(written from a Production point of view)
Chad Allen Lazzari (born 5 June 1974; age 41), better known simply as Chad Allen, is the American actor who played Jono in "Suddenly Human", a fourth season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Performing on television since the age of four, he is perhaps best known for his role as Matthew Cooper on the CBS series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
Allen was born in Cerritos, California, and he grew up in Long Beach. He was the youngest of four boys and was born along with his twin sister, Charity. When he began acting, it was decided that "Chad Lazzari" was a name more fitting for a "dark-haired Italian" rather than a boy with blond hair and blue eyes, so his professional name became "Chad Allen."
In 1996, Allen was outed as gay when a tabloid published photographs on him kissing another man. Since then, Allen has become an open advocate of the gay community. In 2006, he appeared on the CNN talk show Larry King Live to support the legalizing of gay marriage.
1978 – 1992
Allen's first acting job was a commercial for fast food restaurant McDonald's at the age of four. When he was six, he filmed a role in the pilot episode of the CBS medical drama Cutter to Houston, which later had a brief run in 1983. Fellow Star Trek alumni K Callan, Jim Metzler, and Noble Willingham were regulars on this series. In 1981, director Michael Vejar cast Allen in an episode of Simon & Simon with Michael Ansara.
Between 1983 and 1988, Allen appeared as Tommy, the autistic son of Dr. Donald Westphall, on the NBC medical drama St. Elsewhere. Although initially a minor role, Allen's character took on a greater significance during the show's final episode, in which it was indicated that the entire series had taken place in his mind. Many Star Trek veterans had regular or recurring roles on St. Elsewhere, including Ed Begley, Jr., Ellen Bry, Ronny Cox, Bruce Greenwood, Norman Lloyd, Deborah May, France Nuyen, Kavi Raz, Jennifer Savidge, Alfre Woodard, and Jane Wyatt.
From 1986 through 1988, Allen was a regular cast member on the NBC drama series Our House. Allen was nominated for three Young Artist Awards for his work on this series, winning one. He then became a regular on the short-lived NBC sitcom My Two Dads, winning another Young Artist Award.
Allen made his film debut in the science fiction/horror comedy TerrorVision, about a family whose satellite TV system becomes a passageway to an alien world. DS9 and VOY guest actor Gerrit Graham portrayed Allen's character's father in this film, while DS9 guest star Bert Remsen played his grandfather. Allen received a Young Artist Award nomination for his performance in this film.
Allen has also been nominated by the Young Artist Awards for his guest appearance on the adventure series Airwolf (in an episode with James Whitmore, Jr.) and for his recurring role as Rob on the sitcom Webster (which starred Eugene Roche). He was also nominated for his performance in the 1985 NBC TV movie Code of Vengeance and for voicing Charlie Brown in the animated 1986 TV special Happy New Year, Charlie Brown!
His other credits during the 1980s include three other TV movies which aired in 1985: Not My Kid (with Andrew Robinson), The Bad Seed (with Anne Haney, Richard Kiley, and David Ogden Stiers), and A Death in California (with Michael Cavanaugh, Bruce Gray, Kerrie Keane, William Lucking, John McLiam, Joel Polis, Liam Sullivan, Kenneth Tigar, Granville Van Dusen, George D. Wallace, and Fritz Weaver). He also guest-starred on such shows as Tales from the Darkside (with Seymour Cassel) and Hunter (directed by Alexander Singer). In the early 1990s, Allen starred in such TV movies as Camp Cucamonga (with Richard Herd) and Murder in New Hampshire: The Pamela Wojas Smart Story (with Larry Drake).
Dr. Quinn and beyond
In 1992, Allen was offered the role of Matthew Cooper on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. He signed on for the show's pilot to earn money for his college tuition, believing it would not be picked up as a series. Dr. Quinn was not only picked up, it ended up lasting for six years. Allen's co-stars on Dr. Quinn included Joe Lando, who previously appeared in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Many other Star Trek veterans had significant roles on this series, including Barbara Babcock, Michelle Bonilla, Nick Ramus, Gail Strickland, and Helene Udy.
After Dr. Quinn came to an end in 1998, Allen made guest appearances on The Love Boat: The Next Wave (directed by Anson Williams and starring Phil Morris) in 1998 and on NYPD Blue (starring Gordon Clapp and Sharon Lawrence) in 1999. Allen made a second appearance on NYPD Blue, playing a different character, in a 2004 episode with fellow TNG guest star Steven Anderson.
In 2005, Allen and Star Trek: Enterprise guest star Brett Rickaby played the younger and older versions of the same character in an episode of Cold Case. Allen has also appeared on such shows as Charmed, Criminal Minds, and CSI: Miami. For the latter, he appeared in an episode with Enterprise regular Jolene Blalock. In 2008, he had a recurring role on the soap opera General Hospital: Night Shift.
In addition to his many TV guest appearances, Allen has also starred in such recent films as What Matters Most (with Jim Metzler and Marshall R. Teague), A Mother's Testimony (a TV movie with Keith Szarabajka), Paris (with Biff Yeager), Downtown: A Street Tale (with John Savage), and End of the Spear. He has also starred as gay detective Donald Strachey in several films, from Third Man Out in 2005 through Ice Blues in 2008.
2010 and beyond
In 2010, Allen portrayed Loogie in the comedy Spork, with Richard Riehle, on which he also worked as producer. He then portrayed Lance Robinson in the Dexter episode "Everything Is Illumenated", with Peter Weller and Shawn Crowder. Allen worked also as co-producer on the documentary Hollywood to Dollywood, a television documentary about Dolly Parton. Allen himself and Leslie Jordan were interviewed on ths documentary.
More recently, Allen appeared in the horror film Fright Flick (2011) and the romance For Better of for Worse (2011, with Stanley Kamel).