Justine Bateman goes behind the scenes to write the episode of Wizards of Waverly Place that airs tonight on The Disney Channel.
The 42-year-old actress, who made her name on Family Ties from 1982-1989, spun lines for today’s teen queen Selena Gomez.
“Everybody has to figure this out themselves,” Justine, who started on Family Ties at age 15, tells me. “I definitely remember thinking long-term about my career with what I did and said. It’s something to think about if they want to continue to work in the business later.”
For Justine, who recently compared baby photos with her Family Ties castmates during a Today show appearance, writing for kids isn’t far-fetched now that she’s a mom to Duke, 6, and Olivia, 4, whose father is her hubby of seven years, Mark.
What are the kids into these days?
“My son really likes the video game called Four,” she says. “You create a little character and take him through his own evolution. That’s a really fun game. And my daughter is into art. She loves making stuff and painting and drawing. It’s good stuff. They’re really fun people.”
“I notice the phrases that I’ve repeated,” she tells me. “If my kids were to make a talking doll of me as a mother, one of my recorded phrases would be ‘I will throw that in the trash.’ ‘If you don’t put that down right now, I will throw that in the trash.’ It’s very funny to hear myself say certain things – like noticing which phrases become the most popular to use.”
She won’t push her little ones into showbiz, though.
“If they wanted to be involved in something creative down the line, I would try to help them out. But there’s an awful lot of choices in the world as far as what one can do for a living. It’s best to be familiar with as many sectors of the working world as you can be so you’ll be better at your creative job anyway. I want them to get out there and know everything about everything. But who knows. It depends on what they want to do for a living.”
As far as an official Family Ties reunion show goes, Justine doesn’t see it in the cards.
“I enjoy shows staying in their moment of time,” she tells me. “I think Family Ties was very specific to that ’80s moment. The things we talked about, the specifics of the characters, what the characters were involved with and enjoyed. I think it had such a great impact because of its timing. I like shows to stay within their timing, but it definitely set the standard for what’s possible on a TV show.”
And, how is her onscreen brother Michael J. Fox doing in his battle against Parkinson’s Disease?
“He’s plugging along,” she says. “He’s got a really great attitude. Mike has never hosted a pity party.”
One thing Justine and Michael remember fondly is their charmed childhood growing up on a hot TV show.
“My first splurge was a pair of Maude Frizon black leather over-the-knee boots,” she says. “I consider that to be a very good purchase, and I wore them for many years. Spending money on well-made things is always a good investment.”
She adds, “I really enjoyed myself.”
Catch Justine’s episode of Wizards of Waverly Place, which airs tonight at 8:30 pm ET/PT on The Disney Channel.
And, pick up the OK! on newsstands now for more on Justine Bateman, Family Ties and Michael J. Fox. Jamie Lynn Spears/Casey Breaks His Silence … ‘I’m No Cheater’” is the cover line.