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Life with Derek aired from September 2005 until March 2009 on The Disney Channel.
Two bossy, type A teens wound up fighting to be number one in the same household in this blended-family sitcom. Easygoing legal aid lawyer George ( John Ralston) and sensible businesswoman Nora ( Joy Tanner) had both been divorced, and when they married and brought their five kids together under one roof sparks began to fly. Derek ( Michael Seater) was a classic operator, always with a scheme, always getting what he wanted at home and school and used to bossing around his younger siblings, impressionable Edwin ( Daniel Magder) and cute little Marti ( Ariel Waller). Casey ( Ashley Leggat), Nora's oldest, was hyperorganized, followed all the rules ( someone called her " 15 going on 50") and was used to having younger sib Lizzie ( Jordan Tudosey) do her bidding. Derek and Casey squabbled constantly in the family's big suburban house, she trying to get him to be more responsible and he trying to get her to loosen up. By most accounts it was a draw.
An Article from The North Shore News
Stars of Life with Derek hang on for the hit TV series ride
Rosalind Duane, North Shore News
Published: Friday, July 20, 2007
Showing real-life shades of his slacker dude character on Life With Derek, actor Michael Seater proudly reports that he has taught his 18-month-old niece how to say "Rock!"
Calling from his home in Toronto, Seater explains that his niece is visiting from Australia along with other family members who are in town for his brother's upcoming wedding.
Not far from where Seater lives, his co-star Ashley Leggat is lounging by a pool in her hometown of Hamilton. When I call her she tells me she is helping her friend's dog learn how to swim.
Ashley Leggat and Michael Seater clash on screen in the Family Channel hit Life With Derek, but are good friends off screen.
Enjoying family and pets, Seater and Leggat are perhaps not experiencing the glam-life trappings other young celebrities seem to be caught in, but both say they are just glad to have some time off to enjoy the summer.
"This is my first summer off in about seven years and I'm just so excited. Lying by the pool everyday and working on my tan, I love it," says Leggat.
Having just wrapped on a Lifetime movie shot in Virginia a couple of weeks ago, Seater is also looking forward to a break.
"(I) definitely just want to hang out for the rest of the summer while I've got this tiny little cherub of a niece here," he says.
Continuously clashing as bickering step-siblings on Life With Derek, Seater and Leggat deserve a break after helping lead the show to the head of the Family Channel pack.
The first episode, which aired in March 2005, was the highest-rated series premiere ever on Family. The show is now also on the Disney Channel and has continued to rise in popularity with young audiences. This September will see the premiere of the show's third season on Family, as cast and crew start shooting the fourth season at the same time.
"It's been kind of wild. The show has just taken off," says Seater, who adds he is "always happy to do more of something so good," about shooting the fourth season.
Both Seater and Leggat say the show's appeal comes from the range of characters and themes presented.
Life With Derek tells the story of a blended family who move in together after the parents marry. The oldest of the five new siblings are Casey MacDonald (Leggat) and Derek Venturi (Seater) -- polar opposites.
"I just think it has something for everyone to relate to," says Leggat, noting that many family-oriented shows are geared toward younger kids, but Life With Derek also appeals to older teens.
"It's not too concept-heavy," adds Seater. "It's about a family and it's about a blended family, which I think is something a lot of kids and parents out there relate to. And so for them to be able to see it as something normal on television I think it's something really easy for the whole family to connect to. And we have a really good creative team who've made a really funny show."
Although they play 15-year-olds on the show, off screen Leggat is 21 and Seater is 20.
How does it feel to go back to high school each season?
"It's actually fun. I loved high school so I get to go back every year. It's sweet," says Leggat.
Both say because they were 16 when they shot the first season, it's easy to reconnect to that time when they have to get back into character. It's also easy for the duo to fight onscreen because they are good friends off screen.
"It's great that we can take out all our frustrations on each other as Casey and Derek, and as Michael and Ashley we're just the happiest best friends ever," says Leggat with a laugh. "He is actually like my brother. We're like an old married couple. It's funny."
