As with any red-hot series entering its second season, ABC's Desperate Housewives (Sundays at 9 pm/ET) has come under added scrutiny. As critics (OK, gossipmongers) spec that the divas' backstage dueling has taken a toll on the sudser, all the male cast members can do is sit back and get their jobs done. TVGuide.com spoke with Doug Savant about the supposed slump, Tom's mysteriously dropped secret and Housewives' "rivalry" with Lost.
TVGuide.com: Does being on such an estrogen-heavy set create a special camaraderie among the menfolk?
Doug Savant: Occasionally. Most of us play on the Desperate Housewives softball team, so on Saturday we get together and bat some balls around. [Laughs] Right now, I think we're in fourth place. There are some teams that have been together longer than us that are pretty darn good. Like The West Wing...
TVGuide.com: You're getting your butt kicked by Amy Grant and the Three Wishes people, aren't you.
Savant: [Laughs] All right, obviously you looked up our standings on the Internet!
TVGuide.com: Alas, no amount of camaraderie could save you from getting a beat-down on the Oct. 13 all-Housewives men edition of Celebrity Poker Showdown, huh?
Savant: Most people think that being an actor, especially one on a hit show, is all about ego gratification, but for me it's one episode in humility after another.
TVGuide.com: Hey, you weren't first to get knocked out. [Mark Moses had that dishonor.]
Savant: I wasn't the first, but I've gotten so many e-mails about my K-9 off-suit [hole cards].... [Laughs] And now, by the way, everyone is a poker genius. I went to the thing thinking, "OK, I can make $5000 for my charity. That would be great." What I didn't realize is what a bitter taste the experience would leave in my mouth!
TVGuide.com: Which of your costars surprised you the most with his play?
Savant: Actually, Steven [Culp], who had the least amount of experience and ultimately knocked me out, because either he's the greatest actor in the world and he was sandbagging, or he was literally incompetent and still won. Oh, I don't need to defend myself — I lost, damn it.
TVGuide.com: OK, topic change: Do you feel that Housewives has taken some unwarranted hits this season?
Savant: Well, I think we're ripe for sniping, and we've engendered some of that. Frankly, I've lost all objectivity — I feel so close to the show now — but I still think that we have laugh-out-loud moments, and I'm enjoying the performances of my cast mates and the writing. So by my yardstick, we're still doing very well. But when something is so fresh and revolutionary as the show was to the rest of television in its first year, it is a tough act to follow. From what I've heard, the last new episode really galvanized people again.
TVGuide.com: In my opinion, you're in one of the fresher story lines, with Felicity Huffman.
Savant: Thank you very much. I think it's an important one. Last year people were like, "Don't you wish you were doing something else or had one of the other roles? Are you envious of the other men?" I just kept saying, "I've got the greatest job in the world," and I mean that wholeheartedly. All of my scenes are with Felicity and we have a great time, so the work's at a pretty high level.
TVGuide.com: Speaking of envious, I recently asked one of your Melrose Place beaus, Greg Evigan, if he looks longingly at you when watching Housewives, and he said yeah, he longs for your job.
Savant: [Laughs] Greg's a funny guy, a great guy. What were you interviewing him about?
TVGuide.com: He was in a Sci Fi Channel movie about a three-headed dog.
Savant: Yeah, well, he went from bitch-slapping poor Matt on Melrose Place to fighting a three-headed dog. There's karma for you!
TVGuide.com: What happened to Tom's secret, which was hinted at in that Season 1 episode with his dad [played by guest star Ryan O'Neal]? The speculation was that he would be outed as a bigamist.
Savant: When I first came on the show, I do think that's where they were headed. One of the great things — and it's a potential liability — is that our writers are not that far ahead, so there is a fluidity, but specifically in the first year, they were watching and learning a lot about the characters, about the audience response, about who they could write for and what they could write. When an actor gets a job, you feel, "Oh, they love me, of course they want me around." Well, they really didn't have plans to have me around much. [Savant was not on contract until this season.] I liked to say, "Although I'm married to Felicity on the show, ABC and I were just dating." So Tom's evolution has been rewarding in that they felt they didn't need that [duplicitous side] for this character and they really like [his and Lynette's] relationship. I also think they discovered that we have the most sound marriage and probably emblematic of what goes on with most of America. That doesn't strike me as boring in the least. Having four kids, as I do in real life, and trying to maintain your marriage and your sense of humor and everything presents plenty of obstacles to overcome and stories to tell that are both funny and poignant.
TVGuide.com: Are there any plans for Ryan O'Neal to return?
Savant: I've heard it rumored, but there is nothing concrete to tell you yet. It was such a joy to work with him. We had no idea what to expect, because he has been such fodder for the tabloids, and he was charming, gracious, generous, funny and self-deprecating.
TVGuide.com: What can you tease about upcoming story lines?
Savant: There is a fantastic episode coming up [on Nov. 13]. How can I tease it? Umm.... Do you know who Larry Miller is? He guest-stars and is brilliant. You'll see him in a way that you've never quite seen him before. How's that?
TVGuide.com: Over the summer, Lost's Matthew Fox claimed that Housewives was getting all the love — meaning bonus bling — from ABC. Just what kind of baubles and trinkets are you wading in over there?
Savant: [Laughs] I don't know what Matthew Fox was referring to. I'm grateful to have a job, and I'm a fan of Lost, and I don't want to perpetuate any feuding between two hit shows. I think it's crazy, man. He works in Hawaii on what's now an Emmy-winning show, getting the opportunity to do some of the best work that's out there on television. I would think that that would be enough. I wish him much happiness and less....
TVGuide.com: So, no smack-talking from you?
Savant: Whatever! I wish I could couch it in a way that... I don't want to be offensive to Matt Fox. Maybe it was the journalist's problem? Maybe they took him out of context. How's that? [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Will we see your wife [Melrose costar Laura Leighton] back on TV anytime soon?
Savant: Eyes was cut short, and that was a travesty, an all-out travesty. John McNamara created what I think was a really smart, funny show; Tim Daly was doing some of the best work he's ever done. People were passionate about it.... It just wasn't given a fair shake. But the reason you haven't seen her since is that we had another baby in June. The new pilot season is coming up and she'll be back out there. We mourn Eyes, but she'll be back out there.
TVGuide.com: Melrose's Sydney was the best.
Savant: Everybody loved Sydney — I thought that, frankly, should be the name of her spin-off. She was a miserable failure at all [of her grand schemes] but she did it with such style that people adored her. Laura is still beloved for that.
TVGuide.com: Leave us with a colorful anecdote from your years as a pizza delivery guy.
Savant: OK, and this is 100 percent true: I hadn't yet gotten Melrose Place, but I had done six movies — including one called Masquerade, with Rob Lowe and Meg Tilly — and I was delivering a pizza to someone who was watching Masquerade on HBO. As I'm handing them the pizza, they turn to look at the television and look back at me, and look at the television and look at me and say, "Are you that guy?" I was like, "Yeah, just give me the money for the pizza."
TVGuide.com: Did they figure there was no need to tip a working actor?
Savant: Trust me, when I was delivering pizzas you were lucky to get a $2 tip, so to anybody reading this at TVGuide.com, tell them to tip their freakin' pizza guys at least five bucks!