ABOUT JOHN SCHNEIDER
About John Schneider
It would be impressive enough for an actor to star in a single show that changed the course of television history with iconic characters and cross-generational appeal, but the fact that John Schneider’s done exactly that on a consistent basis for at least four decades makes him nothing short of legendary. Whether it’s playing Jim Cryer on Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots, immortalizing Jonathan Kent on Smallville and Bo Duke on The Dukes of Hazzard, the man of many hats is synonymous with success and one of most ubiquitous faces in all of pop culture. He’s also been seen in everything from the movies Smokey and the Bandit (Burt Reynolds), Felicity: An American Girl Adventure (Shailene Woodley), Sydney White (Amanda Bynes) and Christmas In Tune (co-starring with Reba McEntire) to regularly popping up on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Nip/Tuck, The Secret Life of the American Teenager and even showing off some of his own fancy footwork on Dancing with the Stars.
Add in a simultaneous career as a five-time chart-topping country artist with over 20 albums to his credit, including well over 100 new songs since returning to the recording studio in the 2016, alongside writing, directing and starring in a multitude of movies with executive producer Alicia Allain under their own John Schneider Studios/Maven Entertainment banners, and he could quite realistically be counted amongst the most prolific and recognized entertainers of all time. Just ask the most than 10,000 fans who travel annually to their 58-acre compound in Holden, Louisiana for “Bo’s Extravaganza” to swap stories, score autographs, browse memorabilia, take in a classic car show featuring the actual vehicles seen on screen and catch concerts by the most enormous names in music, such as Schneider and lifelong admirer Kid Rock.
“The balance of careers really takes care of itself,” he insists of the delightfully crazy calendar he and Allain keep. “We spend time recording an album and then there’s time spent mixing the album, which gives me time to be off either touring with music or working on a movie. When the movie is finished filming, there are many aspects of postproduction that need to be done, and if I am not doing them myself, then naturally so I don’t get bored, I am out on the road. I guess the moral to the story is that Alicia and I are both hard, hard workers who don’t really, at this point anyway, seem to need any downtime!”
That’s certainly the case in Schneider’s recent musical outpourings after spending all of 2018 releasing one song a week as part of an ambitious project called The Odyssey, which was produced by longtime friend, personal champion, superstar session man and fellow Dukes collaborator Paul Leim, in addition to Greatest Hits…Still! (featuring acoustic re-recordings of several smash hits), plus the holiday EP Merry Christmas Baby. The unstoppable streak continued into 2019 with the release of the Southern Rock-inspired album Redneck Rebel, and a deeply personal inspirational album, Recycling Grace, which expanded upon his remarkable crossover ability into a wide array of artistic territory. However, it’s all set the stage for what’s quite possibly the most definitive John Schneider album to date, aptly titled Southern Ways, and overflowing with a return-to-roots boldness in not only its straight up country flavor, but the lyrical content throughout several thought-provoking originals and covers.
“I’m a recovering Yankee and I got tired of all this politically correct nonsense where people trying to sell tickets, like The Dixie Chicks and Lady Antebellum, could only get any ink on themselves by basically taking a poo on all things Southern, saying the word ‘Dixie’ is bad and the word ‘Antebellum’ is bad. That made me angry, still does, so because I’m an independent artist, I was able to do Southern Ways, where we included one of my favorite songs all time, which is The Bellamy Brothers’ “You Ain’t Just Whistlin’ Dixie.” It’s a classic song, but has some very non-politically correct words in it today, but I did it anyway because the South has been misrepresented in history. Many words are misrepresented in history, not the least of which is the word “confederate,” which does not mean what people are told it means. It means a lot more than that and a lot less than that. So when I sing, “I’m a grandson of the Southland boys, an heir to the Confederacy,” I wanted to throw that out there just to see what people thought, and when they hear it, they cheer cause there’s nothing wrong with the South. People don’t need to be apologetic about being from or loving the South. It took this 62-year-old from Mount Kisco, New York to have the balls to sing that song again!”
Schneider has carried over that spirit of both speaking his mind and representing that adopted region in just as steady of a movie-making schedule, where he remains at the forefront of pushing the envelope. His latest in the personally-coined “Southern horsepowered comedy” tradition is Poker Run, a full-throttled sequel to Stand On It, which featured a spectacular shout-out to his fellow racing film, Smokey and the Bandit.
