SUV or minivan? That's the burning issue at the moment. Right now, the family has an SUV that’s got as many seats as a van. "But with this last kid, we've crossed the line," Leighton says. "I can see the minivan." Savant holds his ground: "I'm going down screaming— I don't want one."
On everything else, they've got a mind meld. Cell phones for the kids? When they turn 13, and if that makes them the last in the class to have one, so be it. Church on Sundays? A family affair. Dad coaching softball? You bet—and Mom in the stands, cheering. The code word is "normalcy." As Savant says, "The kids look at us to see if we change. As long as we’re consistent, they're fine." So the weeks roll on. Some nights Savant plays poker with pals. Yes, for money. Last time, he lost $146 and didn’t flinch. Or he and Leighton watch a "screener" DVD of a new film. Or they check out the TV shows their friends are on, fighting to stay awake for The Daily Show.
Leighton auditions, hoping to be cast in a pilot of next year’s hit. Savant aspires to be Gavin MacLeod, moving smoothly from one long-running show to another. No wild fantasies here, I note.
"We’re circus people," Leighton replies.
They're more like prime-time gypsies, I think, aware that even the biggest TV payday isn’t a permanent resting place. But then, they've been here before.
Remember Melrose Place? It was created for the big brothers and sisters of the tweens who adored Beverly Hills, 90210. At 9 p.m., Family Hour ended and Anything Goes began. Heather Locklear took her pleasure on desks and beds alike. Her rival as a hottie? Sydney, the vixen played by Leighton. Savant also was on Melrose Place, as Matt Fielding, the gay guy— a very brave part for an actor to take back in the mid '90s. Not that he hesitated. "I always wanted to be a character actor," he says, "and I thought this was an exceptional role." Plus, the job had a large upside—great visibility, a regular paycheck, and a growing friendship with Laura Leighton.