Tim Allen's phone call with Jay Leno and advice for his 'Santa Clauses' co-star, his daughter

Giving himself the heave-ho-ho-ho.

Sixteen years after the last installment of “The Santa Clause” movie franchise, Disney+’s limited series “The Santa Clauses” finds Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) trading his trusty reindeer for retirement.

The six-part revival follows a successful trilogy with Allen at the reins of Santa’s sleigh after St. Nick slid off Scott’s roof in the original “The Santa Clause,” released in 1994. Since Scott put on the red suit, he became Father Christmas. The movie raked in more than $190 million at the box office worldwide. “The Santa Clause 2” (2002) earned more than $172 million, and “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause” made more than $110 million.

Reviving the character seems like a slam-dunk for Disney+, which scored with September’s long-awaited sequel “Hocus Pocus 2,” the streaming platform’s most-watched movie.

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Allen said he was interested in reprising the role, but only if the story was good and returned to simpler storytelling. “I know how the business works, and that they’re looking for content,” he says. “Once they started putting all this together, I said, ‘Yeah I’ll get back in the suit and go through the prosthetics, which was a marvelous experience because I look younger as Santa Claus than I do in person.'”

In the new series, things have gone a little south at the North Pole. Scott is worried his role of giving gifts all over the world is taking precious time from his family. His wife, Carol (Elizabeth Mitchell), is sick of her role as Mrs. Claus and looking like “a timeworn, overstuffed armchair.” Their children (Austin Kane and Allen’s daughter Elizabeth Allen-Dick, in her screen debut) wonder what life is like outside Santaland.

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The series also brings back favorites from the film franchise, including Scott’s eldest Charlie (Eric Lloyd) and elf Bernard (David Krumholtz). A new but familiar face also pops up at the North Pole: Peyton Manning as himself makes a play for Santa’s job. “Can’t wait to rub this in Brady’s face,” the Hall of Fame quarterback says in a trailer.

“I’m a huge football fan, and he’s one of the best,” says Allen, 69. “He’s also one of the most interesting funny people outside of football. He’s a natural at this.”

Allen acknowledges that, like Scott, he has contemplated retirement. He has even talked about it with good friend Jay Leno, who Allen says is “doing well” after a gasoline fire that erupted in Leno’s garagethis weekend, causing “serious burns” to his face and hands.

Allen says that during a phone chat Leno told him, “Yeah, I got burned pretty bad.’ I said, ‘But you’re on the phone. I would be crying in the hospital if I was burned. He goes, ‘Yeah, it’s pretty bad.’ ‘Do you have no central nervous system? I don’t understand how’re you talking on the phone.’ But he’s doing all right.”

Leno said in a statement Monday that he would just need “a week or two to get back on my feet.” But Dr. Peter Grossman, medical director of the Grossman Burn Center, said Wednesdaythat Leno is “realizing that he does need to perhaps take it a little slower than he initially anticipated.” (Leno had surgery for excision and grafting and will need another procedure later this week.

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Leno feels “Why retire?” Allen says, and so does he. Allen, known for roles in “Toy Story,” Fox’s “Last Man Standing” and ABC’s “Home Improvement,” loves acting and stand-up comedy, minus the hotels and ironing his own clothes while touring. “There’s about 40 minutes on stage that’s a blessed event, that I get to entertain and make people laugh,” he says. “I love to laugh, and I get to extend that love I have to them.”

Time off makes him nervous. There was a time when Allen’s job robbed him of time with his family, like his on-screen “Santa Clauses” counterpart.

During “my first marriage (to Laura Deibel) I was gone a lot, in order to gain my career,” he says. “And I’ve always looked back. I didn’t spend that much time with my older daughter (Katherine, now33), and I do my very best to constantly make amends to her.”

Things with his daughter Elizabeth, 13, whom he shares with his second wife, actress Jane Hajduk, are much different by comparison. “I’m not on the road as much, so I’m at a lot of her events,” he says. “It’s a very different situation, but I’ve made that transition because I can.”

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Allen and Elizabeth also spent time together on the set of “The Santa Clauses,” which the proud dad describes as “overwhelming.”

“Every scene we did together I was going ‘This is amazing!’” he says.

Allen, an executive producer of the series, requested Elizabeth be cast just as a background elf, but he says her acting skills landed her the role of Santa’s daughter.

“She read so well, a random sentence. They said, ‘Could she read a little bit more?’” Allen says. “I wanted them to assure me they’re not doing this because she’s my daughter. She kept reading … and even her mom and I were going, ‘God, (she) really drilled this.’”

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After another audition, Allen said, it was apparent his daughter “just did it better than everybody else. I didn’t say one word, and they looked at me, and I said: ‘We got five more girls to read, everybody. Let’s move on.’ And that was all I ever said, and they ended up casting her.”

Allen advised his daughter: “You have one job here, which is add value to everything that (the crew has) done so far. That’s your job. You’re no more important, you’re no less important. And she did all that. That’s all I really cared about – that she acted with respect.”

Consider Elizabeth on her dad’s nice list.

Contributing: Charles Trepany

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jay Leno is ‘doing well’ says ‘Santa Clauses’ star Tim Allen

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