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In many ways, Michael Landon Jr. is following in his famous father's footsteps. He's directing family-friendly TV fare about pioneer life (sometimes even on a prairie!), including his latest film, Love's Enduring Promise, a smash hit on the Hallmark Channel which comes out on video today. It's the follow-up to another Hallmark hit, Love Comes Softly, and the second film based on the popular series of Christian novels by Janette Oke. Both films are warm and filled with life and light, and Landon will be making at least two more movies in the series—to first air on Hallmark, and to be later released to video.

But in other ways, Michael Landon Jr., 40, is nothing like his father. Sure, the elder Landon, who died of cancer in 1991, played characters that American TV audiences grew to know and love—Little Joe on Bonanza, Pa Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie, and the angel Jonathan Smith on Highway to Heaven. But away from those impeccable characters, Landon wasn't always the consummate role model. He had an affair with a make-up artist on the set of Little House, which led to a divorce that devastated his wife and his kids—including Michael Jr. The younger Landon, who had worshiped his father, was 15 when this happened. He then went into an emotional and rebellious tailspin for the next four years before becoming a Christian and turning things around.

Today, Michael Landon Jr. is, in many ways, continuing his dad's legacy of being a part of wholesome entertainment. But, married for 18 years and the father of three, he's also bound and determined not to repeat his father's sins. We talked to the younger Landon about his dad, his commitment to his family, and what he's hoping to accomplish with the Love Comes ...

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February 2005

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