It’s a problem that many couples face in this modern world – two jobs, two cities, lots of commuting.
Ten miles is workable … 50 miles is tougher … but how about 2,558 miles each way? “I’m racking up some frequent-flyer miles,” Nick Lachey said with a laugh.
The Lacheys (shown here at their 2011 wedding) are the new season’s power couple: Vanessa stars in CBS’ “NCIS: Hawaii” (10 p.m. Mondays); Nick is a judge on Fox’s “Alter Ego,” debuting at 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday (Sept. 22-23).
They live in Hawaii with their three children (ages 4, 6 and 9), while he makes those jaunts to the mainland. Fortunately, “Alter Ego” bunched the taping of its first season.
“We were able to film this in a nice amount of time,” Nick said. “I actually took my oldest son, Camden, with me, and we spent some time in California together.”
But other days, life gets complicated. Consider a recent one for Vanessa:
“Yesterday, I went to work at 6:30 in the morning and I came home and it was around 9:45 (at night),” she said. “And my oldest son was up. I put him back down to bed ….Then I had to do the dishes. And then I studied my lines for today’s work.”
Other people have lives that are more complicated. So does Jane Tennant, the NCIS bureau chief she plays. “It’s about juggling your family as well as your work,” Vanessa said. “And for Jane, it’s her family as well as her country and work.”
The Lacheys were talking to the Television Critics Association in separate sessions on back-to-back September days. Each has a show that’s crucial to a network’s fall line-up.
“Alter Ego” follows “The Masked Singer,” with a similar notion: Aspiring singers perform backstage, while their avatars get the spotlight. What “surprised me the most about this show was the humanity you feel for these avatars,” said Rob Wade, Fox’s alternative-show chief.
To Grimes – the mono-named producer who is one of the judges – this “could really democratize the music industry and make it less about people who look the part.”
She’s 33 and inhabits a high-tech world. So does another judge, will.i.am, a music producer, 46, and a tech buff. The others – Alanis Morissette and Lachey, both 47 – started in the old-school days.
“I was a little bit of a skeptic,” Lachey said.”I don’t play video games; I’m not big on technology.”
But he soon embraced the “Alter Ego” notion. “It’s unlike anything we’ve seen on TV ever.”
Back in Hawaii, Vanessa Lachey, 40, is on more familiar ground. The NCIS is a Navy unit; she grew up on Air Force bases. “There are just layers of the military that are in my blood,” she said. “The respect, the honor; I understand the sacrifice.”
She was born in the Clark Air Base hospital in the Philippines, with a mother who is Filipino and a dad, an Air Force officer, who is mainly Italian. Life was complicated, especially after her parents divorced and remarried; in one nine-year stretch, she went to eight schools in nine years.
But she settled into Charleston, S.C.; as Vanessa Minnillo, she was Miss Teen South Carolina and then an actress and TV personality. She married Lachey, who previously had a high-profile marriage to singer Jessica Simpson.
She’s never returned to the Philippines, but in Hawaii she’s met lots of Filipino people and their food.
Alex Tarrant, a co-star, was homesick for New Zealand, while waiting for his family to arrive. Lachey promptly gave him siopao, a Filipino manapua. “My spirits were lifted, for sure,” he said.
Islands can do that for you, even if they do require a long commute.