
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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