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`Drake & Josh' Wannabe Martin & Lewis

`Drake & Josh' Wannabe Martin & Lewis

They may be the hottest young comedy team on television, but the stars of "Drake & Josh" are really old souls at heart.
How old, you may wonder. Just old enough to hold up Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis as role models.
"I would really like for us to try to emulate the Martin and Lewis kind of thing and bring it up to today," says Drake Bell, the duo's Dean Martin-style straight man to partner Josh Peck's loud, rubber-faced comedian.
But why Martin and Lewis, a comedy team that broke up 30 years before Peck and Bell were born? (Bell is 20; Peck 19.) The answer, the two say, is simple: There's never been another as funny, or simply as much fun, to draw inspiration from.
"Working with Josh isn't work. It's fun. It's like a big party," Bell laughs.
"When I work on other stuff, it's like `All right, now I have to concentrate,'" he adds, lowering his voice to a more serious tone. "I don't have my goofy sidekick next to me."
For his part, Peck can't understand why another duo like Martin and Lewis never came along. Then, again, when he thinks about it some more, he ponders that maybe it has.
"I'm kind of known for physical comedy on the show. I'm always falling over something, and I think of Jerry Lewis every time I do it," Peck says. "And Drake, he's a total Dean; debonair and with charisma _ and plus he sings."
At one point the duo had more a Laurel and Hardy look, before Peck, the heavyset foil to rock-star handsome, guitar-strumming Bell, dropped 100 pounds with the help of exercise and a diet that meant no longer "living off pizza."
Although he looked noticeably thinner in last season's episodes, the change in appearance was even more dramatic when the show launched its fourth season on the Nickelodeon cable network in September.
"It was about being happy in my own skin and having a healthier outlook on life," he says of the decision to lose weight.
Not that it was easy.
"Gyms have that smell of sweat and sanitary cleaning stuff that makes you want to run for the hills," he adds with a laugh. "But I decided to grind it out and get it done."
Although they look more alike now, Peck's Josh remains firmly rooted as the loud, blustering stepbrother to Bell's smirking slacker, who in his efforts to woo girls and play gigs with his rock band is likely to leave their lives in a shambles.
It's been a fun run, the two say, adding they're proud of "Drake & Josh" and the fact they hear not only from teens but even college students and parents who tell them they enjoy the show.
But now they're ready to stretch a bit. Nickelodeon Movies recently announced it would star the two in a theatrical film they hope might be the next step in their Martin-and-Lewis evolution. They won't play their TV show characters this time, although Bell will still be the slacker who drags the reluctant Peck into ill-conceived comedic adventures.
If the film scores with the public, the two figure there might be more "Drake & Josh" movies in their future.
Martin and Lewis, after all, parleyed just such success into 10 wild and funny years before splitting so acrimoniously that they didn't speak for decades.
Bell and Peck, though, aren't worried about that fate befalling them. After all, they note, they had their big blowup on the day they met.
"We didn't hit it off at all," Bell says by phone as he prepares for a recording session with his band. "I don't know why, but we just kind of rubbed each other the wrong way."
Peck had just made the film "Snow Day" and Bell was a regular on the children's variety series "The Amanda Show" when the respective casts appeared on a game show called "Double Dare" in 1999. The insults, particularly between Peck and Bell, flew fast and furious.
A year later, Bell was looking over the cast sheet for next season's "Amanda" when he saw Peck's name.
"I'm like, 'Oh, no, not that kid.'"
Peck, taking up the story separately, recalls their second meeting.
"He says, `So, I hear you're going to be on the show. I hear you do standup. Tell me a joke."
"He had me on the floor, laughing," Bell recalls. "I told myself, 'I'm going to get along with this kid.'"
The two say they have gone on to become best friends, a relationship likely made stronger after Bell was badly injured last December when a car crashed into his vintage Mustang as he waited to make a left turn on Pacific Coast Highway.
He had seven teeth knocked out, suffered a broken neck and jaw and injuries to his face that required 1,500 stitches to fix.
Although the only noticeable reminder nearly a year later is a small scar on his chin, Bell says he is frequently still in pain.
"Throughout the whole season, he never complained," Peck said. "One day he went in for nine root canals. Nine root canals! That's got be the equivalent to having your toenails ripped out."
Four months after the crash, Bell was well enough to join Peck at the Kids Choice Awards where the duo collected trophies for favorite TV show and Bell won another for favorite TV actor.
"That was the best time ever, dude," he says now. "Josh and I were walking off the stage and there was a golf cart waiting for us and you sit on the back. We were in our suits and stuff and had our awards. You see pictures of Martin and Lewis on the Paramount lot, and it was just like that."


Updated : 2021-04-23 06:32 GMT+08:00