Dave Coulier was taken aback when he returned to Spokane to shoot the sitcom “Live + Local” in Airway Heights over the winter. The last time the former star of “Full House” and “Fuller House” was in town, it was 2007 when the actor-comic starred in the film “The Family Holiday.”
“I was so surprised how different Spokane is from how it was 15 years ago,” Coulier said from his suburban Detroit home. “Downtown Spokane is like a different place. I remember when I shot the movie there and the old hotel, the original Davenport, was and is so magnificent. I remember when we shot the movie, we needed snow and we wished for a storm and we got a blizzard. I have great memories from that time in Spokane.”
While working on “Live + Local,” Coulier wished for an ice skating rink. “I was hoping for a place to skate and there was the outdoor pond downtown,” Coulier said. “I brought my hockey skates and at the end of most days I went down there to skate.”
Coulier, 62, plays a popular veteran DJ in a small market, who toils at a faith-based radio station, KHUG.
“My character, Tommy Murphy, has been number one in the market forever,” Coulier said. “But the dynasty is threatened. His contract is up and he has to deal with inner turmoil and struggles. You’ll see a confident guy start to fray at the edges a bit.”
Emily Pendergast (“Veep”) and Kendra Ann Sherrill (“Z Nation”) co-star. “It’s a great cast and a great concept,” Coulier said.
Show creator and writer Dan Merchant was inspired by radio stations in Washington state. However, his native Seattle and Spokane, where he resides, weren’t cities that had any impact on “Live + Local.”
“The cities that had an effect on me were Ellensburg and Wenatchee,” Merchant said while calling from his Spokane office. “I’ve driven through those towns traveling from Seattle to Spokane and I listen to the radio.”
Much of the show, particularly the interviews Coulier’s character conducts, are in the moment. “Sixty percent of the show is scripted and 40 percent is improv,” Coulier said. “When Dan Merchant asked me to be part of the show he told me about the improvisational element. He told me that was the reason he wanted me since I’ve worked onstage as a comic and been on the set of sitcoms. He said he needed a guy like me, who is quick on his feet to be in the show and I told him that sounds wonderful. The entire experience is great.”
The initial episode of Live + Local” debuted on Pure Flix on Thursday. A new episode will appear every Thursday. The six-episode first season ends in early August.
Coulier hopes there will be additional seasons just so he can return to Spokane. “I love the city,” Coulier said. I wish I saw more of it this time. We were working on the show from mid-January to the beginning of February. I started work when it was dark and when my day ended it was dark. But I hope we get to do more episodes but it depends on how things go. It’s out of my control but it’s a fun, different kind of series that I hope folks check out.”
Working on the show was a welcome diversion for Coulier since his close friend and “Full House” and “Fuller House” colleague Bob Saget passed away a week before production began.
“Our show gave me something else to think about and it was good since I was devastated,” Coulier said. “Losing Bob was a real heart punch. When John Stamos called me and told me that Bob died I felt like I was having a mild heart attack.”
Coulier was still reeling over the deaths of his brother and father, who passed within a year of Saget. “I had to process so much grief in a short period of time,” Coulier recalled. “I didn’t know at times if I was grieving over my dad or my brother or Bob, who was like a brother to me.”
The memories helped Coulier pull through. “I had so many funny moments to look back at and I will forever have that,” Coulier said. “My experience on ‘Full House’ and ‘Fuller House’ was just extraordinary. We had no idea how powerful and huge our fan base was until we returned with ‘Fuller House’ (in 2016). Our numbers on Netflix were huge. Our success was great but what was most significant was our connection with each other. When we reunited for ‘Fuller House,’ it was as if no time had passed. We did the same funny bits with each other, the same impressions and more of the practical jokes we used to do. It was such a special experience.”
Now Coulier has another television family with “Live + Local.” “It’s a different show with a different set of people but we all like each other and it’s a great deal of fun,” Coulier said. “I hope we get to do this show for a long time but we’ll see what happens.”
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