Leo Howard came to the Mall of America where the Disney XD comedy star enjoyed "Kickin' It" for a Radio Disney (1440 AM) appearance. He is 15, a black belt and is on the No. 1 show on Disney XD. Who could ask for more?
His parents, reality TV stars Todd and Randye Howard of Spike's "World's Worst Tenants," came along for the trip, too. They were as attentive to Leo's fans as they demand that their son be. When the wristbands for Leo's event ran out, Todd came to Randye and asked if there was something he could give to a family that missed out. Randye retrieved photo handouts. Todd told me that he tells Leo that the day meeting the demands of fans is a bother is the day this teenager might want to find a different line of work.
From what I saw, that day's not on the horizon. Leo is a more genial package than I normally see in the celebs, whether kids or adults. When I complimented his parents on their good parenting, Randye told me that she would like to take credit, but the truth is "Leo was born nice." He was also born to perform, and he let his parents know it at an early age. Speaking of the early years, Todd Howard said he believes some fathers make a mistake by planning to do their real bonding with a kid once the child is up in size. Todd said he thinks the real bonding takes place much earlier, when the child is in diapers, and that moms know this. That's why when Leo was a baby, Todd said, he and Randye seriously competed to change those diapers.
Q Which pronunciation do you prefer: karate, or ka-rah-tay?
A Oooooh. I've heard both, but I would say ka-rah-tay because it's more interesting.
Q Do people who address you with "Hello, Grasshopper" get a foot in their face?
A Actually, no. It's quite an honor to be called a young grasshopper. On the set a lot we call each other young grasshoppers.
Q You've been a black belt since you were how old?
A I got my black belt when I was about 11 years, but I've being doing martial arts now for about 11 years. A long time. Think I'm only 15 years old.
Q Ever torn pants doing a high kick?
A I don't think I have. Knock on wood.
Q Is Jason Earles any more emotionally mature in real life than he acts on "Kickin' It"?
A Jason completely changes. He's completely a mature adult, which is surprising because he acts like a child on the show.
Q Has Jason shared his opinion about Miley Cyrus' new haircut?
A I haven't seen him since Miley Cyrus got her new haircut. ... I do [like Miley's new look]. She's expressing something new. I think it's cool. It's her haircut.
Q Which "Karate Kid" movie is your favorite -- the original starring Ralph Macchio or the remake with Jaden Smith?
A Hard to say, because I really like the new one, but I love the original just because it's the original.
Q Who is the reigning princess of Disney Channels?
A Hummm. I would have to say China Anne McClain from "A.N.T. Farm." She's awesome, a phenomenal singer, one of the most talented people I have ever met. And Disney XD? Humm. I'm kind of biased because I'm on "Kickin' It" so I'd have to say Olivia [Holt].
Q Who is the current prince of the Disney Channels?
A I only judge the princesses. I don't judge the princes.
Q I hear you cook. What's the best dish you prepare?
A I don't know how good I am, but I enjoy eating and I cook what I eat. I love grilling, so probably anything to do with grilling steaks or chicken or fish. I'm like a super health junkie, so all lean meats and all that good stuff.
Q Do you watch the cooking channels much?
A I try. I was on [ABC's] "The Chew" a couple months ago, which was a blast. We cooked some chicken samaches [the unusual pronunciation of sandwiches].
Q Your folks raise bulldogs. Any of the pooches ever get confused by your moves?
A Of course. They try to kick me back. We breed English and French bulldogs -- they are my favorites. They are so sweet, so lovable. Really great dogs.
Interviews are edited for content and space. C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on FOX 9.