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John Schneider not such a good ol' boy on Tyler Perry's 'The Haves and The Have Nots'

John Schneider

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Actors who have to be in Atlanta for a few weeks or months to shoot a film or TV show usually rent a place in Midtown, Buckhead or Virginia Highland.

Not John Schneider.

The former “Dukes of Hazzard” and “Smallville” star lives in an RV wherever he goes to shoot a film or TV show - including “The Haves and the Have Nots,” a soapy drama Atlanta’s Tyler Perry is launching on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network Tuesday, May 28. OWN has committed to 16 episodes.

“I like having all my stuff in one place,” Schneider said during a late lunch of a crispy fish sandwich at Cook Hall at the W Hotel in Buckhead. (In this case, he was staying in a hotel to promote the show. His RV was back in Oklahoma, where he was shooting a film playing a nasty sheriff.)

His character on “The Haves and the Have Nots” isn’t so humble. Schneider plays a powerful Savannah judge Jim Cryer, a far cry from his iconic, good ol’ boy Bo Duke three decades ago.

“I don’t think he cares much beyond what people see on the outside,” Schneider said. “He’s cocky and arrogant. People don’t generally see me as being that kind of guy. I was fascinated by the contrast.”

And he has an affair with the maid’s daughter, played with slinky slyness by Tika Sumpter, a former soap star on “One Life to Live.”

“My character loves her no-holds-barred attitude,” Schneider said. “The relationship she forms with him is a complex one.”

Perry was totally hands-on with the production, said Schneider, a 53-year-old New York native who spent three years in Atlanta as a teen, graduating North Springs High School in 1977. “He creates an atmosphere that’s near live. You go through all the scenes and you’re unaware of the process somehow. It’s so comfortable. It’s kind of like theater.”

Not that Schneider is unfamiliar with theater. He spent 13 months on Broadway doing “Grand Hotel.”

So the grueling pace Perry sets was invigorating, he said: “It was the most work and the most effortless work I’ve done.”

Perry started in theater. And like his other TV shows, this one is based on one of his stage plays.

Schneider marvels how the TV world has changed since he broke into the business in 1979. “I cut my teeth in a three-network world when 28 million people were watching ‘Dukes of Hazzard,’ ” he said. “Now there are 400 channels and there seems to be less to watch.”

But he respects what Perry and Winfrey are doing: “These are two of the most deservedly powerful people. They want this to work. I’m really excited. This may end up being even better than I think.”

TV preview

“The Haves and the Have Nots,” 9 p.m. Tuesdays, OWN

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