NEW YORK -- Some parents have trouble with their teen-age children. Some mothers of teen-age boys actually complain. Boys that age, they say, don't clean their rooms, or they drive fast cars, or they rob convenience stores.
But not Joey Lawrence. At 17, he does his homework, stars on a popular sitcom (NBC's "Blossom," 8:30 p.m. Mondays, Channel 2) and tosses off hit singles ("Nothing My Love Can't Fix"), all without prompting. Such a good boy.
His mother, Donna, thinks Joey is so straight (though not narrow) because he's in show business. That so many former child stars today have rap sheets suggests that being adored by the masses during critical developmental stages doesn't always work to the good. But Joey's mom has a fresh perspective.
"The fact that he's in the business and that we're together a lot gives him a different view of life," says 40-year-old Donna. She appears a sensible woman, smart too, and yet she also seems to believe what she's saying -- that her 17-year-old rock-star son listens to his mother.
Joey is the genuine article -- a hunka, hunka burnin' rectitude. He may receive 5,000 fan letters a week, the single from his album ("Joey Lawrence") may have broken the Top 40 coming out of the gate, young girls may mass wherever he goes, but in person Joey is such a gentleman, his ripped jeans and his sometimes tortured sentences notwithstanding.
"I think rebellion is just kids trying to find out who they want to be," he says, explaining why other teen-agers may act out. Joey, however, is who he wants to be.
He confirms particulars from the Joey Lawrence legend. It's true, he says, that from toddlerhood on he nagged to go into show business, that when his parents entered him in a modeling contest at home in Philadelphia it was only in response to his pleading. Indeed, he did do a spot on the Johnny Carson show at the age of 5, unabashedly belting out "Give My Regards to Broadway." He thereafter appeared in numerous commercials, had a continuing role in the series "Gimme a Break," and then got one when he was cast in "Blossom."
"I have to be the luckiest guy," he says. Yes, he does. With his album, on which he co-wrote 12 of the songs, he has segued from NBC to MTV. This newly qualified rock star has a unique rap, though, at least for a rock star.
"My parents have helped me to be a moral and ethical person," he says, insisting morals and ethics will serve him well, though his professional objective has to do with provoking young girls into a sexual frenzy.