When ABC abruptly canceled his hit sitcom “Last Man Standing,” Tim Allen took to Twitter to voice his shock: “Stunned and blindsided by the network I called home for the last six years.”
“It tore me up,” recalled Allen, his voice still raw with emotion months later. “Every aspect of (that show), everything about it, I loved. I was grateful every day.”
Allen, 64, is best known to audiences as cocky everyman Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor on hit ABC sitcom “Home Improvement.” (He’s also the affable star of “The Santa Clause” movies and the “Toy Story” franchise.)
But ABC’s “Last Man Standing” — about a tradition-minded marketing director at a chain of sporting goods stores who occassionally clashes with his wife and three daughters — pushed Allen’s popular on-screen persona as a red-blooded American male obsessed with sports, cars and powertools even further.
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“Essentially, Mike Baxter was Archie Bunker with a college education,” Allen explained, a funny family man with conservative, Christian values.
When ABC dropped “Last Man Standing” in May after six seasons despite strong ratings, some suspected politics played a part.
“Last Man Standing (sic) is one of the only shows on broadcast television ... that is not constantly shoving liberal ideals down the throats of the viewers. And sadly, that is likely the real reason the show has been cancelled,” wrote the author of a Change.org petition calling for the network to renew the sitcom. (Although the petition has garnered more than 410,000 supporters, ABC, NBC and CMT have all passed on picking up the show.)
Allen, who brought his stand-up act to Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez in September, recently chatted with The Tribune about the show, politics and President Donald Trump.
Q: Why did the cancellation of “Last Man Standing” come as such a shock?
A: This news was right in the middle of us reupping everybody because it was the strongest year we’ve had. We had a full tank of scripts. ... They told us quite late in the game. They waited till the last minute.
(The timing) seemed mean. It probably wasn’t, but it just felt mean. It gave anybody on my staff little or no time to find another job. It gave me little or no time to book (other gigs) ... I think they could have told us earlier. They could have told us, “This will be your last year, so let’s wrap it up.” A sudden death like this was a little hard to take, a little hard to process.
Q: Do you think politics played a role in the decision to cancel “Last Man Standing”?
A: There’s no way that you’d ever get anybody who made the decision to cop to that. It’s all conjecture. ... I can tell you that everything about this television show (that), from my point of view, was important to the television network that had it, they dismissed.
The fan base, they dismissed. The fact that it showed great diversity of thought and entertainment, they dismissed. That didn’t seem to matter. ... I think they made a terrible mistake with a very creative project. It could have done so many things.
Q: Why do you feel fans really connected with the show?
A: We treated religion with respect. We treated the family with respect ...
People go to church, you know, and we did church stuff. We did stuff about sitting down and having a meal as a family. But we didn’t make a (big) deal about it. ... We tried to respect and honor some values that seem to be beleaguered.
Q: Do you feel there’s a segment of the American population that Hollywood has ignored or forgotten?
A: I know they ignore them! Just watch what’s on TV. Look at the crop of television shows coming out and tell me who they’re trying to interest. It’s a very small group that thinks it knows what’s best for the rest of us. ...
There’s a huge fan base of people out there that don’t need to have opinions shoved down their throat. They have their own opinions ...
In “Last Man Standing,” the opinions were asked for and discussed — but the whole level of the way the family lived was not an opinion. It was just respectful of a basic perspective – eating, drinking, living. The couple loved each other. They weren’t bickering all the time.
(The show) wasn’t constantly trying to have the small segments of the world dictate what the big segments are thinking.
Q: Do you see yourself as a voice for that ignored segment of the population?
A: No. I’m more of an anarchist. I don’t like people telling me what to do, what to think, or how to behave.
Q: You were at President Donald Trump’s inauguration. How do you think he’s doing so far?
A: My report card is incomplete. ... There’s been a constant flood of (people) keeping this guy from doing his job. That is something I feel bad about. People want to crash the plane even though we’re all on it.
(I want to say) “Give the guy a chance to do the job before you condemn the job he’s doing.”
Q: What part of Trump’s presidency have you been pleased with or disappointed by so far?
A: I’m disappointed he hasn’t gotten to infrastructure. ... We’ve got terrible roads in Los Angeles, terrible infrastructure problems. That’s all I’m concerned about. Let’s fix the basic, fundamental part of our country so our roads are better, our sewers are better, our communication system is better.
That’s where we have a missed opportunity with (Trump). ... Whatever you think about his hair, his suits, whatever, think of the asset you have in this guy as a builder. You put him on that and you support him, this guy could kick ass and make it happen. ...
That’s my biggest disappointment, is that people have not realized the potential ally and the potential resource you have in this dude, to put him on a job that he’s very well equipped to do.
Q: You’ve said that being a conservative in Hollywood is like living in 1930s Germany. What do you mean?
A: It’s all about feeling that pressure that you can’t have an opinion that’s different. ...
I don’t agree with groupthink that (Trump) is horrible. I can hear it all day long but, if you ask me, no, I don’t think that he hates women or gay people. I don’t sense any of that. (I’m told) “Well, then you’re an idiot.” Well, then, I’m an idiot ...
I’m not the spokesman for the president. I’m not the spokesman for the alternate party. (But) I don’t like being bullied and I don’t care who’s doing it. I don’t like being in a defensive posture because my opinion isn’t what you want (to hear).