Lavan Davis, Allen Payne and Lance Gross, the leading men in the new sitcom “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne“, are sitting on logs in a mock campsite, waiting for their boss Tyler Perry to say, “Action.” Suddenly Davis, unsolicited, suggests that the scene open with the men laughing. Somehow, between checking his e-mail and directing his production crew, Perry warns his star not to direct the scene. “Let me handle it,” Perry says. Not a beat later, he leans into the mic again: “Don’t listen to Lavan, but I want you to start the scene laughing,” says Perry with a chuckle, inspiring a fresh round of giggles from his staff and crew.
Perry and the “House of Payne” folks have a lot to laugh about these days. The media maverick negotiated an unprecedented $200 million deal that has cable network TBS and five big-city Fox stations distributing and airing 100 prepackaged episodes of his show, which chronicles the high jinks of a multigenerational family living under the same roof. In the sitcom, there’s drug abuse, blended family issues, romance, teen problems and the like — all familiar fodder for Perry — drenched in African-American colloquialism, old-time religion and plenty of knee-slapping humor. “It’s the same recipe,” says his costar Demetria McKinney, “just in a different pan.” For Perry, it’s simply another extension of his commitment to make his audiences feel right at home: “People will take away from the show what many people take away from my films — real people dealing with real issues.”
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