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Anderson's art imitates life

HOLLYWOOD — Comic actor Anthony Anderson plays Anthony Anderson in the upcoming WB sitcom "All About the Andersons." And where the real Anthony Anderson ends and the fictional Anthony Anderson begins is not altogether clear.

"It's 92 percent true," Anderson said of the show.

Which is sort of interesting, given the premise of the sitcom. Anderson plays a struggling actor and single father of a young son (Damani Roberts). Anthony's TV father (John Amos) isn't exactly happy about his career choice, and in the premiere (8:30 p.m., Ch. 30), the elder Anderson doesn't want to let his son move back into the house. When he does, he wants him to give up his dreams of acting and join the family barbershop business.

And there are "a lot more things that we're going to work on and incorporate into the show," Anderson said.

Things like when his father took all the phone jacks out of the house and installed a pay phone in the family room. Or when he put a pay washer and dryer in the garage.

"He made me buy my own food. Then, once he realized that wasn't going to break me, he started putting padlocks on the refrigerator so I couldn't get to the food," Anderson said. (It happens in episode 2.) "All that's true. A lot of this stuff just comes from my life, and these are stories I just wanted to share with the viewing public because I think they're funny. I think they're thought-provoking if you got a daddy like that. And we're just going to have fun with it."

(The sitcom itself has it's moments, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to try to hit more on the comedy and less on the preachiness.)

Not that his real-life father's version of events is exactly the same as Anthony's.

"You know what's wild? My dad will deny everything on the television show with the exception of putting a pay phone in the house," Anderson said. "But my relationship has always been just great with my father. It was just when I returned home from college, it was just a tough-love thing. He didn't want to throw me out in the streets, but he wanted to show me how difficult it could be under his roof. But we have a wonderful relationship."

And his father is actually thrilled with Anderson's success. (In addition to the sitcom, he has starred or co-starred in movies like "Me Myself & Irene," "Barbershop," "Kangaroo Jack," "Exit Wounds" and "Malibu's Most Wanted.")

"My Dad's a good ol' country boy, and he's happy for his son's success. And he knows what the truth is, so that's why he doesn't have a problem with it. I think that that's his way of still thumbing his nose at it all by saying he didn't do it. I didn't have to have him sign off on anything because he knows what the reality is and he enjoys it. He enjoys having John Amos portray him. He loves that. He loves being able to turn the television on and sit back and be, 'Yeah, I did that to him.'"

EVE (Monday, 7:30 p.m., UPN/Ch. 24): One thing you've got to admire about Eve is her honesty. The hip-hop-artist-turned-sitcom-star knows how she made the transition from one to the other.

"Yes, it is a trend right now to have rappers and singers in movies," she said. "I think that, bottom line, it's a business. And I think people look at it like, 'You know what? They have this following. They have this audience. Let's make some money.' "

Which is not to say that Eve can't act. She's no Katharine Hepburn, but she's better than, say, Jerry Seinfeld or Roseanne or Tim Allen were when they started. Not that her show is as good as theirs. And it is on UPN, after all. It's on the same plane as, say, "Girlfriends" or "One on One."

Eve is at the center of a multiethnic "Friends" of sorts. She plays a fashion designer who leans on her girlfriends (Ali Landry and Natalie Desselle-Reid) while she's looking for love. Love that she finds in Monday's premiere, when she meets a guy (Jason George) she'll eventually fall in love with, get engaged to and marry — if the show lasts that long.

And, given UPN's relatively low ratings expectations, it just might be around long enough for all that to happen.


E-MAIL: pierce@desnews.com