Indeed, all bets are back on as Tiny (Michael Sullivan) and Timmy Needham (Dane Rhodes) bankroll an illegal Texas hold’em-style poker game, while players race from one remote location to the next. The two swindlers front half a million dollars to Frosty (Cody McCarver), Fred (Mindy Robinson), Sonny (Dion Baia) and Papa (Dane Rhodes), while Duke, played by Schneider, has to put up the $500,000 he just won in the previous film. The players go all in, making the pot $2.5 million dollars, and the winner takes all!
The burgeoning franchise is already looking forward to third installment with “Double or Nothin’,” which finds Schneider adding daredevil to his resume and joining a ridiculously exclusive club of not just actors, but absolutely anyone who’s ever been able to successfully achieve a death-defying car jump of over 150 feet, let alone having the custom-built T-Top Mopar Challenger in fully working order upon its completion!
“We filmed that at Bo’s Extravaganza, where we’ve got all kinds of age groups and I really wanted the kids to know I did my own stunt because I feel like I cheated them when I was doing Dukes,” he admits. “But now that Alicia and I are making what we want, they could be on the other side of the safety barrier and actually watch me do it. I want them to know that I’m true, I’m honest and I’m pretty much a bad ass (laughs).”
Those authentic trends will continue in an entirely different lane throughout the forthcoming To Die For, which Schneider describes as a movie “about a reclusive veteran who gets arrested because he refuses to take the American flag off the back of his El Camino when he’s driving by the high school, so he winds up orchestrating a situation through which he can die for his flag. It’s not a light-hearted film at all, but a perspective and a story that I very much want to get out there. I want to display somebody who actually desires dying for his country. That to me a heroic posture that we’ve not really seen in a very long time in the studio system.”
Continues Schneider: “The machine,” as Alicia and I call it, would never green light a movie like this cause it’s too controversial and it’s too patriotic. People don’t talk about sacrifice anymore. Being an American citizen is worth fighting for. I suppose people would say it’s a political platform now, but I really don’t think so. I think it’s a common sense platform. It’s certainly getting more and more rare, so while we’re sometimes getting back to my Dukes and Smokey and the Bandit roots, at the same time, we’re making statements or putting stories out there that are designed to make people think things through a little bit more fully.”
Ever since breaking ties with “the machine,” Schneider has smashed sales records on DVD via the JohnSchneiderStudios.com storefront and spearheaded the streaming service, CineflixDOD.com to give fans of all ages instant access at their fingertips. Whether letting the laughs flow or tackling tough topical conversations, both formats have skyrocketed in popularity, filling a much-needed void in entertainment today.
“We make movies that Alicia and I would want to see, first and foremost,” he explains. “A lot of people make movies they would never watch, so we make movies that celebrate community and celebrate humanity. One of the reasons is that Hollywood has turned their back completely, well, on sanity, number one, but also on all things rural…Most everybody I’ve ever associated with for any long period of time in my life, I would say, is a rural person and we just have a whole different outlook. Hollywood doesn’t really want to have anything to do with those people and they haven’t in a long time, so somebody has to fly the flag- pun intended- of the rural man, woman, child, family and community cause nobody else really is. They think everybody wants to live in the city, if given their druthers, and it just ain’t so (laughs).”
That isn’t to say Schneider hasn’t had his fair share of superstardom, including Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots, the flagship series of OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) from 2013-2021 and frequent #1 primetime cable series. “I hope The Haves and Have Nots will show people that there is a versatility to my storytelling through acting that is much brighter than they suspected,” Schneider observes of his widely embraced Jim Cryer character. “Of course it’s always fun to play the bad guy, but it also takes a little more for thought. One of the best things about it is it gives me an opportunity to really stretch, explore and take chances. I have loved every minute of it!”
He also spent a whopping ten years on The WB turned The CW’s Smallville, which sent him flying straight into the epicenter of Superman hysteria and prompted his constant demand to appear at themed conventions and special events with massive crowds from all over the globe. “Playing Jonathan on Smallville was a huge honor,” he confirms. “I believe that that character is quite possibly the best father figure on television. Ever. I’m also proud to be part of what I believe is the crown jewel of the entire Superman legend. I don’t believe there was a bad episode of that show. One amazing adventure after another!
And then of course there’s his pioneering presence on CBS’ The Dukes of Hazzard for seven stratospheric years where Schneider was so immensely popular, he was the subject of an elaborate but ultimately resolved pickpocketing scheme where his stolen driver’s license was bootlegged and sold in staggering quantities at $50 a pop for decades until it was returned to its rightful owner (though the now comical tradition continues being available on Schneider’s website with a personally signed certificate of authenticity).
