Bill Engvall

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Park City isn't necessarily a blue-collar town, but one of the country's most famous blue-collar guys lives there.

Well, Bill Engvall owns a house there. And he spends time there every year.

"We had a condo for a while, and then we bought a house about 10 years ago," said the actor/comedian, whose "Bill Engvall Show" airs Thursdays at 7 p.m. on TBS.

The born-and-raised Texan isn't the one who decided he wanted to have a mountain home. Gail, his wife of 25 years and another native Texan, made a push for it.

"I have a ranch in Texas where I love to go fishing and hunting. And my wife loves to go skiing, so I promised her that if things worked out I would get her a ski place," said Engvall, for whom things have certainly worked out.

He's a hugely successful comedian — who doesn't know about the Blue Collar Comedy Tour? (Variety estimated the tour netted Engvall, Jeff Foxworthy, Ron White and Larry the Cable Guy a combined $200 million.) And now he's got his own sitcom.

And Gail Engvall got her home near the skiing.

"We are literally right across the street from Park City Mountain Resort so she can walk across the street and go skiing," Engvall said.

His sitcom, however, is a whole lot less trendy than Park City. "The Bill Engvall" show is a throwback to the days of family sitcoms. It's both a show about married couple Bill (Engvall) and Susan (Nancy Travis) raising kids and a show intended for families to watch together.

"I honestly believe that we do well in cities like Pittsburgh and Dallas and the Midwest because we really are trying to portray what the average American family goes through," Engvall said, "without it being the finger-wagging, overbearing wife and the husband who barely gets through the day.

"And I think people are starting to appreciate that. I think it took us a little while for people to kind of go, 'What are they doing?' And now they're starting to realize, 'Oh, all right. I can sit there and watch this show with my family. I don't have to explain anything. I don't have to worry about the content.' And that is what I've always wanted to do."

While no one will ever accuse "The Bill Engvall Show" of being cutting edge or edgy, he's fine with that.

"I'd love for this show to be the impetus that brought family shows back to television," Engvall said. "I've got to be honest with you. I know you're not supposed to say things like this, but God bless TBS. They're bringing it back."

About the most radical idea Engvall has for his sitcom is that he'd like to see it move to Saturday nights — which has become sort of a black hole in terms of series television on both cable and broadcast networks. But he thinks there's a chance to try to go back to the days when shows like "All In the Family," "M*A*S*H," "Mary Tyler Moore" and "Bob Newhart" drew huge audiences on Saturday nights.

"Saturday night was the night," he said. "And I think now, with the price of gas and stuff, that people can't take these trips. I wouldn't be surprised if Saturday night doesn't come back to being a television night. Everyone's kind of vacated it. Why not turn it around and make it a great night?"

And Engvall would be very happy growing old on his sitcom.

"I don't know how long this show will go," he said. "I hope we become the Waltons of TBS — that someday it's just me and Nancy sitting on a bench saying, 'you think the grandkids will visit?"'

Turns out he wasn't the first one to say that.

"You took my joke?" Travis exclaimed.

"I've never been above stealing stuff," Engvall said.


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com