Tony Danza turns teacher for TV show

Wed Sep 29, 2010 2:11pm EDT
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By Jill Jacobs

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tony Danza has worn many hats during a career spanning over 30 years, including singer, dancer, talk show host and Broadway star, but his latest role as "teacher" may be his biggest challenge so far.

Danza, 59, best known for creating lovable and enduring characters in the popular TV comedies "Who's The Boss" and "Taxi", documented his year-long stint as a 10th grade English teacher for the reality show, "Teach: Tony Danza," premiering on Friday on cable channel A&E.

"As my 60th birthday approached, I wanted a chance to do something meaningful while benefiting others," said Danza, who had planned to go into teaching in the mid-1970s before his acting career took off.

"I heard President Obama's call to service, and I talked about teaching with a TV producer friend of mine who said, 'That might make a good show.' But I didn't want to do it unless the kids came first. They'd be the priority, and I'd have a chance to live out my dream," Danza told Reuters.

The seven-part series follows Danza as a first year teacher at one of Philadelphia's largest inner city schools. Additional footage was filmed by Danza using a small camera.

Despite a brief career as a professional boxer in the 1970s, Danza described the experience of teaching as "overwhelming" and much harder than he had expected.

"There were some rough times, especially in the beginning that left me in tears," he said.

"I wasn't prepared for how hard it really was. Not just the actual work of lesson planning and grading and test preparation, but the counseling aspect. You have to be a lot of different things to a lot of different people: a father, mother, brother, friend, social worker."   Continued...

<p>Actor Tony Danza poses at the taping of the 5th Annual TV Land Awards in Santa Monica, California April 14, 2007. REUTERS/Max Morse</p>