“The great thing about Dukes is there were no cell phones in those days so people’s heads were not buried in them,” he recalls of it impenetrable run from the late 1970s through the mid-‘80s. “We actually depended upon our relationships, friendships and family in order to get through whatever the weekly issue was. I do think that people who are fans of The Dukes of Hazzard are more likely to pay attention to one another rather than ignore one another in favor of those who may call or text at any second…The number one thing I hear about people’s memory of The Dukes of Hazzard is that they remember spending time with love ones watching it. Of course they remember specific episodes, but more than that, they remember their lives every Friday night as they gathered together as a family and watch this great show. Because of that, I actually feel as if I’m a part of their family and not just someone who is in a box in their living room.”
It’s no surprise that 2019’s memoir, My Life, My Way, was immensely anticipated, sharing never-before-shared stories about all of the above, along with exploring how a lonely, overweight boy from the Big Apple transformed himself into a modern-day cowboy, American heartthrob, and the South’s favorite son. There’s even tales about the time he moved in with Johnny Cash, dealing with a tabloid-friendly divorce, the floods that destroyed his home and film studio, amongst many more behind the scenes subjects.
Though Schneider definitely deserves a day (or a decade) off given that unceasing work ethic, he fills in any free time with the completely selfless efforts of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which he co-founded with Marie Osmond in 1983 and has since raised more than $7 billion dollars for medical research and awareness that’s been distributed directly to a network of 170 facilities.
It turns out the idea of setting specific goals still appeals to Schneider on the professional front as well, who rather than coasting on his ever-increasing list of countless of accomplishments, keeps on dreaming of cultivating a constant cycle of movies and music. “I wouldn’t trade a minute of what Alicia and I do for another five, six, seven-year run of a television show with somebody else,” sums up Schneider. “Nope, not anymore. Been there, done that, got a t-shirt. Now we’re doing what we wanna do with whom. We do what we love with people we love every day. It’s important that we designed a world in which that could thrive and we took it. This was not handed to us. When you cut yourself from the system, you are taking a calculated risk, so it better be worth it and it is. Moderate success on your own is better than great success under someone else’s banner because they can turn it off at any time. Every show I’ve been on has eventually been canceled. They grow in popularity week after week, but when they are over, it is instant. Not so when you are at the helm of your own studio creating your own content. Alicia and I are truly the masters of our own destiny, sink or swim. We’ve lived a lot of life. We enjoy everything or we wouldn’t do it.”
John Schneider has enjoyed a successful career in country music, topping the charts with his no. 1 hits I’ve Been Around Enough to Know and You’re the Last Thing I Needed Tonight. From 1984 to 1987 Schneider released six albums under MCA Nashville including his no. 1 album A Memory Like Youand the quintessential Greatest Hits album. Schneider then took time off to pursue his acting opportunities, but would return with Worth the Wait in 1996. He’s gone on to release two Christmas albums, including Home For Christmas with Dukes of Hazzard co-star Tom Wopat.
John Schneider made his television debut in 1978 as Bo Duke on The Dukes of Hazzard, the show ran for six years on CBS and remains in syndication on CMT and TNT. In 2001, Schneider landed the role of Jonathon Kent – Superman’s father – on the CW’s Smallville. He currently plays the role of the powerful Judge Jim Cryer in the Tyler Perry smash hit, The Haves and the Have Nots. Schneider has also made an impact on the film community starring in film such as Dream House, Happy Endings and Run, where he played opposite Kirk Douglas.
Though John Schneider has directed episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard and Smallville. His cinema directorial debut was the return to form story of Bo Duke in Collier & Co. in 2006. Following the success of that film, he returned with a slate of indie classics like Like Son starring Laura Cayouette (Django, Kill Bill,) followed by Anderson Bench, Smothered and Inadmissible. John Schneider Studios will be debuting two films this year: 4:GO and One Month Out.
WHAT ELSE IS JOHN UP TO?
Cineflix is a film festival and distribution avenue that puts filmmakers in the driver’s seat. Started by John Schneider Studios and Maven Entertainment, it provides filmmakers opportunity for success.
Co-founded with Marie Osmond in 1983, The Children’s Miracle Network has raised over $4.7 billion for over 200 member hospitals and 32 million treatments to children across the U.S.