Radio and TV Talk

Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.

Catching up with Martin Lawrence (Fox Theatre, October 1, 2)

By RODNEY HO/, originally filed Thursday, September 3, 2015

Martin Lawrence, like Eddie Murphy, started as a raunchy stand-up comic but became better known as a film and TV star.

At age 50, Lawrence is back to basics, returning to the road. He will be at Atlanta's Fox Theatre October 1 and 2 for the first time since 1992, a couple of months before his popular sitcom "Martin" debuted. (Buy tickets here.)

"It's been awhile since I've done a show in Atlanta," Lawrence said in a recent phone interview. "But I did film 'Big Momma's House 3' there [in 2011.] I just had a ball there. Atlanta has been good to me. People are pretty nice to me. They show me love."

Lawrence has kept a relatively low profile in recent years. Last year, he tried a TV comeback on FX playing a lawyer opposite Kelsey Grammer on a conventional sitcom called "Partners." But it failed to ignite much interest among viewers and was not picked up for more seasons.

Martin Lawrence partners

He blamed the quick cancellation on a lack of fit with FX, which tends to air edgier fare like "Louie" and "Married." "We didn't have enough support," he said. "It could have worked on another network." (TV Land might have been more amenable.)

For now, he isn't focused on TV, showing no real interest hosting game shows or talk shows like Steve Harvey or participating in reality shows of any sort.

But he is working on a sequel to the 1996 film "A Thin Line Between Love and Hate" and a Christmas movie.

And he said fans ask him every day about a third "Bad Boys" with Will Smith, a possibility he posed last year on Conan O'Brien's talk show.

The sequel remains merely a possibility. "All I know what they tell me is they're working on a script," he said. "It's something they want to do really badly. I'll believe it when I see it."

Bad Boy

He is studiously humble when asked if current A list star Kevin Hart is channeling his style of comedy and energy on stage and in film.

"It's not my job to follow that," Lawrence said. "I just try to do what I do. Whatever impact I make in the comedy game hopefully helps the next man."

He sounds calm and happy many years after both physical and mental health issues impacted his career. " I am in a very positive place," he said. "I've grown up a lot. I've seen a lot. I've been through a lot."

Lawrence divorced his second wife in 2012 and is now dating someone not in the industry he declined to name. "I'm really feeling it," he said. "It's special. But it's not Jennifer Lopez!"

And "Martin" continues to pay financial dividends to him since TV One frequently airs repeats 20 years after the fact. "A new generation is grabbing on to it and enjoying the show," he said. "That's really cool."



Martin Lawrence

8 p.m. Thursday, October 1 and Friday, October 2

$39.50 to $150 before fees

Fox Theatre

660 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta

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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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