‘Mathematicians! Freeze!’ An interview with Joe Howard of ‘Mathnet’

Photo courtesy of Joe HowardSome heroes fight crime with super powers or guns. As Officer George Frankly on the long-running PBS series “Mathnet,� Joe Howard did it with exponential powers and puns.

Starring as the crime-solving mathematician on the “Dragnet� parody that concluded each episode of “Square One TV� from 1987-1994, the Yonkers native reportedly beat out “Saturday Night Live� alumnus Phil Hartman for the part. A year after “Mathnet� closed its final case, Howard moved with his wife into a Sherman Oaks, Calif., house previously owned by “Curb Your Enthusiasm� star Larry David.

Throughout the 58-year-old actor’s career, Howard has worked steadily in film, television and more than 100 commercials. In the process, he shared scenes with Academy Award winners Ben Kingsley in “House of Sand and Fogâ€? and Anthony Hopkins in “The World’s Fastest Indian.â€? Despite this credibility, he graciously accepted a phone interview with Suburbarazzi last week.

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• Since Children’s Television Workshop was the creative force behind both “Sesame Street” and “Square One TV,” you’ve said on SquareOneTV.org that your wife Sharon thought you had an edge getting hired for “Mathnetâ€? because you “look like a Muppet when (you) grin.â€? Did she really say that?

That’s true…. I figured there was some kind of subliminal thing going there that they couldn’t resist.

• Was the calculator holster uncomfortable?

That was a standard police holster and it was quite comfortable. In fact, I’m kind of kicking myself I didn’t ask them if I could keep it. (But) the calculator itself was just one of these little cheesy things that you could buy in any Staples store. I used to think, talking to myself, “What a cheesy prop this is.”

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Learn about Joe Howard’s off-screen friendship with “Saved By The Bell’s” Mr. Belding and on-screen family bonds after the break!

(Photo courtesy of Joe Howard.)

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Support Your Neighbors … at the Movies

Our weekly rundown on which local stars have films in the multiplexes right now:

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• “The Architect” is one of those rare films released simultaneously in theaters and on DVD, and it stars Palisades native Hayden Panettiere, aka the Cheerleader from NBC’s “Heroes.” (Metacritic score: 48)

• “Apocalypto,” the subtitled, ultra-gory Mayan epic from Mel Gibson — born and raised in Peekskill — also opens today. (Metacritic score: 72)

• “Deja Vu,” the latest film from Mount Vernon’s hometown hero Denzel Washington is going on its second week in theaters, and with a little help from you can stay in the top five. (Metacritic score: 59)

• “Unaccompanied Minors” stars Yonkers’ Tyler James Williams (aka the young Chris Rock on “Everybody Hates Chris”). If you haven’t already, be sure to see our in-depth analysis of how it stacks up against “Home Alone.” (Metacritic score: 43)

Showdown: ‘Unaccompanied Minors’ v. ‘Home Alone’

Yonkers native Tyler James Williams (right), who plays the title character based on Chris Rock’s childhood in The CW’s “Everybody Hates Chris,” is one of five rambunctious teens running amok in an airport in the flick “Unaccompanied Minors.”

With the movie slated for release this Friday, Suburbarazzi compares the potential of the film against its eerily similar 1990 predecessor “Home Alone.”

  • Child star: Tyler James Williams v. Macaulay Culkin — Williams is a star on the rise. Culkin’s career peaked with “Home Alone,” then there was the whole lip-syncing someone else’s rap in Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” video. Winner: “Unaccompanied Minors.”
  • Panicky Mom: Some Woman Doing A Weak Catherine O’Hara Impression v. Catherine O’Hara — Puh. Leez. Not only did O’Hara’s “Kevin!” resonate through cinema history, her work in any of Christopher Guest’s films makes her impossible to beat. After all, “God loves a terrier.” Winner: “Home Alone.”

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