TCA Press Tour: Getting schooled by Tony Danza
Yes, we said students.
For the teenagers at Northeast High School, Danza -- actually, it’s “Mr. D” -- was their teacher. And he thinks Snooki and her bronzed pals make it hard for teachers.
That show is telling kids that “bad behavior pays off,” he said.
But enough about Snooki and the gang. Time for a different kind of reality. In A&E’s new series “Teach: Tony Danza,” the actor and Broadway star (and cookbook author?) ditches the entertainment scene to take on the role of a 10th-grade English teacher at the Philadelphia school.
The show chronicles Danza’s yearlong struggle to teach not only the curriculum of two back-to-back 45 minute periods, but life lessons.
“It’s not the teaching; I mean the teaching’s hard,” Danza said during the TCA press tour. “But the really hard thing is the counseling. You spend a lot of time being father, mother, brother, sister, psychologist..."
Danza’s foray into the reality world wasn’t, he said, an attempt to jump-start his career; rather, he saw it as an opportunity to try something new during a slow period. (It should be noted that in the midst of shooting, Danza was offered Kelsey Grammer’s role in "La Cage Aux Folles," which he turned down to remain committed to the project).
And his star status didn’t make him immune to any work: He went through weeks of training at the school district, tours of the city, workshops, etc., said Linda Carroll, the school’s principal.
Not that that helped ease Danza’s biggest fear.
“Your intellect is on display,” he said. “It’s nerve-racking.”
But, hey, Tony, are they really paying attention to your intellect? During the session, Danza informed the members of the press just how skillful teenagers are with their phones -- they can text even when their phones are in their pocket!
“They can look right at you and they’re texting. It’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen!”
Photo: Tony Danza. Credit: Associated Press