"We're really close in real life, which gives us the ability to just go at it and go crazy on each other on screen, and it's totally awesome to be that comfortable with someone that you're not afraid to just go berserk and not worry about what they're going to think or how they're going to react because you know they're going to give you just as much."
Leggat laughs as she recounts how the two recently discovered they had worked together about six years ago on a show called The Zack Files. Leggat had guest starred on the show as a girl who was interested in Seater's character, but neither had remembered until Seater saw the episode recently and recognized Leggat on the show with him.
Both young actors note that they don't share too many qualities with the characters they play. Leggat, who plays a hyper-organized klutz on the show, is actually a trained dancer in real life and admits she's not that organized.
After being typecast the past few years as the popular mean girl in many projects, including Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen starring Lindsey Lohan, Leggat says she was excited to take on the challenge of such a different role -- and to try her hand at comedy.
"I walked on the set and that was my training," she says of learning to be funny. "With Casey it's easy to do more physical comedy with her because she falls a lot and she's kind of klutzy, so I actually love it now. Now I'm in a whole comedic phase where drama doesn't sound as fun to me."
The character of Derek is also somewhat of a departure for Seater who in his last two TV series, including the popular Strange Days, has played nerdy types.
"I like his confidence and if he wants to go after something he goes after it. He finds the laziest approach but he goes after it," he says of his character.
Seater tried on yet another new hat when he and his brother wrote an episode of Life With Derek that will air during the third season. He explains that the process of getting a script through the phases of production, including network approval, was complicated but the cast responded well to the final script.
"It was like learning on our feet. We were doing a job but also learning how to do the job," he says. "I've always wanted to direct. That's a hard thing to get into and in a lot of ways writing is a good way to get into that side of the industry."
Seater and his brother are slated to write another episode for season four.
"It has really made me realize it's a possibility so I've started writing a lot more and I'm working with a production company trying to work on producing my own series now," he notes.
Leggat admits she's not too creative when it comes to writing so won't be putting pen to paper any time soon, but she would like to continue taking risks and trying new things with her career.
"I always kind of wanted to be on CSI. I'm kind of addicted to that show right now. I've never gotten to die in something and I know that's a little gruesome but I just think it would be really fun -- I'd make it as dramatic as possible."
Life With Derek airs on Family Channel Fridays at 6:30 p.m.
An Article from CBC News
Blended family sitcom Life with Derek takes kids TV prize
Last Updated: Thursday, May 1, 2008 | 9:56 AM ET
Life with Derek, a sitcom revolving around two head-butting teens in a blended family, has won the Shaw Rocket Prize, which honours Canadian children's TV programming.
The half-hour comedy took the top prize at a ceremony in Toronto Wednesday night.
Though an international panel of TV industry representatives selects each year's nominees, Canadian students vote for the winner.
Toronto's Shaftesbury Films, which produces the live-action series, received the $50,000 prize.
"When we started, I don't think anybody thought it was going to do as well as it's done. It's insane. I never expected that in a million years," said actress Ashley Leggat, one of the show's young stars.
"But there are so many kids going through the same situation and it's not sugar-coated; we don't pretend to be one big happy family where everyone gets along all the time. These are real problems that real kids face every day."
Life with Derek, which airs on The Family Channel in Canada but also in 140 countries around the globe, beat out two other finalists: animated series Johnny Test and interactive series Roll Play.
To watch some episodes from Life with Derek go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=life+with+derek+episodes
For a Website dedicated to Michael Seiter go to http://www.fanpop.com/spots/michael-seater
For The Ashley Laggat Fan Club go to http://www.fanpop.com/spots/ashley-leggat
For a Review of Life with Derek go to http://www.commonsensemedia.org/tv-reviews/Life-with-Derek.html?show=adult
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxNZYNMoMZ4
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Keywords: Life with Derek Cast