CATCHING UP WITH ... REX ALLEN JR.

STILL IN THE SADDLE

I picked up the paper several months ago, and it said there were 18 people running for governor in Arizona in 2002," says Rex Allen Jr. "And I thought, 'Well, heck, I ought to throw my name in the pot.' So I did!"

It's hard to tell where the man who wrote Arizona's state song, "Arizona," would find the time to run the Grand Canyon State, considering that Rex is up to his Stetson in projects these days. He ticks off the list: "There are people talking to me about new albums, I'm doing voice-over work, I have three films in the works as an actor, and people are talking to me about writing soundtracks for films I'm going to do."

When it comes to that new music he mentioned, don't expect this multitalented entertainer to repeat the formulas of past successes. "It won't be country or Western," he declares. "I'm gonna take that heritage with me, but I'm gonna go on. We've put together a group of songs that are more classically-oriented standards. If I want to do 'He'll Have To Go,' I want to be able to do that - but on the other hand, if I want to cut 'Thanks For The Memories,' I wanna be able to do that, too!"

The new film projects, according to Rex, will be family oriented, and "as for parts, I'm playing everything from lawyers to cops." One, called Blue Monkey, is slated to be filmed in New Orleans. He's also working on a pilot for Comedy Central called Nature Boy.

Wearing many hats is nothing new for Rex. He began his career playing rhythm guitar for his famous dad, the singing actor Rex Sr. He's been a rodeo clown; a hitmaking country singer (with six Top 10 hits under his belt, including "Two Less Lonely People," "Lonely Street" and "No, No, No (I'd Rather Be Free)" ); star of his own TV series (TNN's Yesteryear, which ran 1994 - 96); narrator of last year's Jim Carrey movie Me, Myself And Irene; and writer, director and actor in the stage show Gone Country, a Las Vegas hit of the late '90s.

During his free moments, Rex is a devoted family man, living in Las Vegas with wife Deanna; her children, Wade, 23, and Marcus, 19; his own three boys, Wyatt, 21, and 13-year old twins Cody and Logan; and their dog, Dune. Now 54, Rex has spent most of his life not just singing but entertaining, and he feels that has been the key to his showbiz longevity. "My father always told me," he recalls, "'you can have records and not have records, but entertainers always survive.' "

- Roger Randles

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